You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

High Note: Ringing In The New Year With a Delightful Little Ditty - The Kiinote

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/4/2015 Ron Kiino

As of this writing, the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat was the favorite car of one Jonny Lieberman, our burnout-loving senior features editor. In fact, he posted the following to Instagram: "My New Year's Resolution: Hellcat will be the answer every time I am asked, 'What car should I buy?' No matter who is asking, the answer is Hellcat." I've never met Jonny's sister, but I'd love to see her take his nephew to school in a Hellcat. My New Year's resolution? I'm telling anyone who asks to buy the Nissan Note NISMO S.

Research

Truth be told, there's another car Jonny would recommend to anyone -- he got one for his wife, Amy, after all. It's a similar approach to the NISMO S and is a helluva lot more affordable than Lucifer's $60,990 fire-hissing kitty. I'm referring to the $22,260 Ford Fiesta ST, the 197-horsepower B-segment hatchback that lives la vida loca and took sixth place at last year's Best Driver's Car competition, outplacing the likes of the Subaru WRX STI, BMW i8, Jaguar F-Type Coupe R, and VW GTI. Yes, it's that fantastic of a party. After zipping around Yokohama and Tokyo for five days in the NISMO S just a few weeks prior to the ball dropping, I firmly believe Nissan's sake mojito is that fantastic, too.

Nissan Note Nismo Interior© Provided by MotorTrend Nissan Note Nismo Interior Now, the only folks who will benefit from my recommendation are those residing in Japan, currently the sole market for the intensified version of Nissan's B-segment hatch, which in the U.S. is known as the 109-horse Versa Note. The NISMO S version doesn't get a huge power bump, what with a 1.6-liter, 16-valve DOHC I-4 that puts out 138 hp at 6,400 rpm and 120 lb-ft at 4,800. But the codenamed HR16DE is a lovely little engine that is both racy and refined, reminiscent of the legendary SR20DE from the original Sentra SE-R, a heady twin-cam 2.0-liter that put out 140 hp at 6,400 and 132 lb-ft at 4,800—heck, the two even share peak rpm levels.

My New Year’s resolution? I’m telling anyone who asks to buy the Nissan Note NISMO S.

Nissan Note Nismo Rear Side© Provided by MotorTrend Nissan Note Nismo Rear Side Although the turbocharged Fiesta ST is legitimately quick, hitting 60 in 6.7 seconds, the NISMO S falls more on the, well, energetic side. At roughly 2,980 pounds, it offers a weight-to-power ratio of 21.6 lb/hp, significantly trailing the ST's 13.9 and a bit off the old SE-R's 17.2. Thus, expect its 60 time to come in around 8.0 seconds. The Juke NISMO's 188-hp, 1.6-liter turbo would seemingly make more sense, but it doesn't fit, as the two cars ride on different platforms. Flat-out speed isn't the NISMO's forte; rather, it's agility. NISMO chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura, the man overseeing the GT-R, told me his team's focus for the NISMO S was body and chassis. They did a superb job. I've never experienced a B-segment car that felt this robust and controllable. Body enhancements include front and rear tunnel stays, a rear crossbar and underfloor V bar, and front and rear suspension reinforcements. Speaking of suspension, the NISMO components (special struts, dampers, and springs), along with the upgraded brakes and track-ready 205/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza S007 tires, make for grin-getting entertainment. Some of the superb man-to-machine connectedness is attributable to the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, slick five-speed manual, and body-hugging Recaro seats.

Will it come to the U.S.? Perhaps. Tamura-san's concern is power and perception. The NISMO S makes its humble output on high octane, and asking Americans to shell out for premium on a subcompact already down 59 hp to the Fiesta ST is a risky proposition. But again, the NISMO S isn't about straight-line speed. That said, on an empty stretch of road, I was surprised by its quarter-mile gusto. So, too, was a speed camera. I'm not sure yet how light my wallet will become, but a pending visit to the local police station is on the docket. My first donation of 2015. As the saying goes, you gotta pay to play.

More from The Kiinote:

Nissan Note Nismo S Front Side© Provided by MotorTrend Nissan Note Nismo S Front Side

Nissan Note Nismo Front Side© Provided by MotorTrend Nissan Note Nismo Front Side
AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Motor Trend

Loading...

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon