We’ve always admired the universal capabilities of five-door hatchbacks. In some ways they offer many of the same handy attributes of an SUV or Crossover only with a more car-like application.
The Versa Note was added to the Nissan lineup for the 2014 model year as the hatchback version of the popular Versa sedan, which has been a segment leader.
In essence, the 2014 Nissan Versa Note is like a wagon version of the Versa sedan, but more stylish, roomy and practical. The styling is modern and distinctive, but also happens to be more aerodynamic thanks in part some innovative designs.
The interior is uncluttered and planned for easy driver access and visibility. We would prefer to see the navigation screen moved a little higher on the center stack so it doesn’t require the driver to take his or her eyes off the road to see “the road map” or change radio stations. We did like the large storage space in the doors and the nice textured fabric on the seats. We also appreciate that the SV model has available heated seats and that the sun visors that extend their coverage area.
The Note has 21.4-cubic feet of cargo space when the seat backs are in place, but can expand to 38.3 cubic feet when the rear seat backs are folded. A nice added feature is the available Divide-N-Hide adjustable Floor. When the seat backs are folded the cargo floor board can be lifted to reveal a hidden storage area.
A feature not found on other entry-level vehicles is the Around View® Monitor which is part of the optional technology package. The system utilizes four small super wide-angle cameras mounted on the front, side and rear of the vehicle to provide a virtual 360° view of objects around the Note in the navigation screen. You can select images from the split-screen and zoom in for close ups of the front, rear and curb views, helping the driver maneuver the car into tight parking spots or traffic. The Tech package also includes navigation, NavTraffic and NavWeather, Google™ send-to-car compatibility, Pandora, streaming audio through Bluetooth and several other cool features.
A 109 horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is under the short hood. The base transmission is a five-speed manual but most buyers will probably opt for the optional Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). This is one of the more efficient CVTs we’ve found and doesn’t feel as if it’s attached to a bungee cord, and that means a more positive response. The manual transmission is rated at 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. The CVT is much better at 31/40/35 mpg. We actually averaged 36.5 mpg during our week driving the CVT.
Note comes in three trim levels (S, S Plus and SV) along with two option packages the SL package and the Tech Package. The SL package adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, pushbutton start, Rear View Monitor, heated seats plus a few other convenience and comfort features for $1,700. The SL Tech package adds the Around View® Monitor, navigations, hands-free text messaging assistant and streaming audio Bluetooth® for the bargain price of $800.
Pricing starts at $14,780 for the 1.6S with manual transmission and goes to $16,780 for the 1.6 SV with CTS. With all the available options the most expensive SV would have a bottom line price of about $21,000. At that price, you get a nicely equipped hatchback.
The Note is good transportation, but falls short on the driving fun scale. It’s a good dependable economy car that would be perfect for commuting, or running around town picking up the kids at school and loading the back with groceries. We did exactly that during the week we drove the Note. We were charged with buying the treats and beverages for the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s Run to the Sun event, so we took it to Costco and filled the back with cases of bottled water, other beverages and snacks for about 50 people for two days. Worked great and easily carried our total Costco purchase.