CAR REVIEW: 2014 Nissan Versa Note: Roomy, good value

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The Nissan Versa debuted in 2007 and it’s firmly in the mix with a good chunk of quality sub-compacts in a highly competitive segment. For 2014, the Nissan Versa Note is the hatchback version of the Versa sedan.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

My weekly driver was the Nissan Versa Note’s top-line SV trim. It adds a lot to the base model and makes the entry-level machine an appreciably more attractive option in its segment.

As examples, the SV trim adds keyless remote entry, power locks and windows, upgraded and more cloth upholstery, a six-way adjustable driver seat, a driver-side center armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, silver/chrome interior and exterior accents and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

The 2014 Nissan Versa Note is a roomy sub-compact hatchback.
The 2014 Nissan Versa Note is a roomy sub-compact hatchback. Images © James Raia/2013

My SV trim also include the Convenience and SL packages: The former includes: a rearview camera, a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface, a fold-down rear center armrest and a cargo divider.

The SL package gets you the Convenience package features plus 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, keyless ignition/entry and heated front seats. Finally, there’s the SL Tech package with heated mirrors, a 360-degree parking camera system, a navigation system, a larger 5.8-inch color touchscreen, Pandora radio and Bluetooth streaming audio.

(Click on thumbnails for full-size images.)

 

It’s hard to imagine driving the Note without its optional packages — with the exception of its strong entry level MSRP. The navigation system, heated mirrors, Bluetooth, parking camera, etc., made me feel like I was driving far more than a basic transportation vehicle.

The issue, of course, is that adding nearly $4,000 in options brings the price close to the prices of the Honda Fit, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and a few more stalwart competitors.

I liked the exterior design and open feel of the Nissan Versa Note. It had 10 windows and there’s good legroom and headroom. The seating is not as spacious as it could be, but it is a sub-compact.

Like any competent sub-compact, the Nissan Versa Note is at its best in tight places and for urban responsibilities. Its 1.6-liter engine bears only 109 horsepower and that’s one major downside. The new Nissan Versa is underpowered. It’s likely not an issue for some potential buyers, but others need the comfort of knowing that they have adequate power when needed. With the Nissan Versa Note, there’s often a question mark.

Likes:

Surprisingly roomy.

Great base price.

Good-sized trunk.

Good fuel economy with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Dislikes:

Sluggish.

Noisy at high speeds.

Nice blue exterior color with hideous name: “Metallic Peacock.”

Facts & Figures: 2014 Nissan Versa Note

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.6 seconds.
Airbags: (6)
Fuel economy: 31 mpg (city), 40 mpg (highway), 34 mpg (combined). CVT automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 109.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $15,900.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.nissanusa.com.
Price As tested: $19,545.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 4 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“This small hatchback is neither quick nor sporty. But it does take you from Point A to Point B, and considering its low price, its cabin accommodations are respectable.” — Edmunds.com.

“The newest version of Nissan’s Versa small car, the 2014 Versa Note hatchback, has such selling points that it’s nearly overwhelming . . . but.” — USA Today.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The more I drove the Nissan Versa Note, the more I liked it as a quality entry level small sedan. I just wish it had better acceleration.”

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