By on February 7, 2014

2014 Nissan Versa Note Exterior

Making a “cheap” car is a tried and true formula for most auto makers. Making a car with a low sticker and a solid value proposition is tough. Not only do you have to keep the starting price low, but you have to worry about fuel economy, maintenance, insurance and everything that goes into an ownership experience. Reviewing cars that focus heavily on value is even trickier. Indeed a number of buff-book journalists were offended by the Versa Sedan’s plastics, lack of features and small engine. My response was simple: what do you expect of the cheapest car in America? Trouble is, the Versa Note isn’t the cheapest hatchback in America, so this review is about that elusive quality: value.

YouTube Preview Image

Exterior

Let’s be frank, the last Versa hatchback to grace our shores was strange looking. This is because Nissan sent us the Japanese market “Tiida” hatchback, while Europeans got the related, but more attractive, Nissan Note. 2014 brings a change, with Nissan aligning America with the redesigned Note from Europe. Meanwhile China and other countries get a redesigned Tiida. (Check out the picture below.) Nissan decided that there was value in the Versa brand so the final product was dubbed the “Versa Note.”

2014 Nissan Tiida Hatchback, Picture Courtesy of NissanI must admit that the product shuffle strikes me as a mixed bag. While the outgoing Versa hatch was undeniably dowdy, I find the new Tiida (above) downright sexy for a small car. The Versa Note? “Note” so much. Nissan tells us the Note is all about practicality, and the math is simple: the squarer the hatch, the more stuff you can jam inside. Thankfully Nissan included a few swoopy door stampings to prevent any 1980s flashbacks, but the resulting design obviously prioritized function over form. At 66 inches wide and 60 inches tall, the Note looks doesn’t just look square from the side, but from the front and rear as well. Proportions like these are hard to avoid with a small hatchback but the Versa’s horizontal grille helps detract from it in a way that the Spark’s tall grille amplifies the effect. When it comes to looks, the Rio and the Fiesta win the beauty pageant.

While the Versa continues to hold the title of “least expensive car in America”, the Chevrolet Spark ($12,995), Smart ($13,240) and Mitsubishi Mirage ($13,790) and Kia Rio 5-door ($13,800)  all ring in below the Note’s $13,990 starting price. For those of you counting, that’s a whopping $2,000 (or 17%)  bump over the Versa sedan. I’m going to cross the Smart car off the list  because it’s a two-seat hatch, and we can call the Mirage and Rio near ties in starting price, but the Spark is a decent $1,000 discount. Since this review is all about value at the bottom of the automotive food chain, I’m not going to cover the more expensive options in this segment.

2014 Nissan Versa Note Interior-001

Interior

Despite the price bump from the Versa Sedan, the Note’s interior is nearly identical. The same hard plastic dashboard, thin headliner and minimalist controls are all cast in the same shade of black. The only notable changes versus the sedan are a steering wheel lifted from the Sentra, and standard folding rear seats. Jumping up to the $15,990 SV trim buys you nicer seat and headliner fabric, but the rest of the interior remains the same. The discount interior is something that doesn’t bother me in the Versa sedan, but the Note is two-grand more. At this price the Rio is made from nicer materials for slightly less and the Fiesta’s classier cabin is a scant $110 more. Materials tie with the Chevy Spark which is great for the Chevy but not so good for the Nissan. Meanwhile the Mitsubishi looks dated both inside and out with the most discount cabin I have seen in a long time.

Base shoppers will find standard air conditioning, 60/40 folding rear seats and sun-visors that extend, but notably missing from the starting price are power windows, power door locks, vanity mirrors and rear cup holders. This is where I say: “what did you expect?” After all, the Spark and Rio don’t offer all the goodies in their base models either. Here comes that pesky “value” proposition again however: the Spark is cheaper so the lower level of equipment seems more appropriate. If that’s not enough of a value proposition, consider this, for $50 less than a base Versa you can get a Spark with all those missing features plus cruise control.

