- Brand new model, replacing the Versa Hatchback which was last sold as a 2012 model
- Same 109-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder found in the Versa sedan
- Best-in-class city mpg; lots of available technology
Nissan designed its entry-level Versa sedan in 2012 and for 2014 finally updates the hatchback version, which is now known as the Versa Note.
The “Note” part of the name comes from Nissan’s overseas division, where the car is known by that name only, but for the American market they wanted to keep a familiar moniker in place. Nissan proudly touts the Versa family (sedan and hatchback) as the best-selling entry level vehicle in America and the updated hatchback should only reinforce that claim.
The best feature of the 2014 Versa Note (and the Versa lineup as a whole): its price. Even though it’s a brand new, redesigned model, the price has actually dropped $680 when compared to the outgoing hatchback which nestles the base price right under $14,000.
When it comes to exterior styling, the Versa Note does not really break any new ground but it is light years ahead of the old Versa Hatchback which was a yearly contender for the “most anonymous car in America” award. It has a new, more aerodynamic shape that helps fuel economy and more character down the sides, with what Nissan calls a “squash line.” 15-inch wheels are standard, with new 16-inch alloys optional. The Versa Note is also about a foot shorter than its sedan counterpart, even though the two models have the same wheelbase.
Under the hood, the 2014 Versa Note gets the same engine as the sedan, a 109-horespower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 107 pounds feet of torque. All of the Versa Note trims feature this engine. S models have a five-speed manual, while the S Plus and SV models get a more efficient Xtronic CVT.
Most of the Versa Note’s exciting mechanical changes aren’t found in the engine bay and are geared toward efficiency, including active grill shutters behind the front grille, 300 pounds of weight loss, and making the transmission more efficient. CVT equipped Versa Note models now boast class leading city fuel economy and tie for the lead when it comes to highway fuel economy, with 31/40 mpg city/highway (27/36 mpg for S models).
Inside, the most impressive feature of the 2014 Versa Note is its roominess, in both rows. One of the biggest arguments against cars in this class is that they don’t have enough cargo or passenger volume but not the Versa Note which has class leading cargo volume behind the second row (21.4 cubic feet) and passenger volume (94.1 cu. ft.). The standard features list is pretty thin, with a 60/40-split folding rear seats, auxiliary audio input, and air conditioning. Moving up to the S Plus trim adds cruise control, while the SV trim adds Bluetooth connectivity, power windows and locks, keyless entry, and a leather steering wheel. Nissan has also introduced new technology to the Versa line, with the available NissanConnect system which comes with a 5.8-inch touch screen, voice recognition, satellite traffic and weather, Google POI support, text message assist, and Pandora internet radio streaming.
Nissan has also introduced new exciting safety technology. The SL Tech package includes Nissan’s Around View monitor technology, which shows a top down view of the car when parking or doing slow maneuvers that makes parking a breeze. The cameras also offer a backup view with gridlines, or a curb view for parallel parking. The Versa Note also includes one of our favorite features, a smart tire inflate system that honks the horn when the tires reach the correct pressure – no more fumbling with tire pressure indicators, no more stress.