San Diego ? I used to equate entry-level cars to a loaf of sliced white bread ? boring, bland, tasteless and best used?for feeding the ducks at the pond.
Nissan?s latest entry-level offering was certainly a step up from that. While not at the level of those?crusty, heavy artisan breads, the new Versa falls more in the category of the still warm French or Italian loaves?stacked in baskets near the supermarket checkout in the late afternoon ? a nice fresh, quality bread with some texture?and substance.
In essence, the Note is like a wagon version of the Versa sedan, but more stylish, roomy and practical or??chewy? by my Note notes. The styling is modern and distinctive, but also happens to be more aerodynamic thanks?in part some innovative design.
The interior is uncluttered and planned for easy driver access and visibility. The navigation screen on those?models equipped with it is a little low on the center stack requiring the driver to take her eyes off the road to see??the road map.?
I especially like the large storage space in the doors and the nicely texture fabric on the seats. When it comes?to keeping the buns warm, I also appreciate that the SV model has available heated seats. I also appreciate that?Nissan planners included nice little extras like sun visors with extensions to keep the sun from shining into your?eyes.
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 rear seat backs are folded, the cargo floorboard can be lifted to reveal a hidden storage area, which I especially?since I am an organization freak.
A feature I don?t find on other entry-level vehicles is the Around View? Monitor. The system utilizes four?small superwide-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 ? it?s a big plus for me. 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.
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). I?m?not normally a fan of these efficient transmissions, but have to admit that the Nissan version is one of the best. It?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.
Note comes in three time levels (S, S Plus and SV) along with two option packages, the SL package and the SL?Tech Package. The SL package adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, push button start, Rear View Monitor heated seats and a few?other convenience and comfort features for $1,700. The SL Tech package adds the Around View? Monitor, navigation,?hands-free text messaging assistant and streaming audio blue tooth for the bargain price of $800.
Pricing starts at $14,780, including the destination charge, for the 1.6S with manual transmission and goes to?$16,780 for the 1.6 SV with CVT. 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 very nicely equipped hatchback that?s knocking on the luxury compact?category ? think artisan breads.
The 2014 Nissan Versa Note is a nice package of good looks, roomy interior and excellent value. It?s at your?local Nissan dealer now, and don?t forget to pickup one of those warm loaves of bread on the way home.