Nissan tells us the bulk of Note volume is the $15,990 SV model which adds a “2-speed CVT,” cruise control, armrest for the driver, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and some Bluetooth love. Trouble is, that Spark gives you all that and a 7-inch touchscreen nav system for less. $995 less to be exact.

2014 Nissan Versa Note Interior-007

Front seat comfort proved good around town, but I found the lack of lumbar support a problem on longer trips. Cushioning is firm but comfortable and the range of motion in the 6-way manual seats is average for this segment. Sadly Nissan doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel in the Note like many of the competitors do. I didn’t notice this problem with the Versa sedan, but the Note I had for a week suffered from a footwell that barely fit my size 11 shoes. If you have bigger feet you may have difficulty wedging your footwear in.

The big selling point for this sub-compact is, oddly enough, the back seat. Although sitting three abreast in the rear is a cozy affair due to the car’s width, rear leg room is simply amazing. You’ll find 7 inches more rear legroom than the Rio making it possible, and relatively comfortable, for a quartet of six-foot-five guys on a road trip. No other hatch even comes close to the Note’s rear seat numbers which are just 1/10th lower than a Jaguar XJ. Because the Spark is the narrowest of the group by several inches, it only has two seats in the rear. The Mirage claims to seat five, but if the Note is “cozy,” the narrower Mitsubishi is downright cramped. Thanks to the tall body, the Versa also delivers more headroom than the competition without the rear seats riding on the ground. Cargo volume grows 30% from the Versa sedan to 21 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 38 with the rear seats folded.

2014 Nissan Versa Note NissanConnect -002

Infotainment

Base shoppers get a simple head unit with a CD-player, aux input and four speakers. Here again the Spark beats Nissan to the value game. The base Spark is just as basic, but for the same price as a base Note, Chevy sells you a 7-inch touchscreen, USB integration, 6 speakers, XM Satellite radio, smartphone integration with smartphone-based navigation and OnStar. Getting to this level of technology in the Note will set you back $18,140 and Nissan doesn’t have an OnStar alternative for the Note at any price.

The Note that Nissan lent me for a week was the fully-loaded SL model. This meant I had the NissanConnect system you see above along with an all-around camera system. This low-cost system, also found on Sentra and NV200, is one of my favorite systems on the market. The interface is simple, easy to navigate and intuitive. The latest software builds on their old “low-cost navigation” unit by adding streaming media, smartphone and Google data services. The touchscreen also integrates with the Note’s available around view camera which gives you a bird’s-eye view while parking. Although I found the low-res images lacked in detail, it did help keep the Note scratch-free in tricky parking situations. Now for the fly in the ointment. Nissan puts this head unit in an $800 bundle with the fancy camera system and requires that you also have the $540 package that includes rear seat cup holders and a two-stage load floor in the back. The total cost is $1,340 or a nearly 10% bump in MSRP.

2014 Nissan Versa Note Engine 1.6L

Drivetrain

Like the sedan, the Note gets a 1.6L four-cylinder engine featuring variable valve timing and twin injectors per cylinder to deliver 109HP at 6,000 RPM and 107 lb-ft of twist at 4,400 RPM. This is a reduction of 13 horses compared to the 1.8L engine in the old Versa hatch which seems like a valid trade for improved efficiency. Base S models get a 5-speed manual, but if you want to make the most of the small engine, you’ll want Nissan’s CVT with a twist. The Versa CVT uses a two-speed planetary gearset after the CVT belt/cone unit. This extends the ratio spread to that of a conventional 7-speed auto. When starting out, the CVT is at its lowest ratio and the planetary is in “low.” Once the CVT reaches a high ratio, the planetary gearset switches to high allowing the CVT to reset to a lower ratio as you continue to accelerate. This improves low-end grunt, top-end fuel economy and allows the CVT to “downshift” faster than a traditional CVT by shifting the planetary gearset to “low” rather than adjusting the belt. Meanwhile the Spark and Mirage use a conventional “single range” CVT. (GM swapped out the old 4-speed for 2014.)

Thanks to a curb weight that is only 25 lbs heavier than the sedan (300lbs lighter than the 2012 hatch) and active grille shutters, fuel economy has jumped to a lofty 31/40/35 MPG  (city/highway/combined) with the CVT and a less spectacular 27/36 with the manual. While 109 horsepower sounds less than exciting, consider that the Spark’s 1.2L engine delivers just 84 and the Mirage’s rough 3-cylinder is down another 10 ponies.

2014 Nissan Versa Note Exterior-006

Drive

Thanks to a relatively long 102-inch wheelbase, the Note rides more like a mid-size sedan than the Spark or the Mirage. The difference is most notable out on the open highway where the Spark and Mirage “bob around” on washboard pavement. I wouldn’t describe the Note as “refined” in the general sense, but compared to the lower cost entries the Note holds its own. Even when compared with the Kia Rio and the Chevy Sonic, the Versa has a well-engineered feel out on the road. This is where I have to repeat: “keep your expectations priced at $13,990.”

Nissan decided to fit low rolling resistance tires to the Note which help bump fuel economy to a 35 MPG combined score. While the Note manages to out handle the Mirage, the Rio, Fiesta and Sonic whip the Note’s bottom on winding mountain roads. The Spark strikes a middle ground between the Rio and the Note. The electric power steering is accurate but numb. Acceleration is lazy but thanks to the deeper ratios in Nissan’s CVT it easily beats the Spark or the Mirage to highway speeds. Nissan spent considerable time injecting more sound insulating foam in every nook and cranny making this the quietest Versa ever at 70dB.

2014 Nissan Versa Note Exterior-008

The Note managed a surprising 38.8 MPG during my 761 mile week with the “wee hatch,” as my neighbor called it. The high mileage numbers are largely thanks to the light curb weight, low rolling resistance tires and Nissan’s CVT which allows the Note’s tiny engine to barely spin at highway speeds. Although the Spark has the same EPA rating, I averaged 2 MPG less the last time I was in one. TTAC has yet to test a Mirage, so I’ll have to defer to the EPA’s 40 MPG average.

Being the cheap guy that I am, the more I cross-shopped the Note and the Spark, the less “value” I found in the little Nissan. The Note isn’t without its charms. The huge back seat and enormous cargo hold make it by far the most practical small hatch in America, the problem is all down to value. If you want sporty or luxury, buy the Fiesta but the best value in this compact segment is the Spark. It’s low $12,170 price tag rivals Nissan’s Versa sedan for the least expensive car but the $14,765 “1LT” with the manual is where the value is to be had. Priced several grand less than a comparable Note, the Spark beats Nissan at their own game. Minus one seat.

 

Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.39 Seconds

0-60: 9.13 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 17.08 Seconds @ 81.4 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 38.8 MPG over 761 Miles

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 70 dB

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65 Comments on “Review: 2014 Nissan Versa Note (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    Hank

    I keep thinking this is what the 2007 Honda Fit exterior should have looked more like (though you’re right about the Tiida being better looking). I don’t like the exterior of the Spark, but at least its interior is a lot more interesting.

  • avatar
    Ion

    I know the Spark is closer to it in price but the Versa is Sonic sized. 109 hp out of a 1.6l is abysmal especially for this weight class.

  • avatar
    letanon

    The base model Spark do come with power windows, but not power door locks.I just checked at the Chevrolet website to see if it had changed for 2014 but the specs are still the same. Power windows but no power door locks.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Seems very backwards. I’d much rather have power locks than windows.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Having gone from a car with manual windows and locks to a car with power both, I respectfully disagree. If you like to drive with the windows down, power windows are a huge boon. If I’m on surface streets, I can lower all four windows from the drivers seat. If I enter onto a road where I’ll be going over 45 mph, the windows go up and the HVAC goes on. Conversely, I have no need to lock/unlock the passenger doors while in motion. Don’t get me wrong. I like having power locks, but they haven’t proven to be the quantum leap in convenience that power windows have been.

        • 0 avatar
          letanon

          One of my cars have manual windows and locks but since most of the time I am alone in the car and most of the times I only lower my window (driver side)that is not really an inconvenience. What mostly bothers me is having to manually adjust the side mirrors, especially when they are completely manual meaning no inside knob to adjust them. Having to bend over adjust the mirror, get back to your seat and finding out that the mirror is still off is really annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I remember with my aunts old 80s Camry, she’d have to reach in and unlock each door before everyone could get out of the cold. How annoying.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Not sure I agree with your criteria here. At this level of pricing, what people are buying is transportation, not fun. And, in today’s market, saying a lower-priced model from another manufacturer that comes only with a manual gearbox is a “better value” is just not realistic. The number of people who can competently operate a manual gearbox is getting smaller every year; and the number of people who think it’s “fun” or even “not unpleasant” to do so under all circumstances is even smaller than that.

    I’m 6’3″ and I’ve driven the previous generation Versa. I did not feel cramped. I’ve sat in the driver’s seat of the Fiesta; I feel cramped. The rear seat? Out of the question. At this level of pricing, practicality is paramount; and even you admit that this car is the most practical.

    So, I respectfully dissent.

    An interesting data point: In the mid-1960s, a “value” car from Detroit would not have: a clock, a radio, air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, cruise control, power windows, floor carpeting and possibly, a passenger-side rear view mirror. It would have a 3-speed manual transmission and a 6-cylinder engine. It would carry 5 people comfortably, six in a pinch; and a lot of luggage in the trunk. Go back a few years more, and the passenger side sun visor would be an optional extra as would a cabin heater that admitted fresh air, rather than simply recirculating the cabin air. On the highway at 65 mph, it would get 20 miles per gallon of regular gas.

    People bought those cars for commuter use, to get groceries and to take their family on the annual two-week family vacation, air fare being prohibitively expensive for most people, and the train not being that much cheaper than the plane and a lot slower.

    • 0 avatar
      mshenzi

      I’m with DC-Bruce here. Part of the value proposition has to be ‘what do you need?’ When comparing Note vs Spark, this would start with ‘how much room do you need?’ The Spark may be a better value if the driver’s not tall, doesn’t need much of a back seat, and isn’t hauling a lot of stuff.

      When looking at B & C segment hatches a few years ago, my starting point what whether my (large) dog would fit comfortably in the back with the rear seat up. Until that was answered, other value factors weren’t relevant.

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      +1 to that. Rented a versa hatch last year and could not talk myself out of having hit 40mpg. My fillups both times so think I hit it.

      Have been driving this cars cousin (the cube) for the past four years and the back seat is a big seller. If my wife hadn’t fallen head over heels for the quirky looks of the cube I think we would have been driving a versa. Knock on wood but have not had a single problem not related to consumables like gas, tires, oil etc.

      Have not tried the competition and feel no urge to do so. Just like the cube, the back seat makes the sale. In a perfect world make mine a hatch with a manual. Also want a small hitch on the back. Who wants to buy my truck? As usual YMMV but that’s a winner for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      I know these priories will differ for each person, but I would have to agree with DC Bruce that at this price level, the car’s capability as a basic transportation would matter more than extra gadgets or its handling capability.

      And as a basic transportation, what matters the most apart from the purchase cost would be its reliability, fuel economy, and size. If you are carrying kids, the difference between a somewhat large for B segment Note and the solidly A segment Mirage or Spark/Matiz would be quite big.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I for one would still prefer the manual tranny over the auto saving the money for those necessaries like a decent stereo, power windows and locks and anything besides plastic wheel covers. Add to the savings costs at the buy, may find you save more over the years in service value as well when that fancy CVT in a cheap car implodes.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    The 3rd gen Fit is going to rip this car a new one. Nissan successfully cloned the 2009 Fit just as Honda retired it.

  • avatar
    ash78

    This is pretty close to the layout, engine power, and overall features of the VW Golf I bought in 1995 for a couple thousand more. The fuel economy is far better. In that sense, this is a phenomenal value in that you’re getting a high quality, but basic, car with pretty decent features for very little money.

    In my case, the idea agreed upon by my parents (I was turning 16) was that as long as I could make at least 50% of the payment amounts through my $4.25/hr job, it was a win/win to get a cheap new car with better warranty and safety features than a car several years old.

    This is a common mentality and I think this car serves it well. Secondarily, I could see single moms buying these for their families (again, non-enthusiasts who don’t want the hassle). If I were not an auto enthusiast bent on getting my kids to know, appreciate, and maintain their own cars, I would absolutely be shopping this for a high school/college runabout. It’s quirky enough to overcome the “dorky hatchback” stigma and the interior space seems phenomenal (always the big selling point on Versa, which IMHO makes most direct comparisons moot for people who really want space). Everything you need and nothing you don’t. Navigation? Here’s a window mount for your iphone.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    I suspect the Note will make up some ‘value’ ground on the Spark when you account for resale value.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Waiting to hear about the 2015 Honda Fit. My Fiesta has been one huge disappointment. 15 unscheduled repairs so far! I don’t care if it is “nicer”. One piece of “soft” plastic that you never touch doesn’t make it any nicer. They need to put the soft plastic on the top part of the doors where your arm touches it, not on the top of the dash.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    In terms of value, to me, it depends what you are looking for. If you want the lowest sticker price and some extra toys, the spark is it. But, If you want a bit more room and a better engineered car then the Versa is it.
    You get what you pay for and therein lies the definition of value.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My son and I test-drove a Versa last summer which searching for a car for him. I liked the way it drove, and was especially impressed with its throttle responsiveness. I’d say it was second to driving an EV.

    At the time the Note was pretty scarce; the dealer tried a bait-and-switch on us by advertising a Note which mysteriously disappeared when we arrived. Most of the Notes I see listed today are pimped up to $16275 and higher.

    The dealer experience was awful; I won’t detail it here. We ended up getting a CPO 2011 Sonata (somewhere else) for $15900 with only 10k on it; it’s a lot more car than the Versa Note. And that may be where it’s real competition lies – with other low-mileage used cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Good choice. After Jack’s little slow dance, I’m rethinking my daughter’s first car from Honda Fit to Subaru Crosstrek. Well made and maintained cars with 10-20k on them are practically new, and will easily take you to 200k.

  • avatar
    Topher

    Not to harp on the fact that MPG is a bad measurement of fuel economy, but…

    The difference between getting 38.8 and 36.8 MPG on your 761 mile week is 1.1 gallons.

    Versa Note, 761 miles at 38.8 MPG: 19.6 gallons
    Chevy Spark, 761 miles at 36.8 MPG: 20.7 gallons

    I’d gladly pay the extra $4 for a nicer place to be over the course of the 17+ hours you’d have to be in the car to travel 761 miles.

    (A 2 MPG gain is relatively small at higher MPGs, but huge at lower ones, which is why it’s such a bad measurement of fuel economy.)

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Thanks for the review. There must be something wrong with me as I’d rather read a review of plain-Jane hatchbacks and the decisions made on the options and dynamics of the car, rather than a write-up of the latest twin-turbo money-is-no-object car.

    • 0 avatar
      rdchappell

      I’m with you. I really couldn’t care less about what Jalopnik thinks about the long wheelbase Range Rover autobiography or whatever. None of them will ever be able to afford it, and never will I. TTAC’s old practice of doing 2-3 reviews of the same mainstream car over several years is something I’m more into.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      That’s the exact reason I have a hard time sitting through Top Gear. I almost wish they’d do more plebian reviews. They’ve got the skills to make it entertaining (Fiesta vs Corvette, anyone?)

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I feel the same way.

      It’s like professional porn vs amateur. I watch amateur and it’s like “hey, I can do that.” I see the pros and I say “I CANNOT do THAT.”

      • 0 avatar
        VelocityRed3

        Rod I agree 100%. Not only is this more relevant, becuase I might actually be able to afford a “nomrmal” car, but the engineering of designing to “normal” price points is, IMHO, superior to the we-can-stuff-everything-AND the kitchen sink mentality that passes for top design nowadays.

        joevetoe3 I agree with you too, but it sure is fun trying. :)

  • avatar
    afflo

    My wife has a 2007 Versa Hatchback (the previous generation). I’m sad to see the interior cheapening in the Note – the real beauty of the Versa was that it was a cheap, bargain bin car that didn’t feel bargain bin. It’s not fun to drive in any way – it’s like a slightly low first generation Honda CR-V.

    But the details on the inside are good. Every surface is padded. Door armrests are soft on your elbows. Even the door panels are padded. Dash is soft. The seats are full-size and feel like they’re from a larger car. The whole interior feels like an economy midsize – no special gee-whiz features, but roomy and well assembled, with good attention to detail. It can’t compete in fun or cargo volume, but for comfort and interior space… and feeling like a real car inside, it stands head and shoulders over the Fit.

    Sad to see that they’ve discontented it.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Coworker of mine bought previous generation Versa hatch. Was impressed with it. Seat and headliner material reminded me of an 80′s VW. Became my favorite car to go out to lunch in, sat 4 very comfortably and was easy to get in and out of. Also could fit 3 rear facing child seats in the back of it. Something that would be hard to do in much much larger cars. Most cars you can’t fit two in and still be able to drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      +1 to this and other, similar comments. A coworker of mine also has the previous-gen Versa hatch (which I guess would make it a C11 Tiida 5-door). It’s difficult to convince people who haven’t sat in one just how profoundly it trounces the competition in terms of rear seat legroom and headroom. It’s much better than most cars on the North American market, regardless of class.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Another businesslike, thorough and practical review. Much appreciated.

    Given the height and cargo dimensions of the Note along with the fact that this model climbed to over $19K, I think it should be compared with the Kia Soul as well as with the usual segment competitors. It really is a bridge between compact hatch and mini-CUV, just like the Soul.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Put me down for that, too. I do wish these reviews would have a line or two about the visibility from the driver’s seat, even to say its unremarkable. You can’t assume its OK if not mentioned, any more.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I just got one of these in December. I didn’t want a minivan and like “maximum space and gas mileage in the small footprint” concepts.

    The hard plastic on the door is a bit uncomfortable on the highway, but I’ve enjoyed the fuel economy, and the space is brilliant. We have one child, and perhaps will have another. This is more than big enough for them.

    My main complaints thus far have been that the CVT is temperature sensitive. The cold temperatures this winter mean that it is reluctant to drop into the lower planetary gear until the engine has warmed up, which hurts fuel economy. The other main complaint is initial build quality.

    The car was delivered with the steering wheel 20 degrees off centre, and the rear break light fell out of its mounting. The dealer fixed both immediately (and sent a rather angry report to Nissan Canada), but still, it should never have left the factory like that.

    Other than those two aspects, I have liked the car so far. Yes, it’s cheap and basic. I don’t need satnav (my phone does it better), I don’t need gizmos when driving, and this is a family car, not a sports car. As a practical tool, it’s excellent.

    When funds allow, the fun car will be able to join it.

    • 0 avatar

      As a point of comparison with the crooked steering wheel, didn’t Spark come from factory without brake pads? And then people drive-tested and bought them, and never noticed? So that GM recalled them and installed the pads?

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        That was Sonic, not Spark. Although I’m not privy to the details, my money is on the accounting system losing track of a number of brake pad sets that actually did exist in the car, as opposed to the cars actually being built and shipped and dealer-prepped without brake pads. In other words, the brake pads were actually there and were actually installed in the car, but something or someone in accounting botched a number somewhere, so that accounting’s version of the number of brake pads shipped didn’t match the number of vehicles produced. GM couldn’t prove that those vehicles had the brake pads installed, so they had to recall them to check.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          That’s not what happened. Sonics are shipped from Asia as a number of large sub-assemblies. The pre-loaded calipers shed some of their brake pads during shipping and were installed without anyone taking notice. How much money did you have on this?

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      this sounds like Yugo, you picked up the car things fell off, were off-center and now 2 montsh old the transmission is weird.Please write back when you hit the 3 month mark etc. :)

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        I wouldn’t quite characterize it as that. The transmission apparently has been engineered by Nissan to heat up the oil in the transmission quicker (at least, a review by a Canadian journo claimed Nissan had told him it did), and so it would appear Nissan actually are aware and designed around the issue.

        The other issues were corrected instantly by the dealership, and since then the car has been fine, beyond disliking the extreme cold we’ve had this winter as much as anything else has disliked it.

  • avatar
    rpm1200

    Egad, a base Note detones a bad age.

  • avatar
    Odysseus

    “Base shoppers get a simple head unit with a CD-player, aux input and four speakers.”

    It’s nice to have the Input jack, but a wireless receiver chip is 18c at Radio Shack. We are well past the time where this should be de rigeur. Hammer them for not including it.

    “Cheap” doesn’t have to mean “impossible to integrate”.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Wish someone would really make a value car again.

    Something really cheap, manual everything, 2-speaker (or maybe just one?) stereo, rubber floors, optional A/C, etc.

    Make it a traditional “3-box” car, hang some ugly real bumpers on either end, and maybe some plastic cladding on the sides. Something cheap and durable.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The reason no one does that anymore is that the bulk of the expense of building a car is no longer in those features. It’s in the stronger structure, safety engineering, high-tech materials, airbags, and emissions systems that make our cars safer and cleaner.

      Imagine that you stripped the carpet, two of the speakers, the power mirrors, and the A/C out of the base Versa sedan. That would probably save Nissan $200 in component costs, while requiring them to engineer a manual mirror control and a rubber floor mat. I just can’t see either the business case for making it or the consumer’s case for buying it, especially since the bulk of the saved costs would involve the A/C, which is really painful to lose in all but about two states.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    Honda gets it, Nissan apparently gets it, and VW gets it. If you have a small hatchback, move the rear seat back to provide extra legroom and shrink the trunk.

  • avatar
    Onus

    Girlfriends mom has a Tiida hatch. Like it and in European / Russian spec you can get all sorts of interesting options. Like she has the base cd no bs radio, and automatic climate control, and heated cloth seats.

    Why oh why can i not configure a car that way?

    Sad to see we didn’t get the next generation Tiida. They look nice from what i see. The note also looks better in European spec. I really want to like this car but the 2nd trim level ( the only one you would actually want ) puts it in fiesta territory. Now if it started at 10k like the sedan i wouldn’t complain as much.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Is there a reason the hatchback is so muchmore expensive? I can’t beleive the hatch cost that much. for small cars a sedan really is not practical (neither it is for large cars imho).

    Or is the sedan only there to advertise a low MSRP, and people actually buy the more expensive hatch?

    At the hatch price the Fit seem cheap. the fit isn’t fancy, but what it does it does very well.

    I see they have a flat floor now when tipping over the rear seat. How does cargo compare to the Fit?

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      I’m curious about the egregious hatchback premium, too. It’s a mere $600 more for a Sonic hatchback over an equivalently equipped sedan.

      Seems like the only reason for the big hatchback premium other company’s charge is simple price gouging.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Tailored shirt and slacks with suspenders, you should dress as nice as your reviews.

  • avatar
    oleladycarnut

    The Fit is still the benchmark for a small impossible to kill hatchback. Look at the interior photo of the rear seats in the Note put into cargo mode. The huge gap between the rear seats and the front takes away a lot of cargo space. The Fit seats fold totally flat and level. And no other small hatchback has the Magic seats like in the Fit.

    A base model automatic 2013 Fit can be picked up for around 15500. Nothing fancy. Who needs all the entertainment features packed into cars today?

    Guess I love my Fits and have for years!

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Well, Deadweight, give Alex credit — you’ve ripped him over and over because he never gives a thumbs-down to a car, and in the end he did it to this one.

    I’m waiting.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I don’t he gave it a thumbs-down as much as “the Sonic makes more sense to me”. The review overall was that the car is competent enough, cheap but huge interior. Note he consistently wasn’t very complimentary to the Mitsubishi.

      It appears to me that Alex’s reviews are ‘just the facts’ from the everyman perspective, a few apples and oranges thrown in for comparison.

      1. Some of the best common sense reviews I read.
      2. Of cars that make sense in my financial world.
      3. He doesn’t use exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Karesh over at TrueDelta reviews in the same mode – reviews that make sense for the rest of us.

      • 0 avatar
        gasser

        +1 on above.
        I like reviews on this type of car.
        I have no chance of buying a Bentley, Maserati, CTS-V or Panamera. I have, however, had the occasion to buy starter cars for both kids when in high school and as my own boss, rented many a base model to save $$. In this price class I’d seek function over fun.
        Also (several posts up) the alternative to a cheap new car has always been the used car. This was somewhat skewed in the last few years as new car sales fell, trade ins fell, fewer used cars drove prices up to almost new car levels. Now as used car prices are moderating, there is again Value in late model used cars. I’d sooner buy a used something than the too small for my taste Sprint. The Versa Note review grabbed my interest.

  • avatar
    Joss

    You’ll find more value in a model year or two around Fall. 109hp & CVT should make the engine last longer, provided it’s serviced. My experience with low end Nissan. I could never get the color & option group I wanted unless I was prepared to wait and factory order. Seemed some old lady always beat me to my order

    As for basic transportation my needs have changed. I walk, cycle and Zipcar in my middle age. Wish Zip had been around when I was younger, pardon the gas on:

    No more dealerships & their salespeople. Heck even a winter accident puts Zip’s deductible onto my CC provider. I just have to remember to circle check now I’m driving fleet, less I head out with empty washer fluid. At the moment I’m luvin it cause I get to try different flavors. My insurance has gone to home coverage only and Zip provides a gas card in the glovebox. I’m less stressed walking or cycling to work. I just have to dress for a -40C windchill. As for a service & wash why should I service & wash somebody else’s? You won’t believe how liberating this is.

  • avatar
    Atum

    “It’s low $12,170 price tag rivals Nissan’s Versa sedan for the least expensive car but the $14,765 “1LT” with the manual is where the value is to be had.”

    CVT mileage > manual mileage. With the new-for-2014 CVT, the Spark 1LT would be a better value without the stick. The Note has a CVT as well. Still, good review.

  • avatar
    V6

    Don’t get too excited about the new “sexy” Tiida. it has similar tall/narrow proportions to the old model and looks better in picture.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    Aren’t you comparing a 4 seater in the Versa Note to what is effectively a 2 seater in the Spark? The comparison doesn’t seem fair.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I am shocked at that legroom, I think that would be a boon to people who have kids and car seats in this segment. The interior looks nasty though, and I’m not sure the loss of a seat and some width inches makes the Spark that comparable.

    The Spark also looks more ridiculous.

    And I wonder what a 300hp large sedan would feel like to someone so used to driving around in little subcompact cars with their 100hp.

  • avatar
    plee

    I am sure that if reviewers drove a CVT equipped car for the long term, especially Nissans, they would not be so quick to give that transmission a pass. Jump in an Altima/Sentra etc with CVT that has a lot of miles on the clock and you will experience an unacceptable level of noise, vibration through the steering wheel, clunks, whirs, chain noises, and last but not least engine drone. The newer ones which drop the revs really low at low speed, have a resonance and vibration that surely people must be hearing. That will drive you crazy when the car is a few years old. The 2.5 Altima CVT is a rough car when it has miles on it. My suggestion to those who are considering a purchase of one, think about it long and hard. There are many other great cars that still use a traditional automatic.

  • avatar
    kenzter

    I picked up a Versa rental yesterday. Every review of this car mentions the rear seat legroom. But what has gone unnoticed is lack of space in the front. I’m 6’3″. Tall, but no Shaq. The drivers seat doesn’t go anywhere near far enough back. At its rearmost position, my right leg is hitting my coffee cup. My left knee, with my foot on the dead pedal, is ABOVE the armrest/window switch panel. Yet there is tons of space left behind me. Inexcusable, and not a problem I’ve had in a Sonic or Fit.


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