By on April 6, 2019

Journalists who holler nonstop for “affordable cars!” have one less model to choose from. As it isn’t a vehicle patterned off the original Fiat 124/Lada 1200, with the quality and handling of a BMW, suffice it to say the Nissan Versa Note probably didn’t rank high on their might-buy list.

And yet the Versa Note did offer buyers a cheap way to move five people and a decent amount of cargo from place to place, with a standard continuously variable automatic sweetening the pot for those who never bothered learning a stick. After 2019, it’s gone from North American dealers.

This sad(?) bit of news comes by way of CarsDirect, which discovered, via order guides, that the Mexican-built four-door hatch stands to end production this month. The overseas Nissan Note, built in the UK and Japan, seems to be safe in those markets.

Nissan spokesman Jeff Wandell confirmed the model’s discontinuation, telling CarsDirect, “Starting with the introduction of the redesigned 2020 model the Versa will only be offered as a sedan. Sales of the hatchback Versa Note in North America will end after the 2019 model year.”

Expect to see a next-generation Versa sedan debut at an event in Florida next week, the publication claims.

While Nissan Canada hasn’t confirmed the model’s discontinuation in that market (we’re waiting for a response), buyers living north of the border don’t have the option of getting into a Versa sedan. The Versa Note stands alone up there, undercut in price only by the aging Micra subcompact. It’s possible the next-gen Versa sedan will appear in its place, but again, no confirmation on that front.

In the U.S., the Versa Note retails for $16,535 after delivery and offers a singular powertrain — a 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque, mated to the aforementioned CVT. Versa sedan buyers can drive away for less money, with that model offering a five-speed manual in a base trim that stickers for $13,245. Equipped with a CVT, the sedan come out $1,150 cheaper.

CarsDirect, um, notes that inventory of the Versa hatch have practically dried up in the U.S., with fewer than 300 examples remaining.

The Nissan Versa Note’s wind-down comes after the automaker foisted the subcompact, front-drive-only Kicks crossover on North American buyers for the 2018 model year. The plucky Kicks, which offers decent ground clearance and a peppier version of the 1.6-liter, earned applause for a pre-destination starting price below 18 grand. For 2019, that entry price rose to $19,585 after destination.

In Canada, the base Kicks S continues with its launch MSRP of $17,998, though destination brings that total to $19,793. A Versa Note starts at $16,348 after destination.

Is the Kicks the answer to buyers let down by the Versa Note’s cancellation? Perhaps, but the two models aren’t exactly rubbing shoulders in terms of price. Of course, it’s not like Nissan faced growing demand for the Versa line. Sales of both hatch and sedan (Nissan doesn’t break down the two models in its sales reporting) fell 29 percent in the U.S. in 2018, and the first three months of 2019 shows a less severe decline of 1.5 percent.

Kicks sales in the first quarter of 2019 stand at almost half the Versa’s volume (12,519 to the Versa’s 24,992).

[Image: Nissan]

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43 Comments on “America’s Second-cheapest Nissan Bows Out of the Market...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    When my son was looking for a car in 2013, we cross-shopped a new Versa Note vs a used 11 Sonata. He ended up with the Sonata, mainly because the Nissan dealer experience was so terrible, and the Hyundai guy was OK.

    In hindsight, the Versa Note would have been more reliable, but not as suitable for long trips. I liked driving it.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    There are economy cars and then the Nissan Versa Note…….

    I guess it competes against the Honda Fit.

    Both terrible cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Zipster

      Sierra Slt

      The Honda Fit is a terrible car? Having owned one, I would much rather have the life style it enabled me to have than the constrained life style the expensive Sierra Slt imposed on you. It does cost you considerably more money to feel superior.

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT

        Zipster-

        I haven’t read one review-NOT ONE saying the Honda Fit is a good HIGHWAY CRUISER. If you can find one-LINK IT and I will read it.

        BTW-I traded in the 2012 Sierra SLT on a brand new 2018 Silverado LTZ Crew Cab (4WD) because I could……

        • 0 avatar
          Charliej

          So you like three ton vehicles. There are some of us who prefer small light vehicles. Not for gas mileage or low cost. But for driving pleasure. I have owned F-350 Ford’s and my last truck was a Sprinter 3500. All driven for business not pleasure. Now that I have been retired for a few years I prefer a very light vehicle. My daily transportation is a Honda motorscooter. The ultimate in riding pleasure in the small town in the mountains of Mexico where I live.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          “I haven’t read one review-NOT ONE saying the Honda Fit is a good HIGHWAY CRUISER.”

          You won’t find one because auto reviewers buy into the stereotype that “highway cruisers” have to be large, heavy, and softly-sprung. The “here today, gone tomorrow nature” of the business means they don’t run actual trials with all types of vehicles to evaluate such things, nor do they sit down and establish criteria by which to offer such judgements.

          • 0 avatar
            probert

            Not sure about your car criteria, but the Fit will cruise all day at 80 mph and half the day at 90. Not a problem really.

        • 0 avatar
          Zipster

          Not because you could, but because you are a narcissist.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          “BTW-I traded in the 2012 Sierra SLT on a brand new 2018 Silverado LTZ Crew Cab (4WD) because I could……”

          I’ll probably get something similar in a year or two when I finally dump the ’07 Tahoe. But it will sit in the garage relegated to mostly towing duty . During the week I much prefer to drive my Gen 1 Volt. A Honda Fit, you couldn’t pay me to get behind the wheel of one of those crap boxes

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      Fit is terrific. Although, I’m a little sad that Honda switched Fit to CVT. My 2013 was the last year with a 5sp auto.

      • 0 avatar
        mister steve

        In my opinion, the first generation Fit was the better car all around. My wife was shopping for a new car in 2015, and was all set to buy the Fit until she drove that year’s model. She was turned off by the CVT’s buzziness, and the all around cheapness of the 2nd gen model.

        Oddly enough, she ended up buying a Sentra sedan, and although it doesn’t offer a hatch, it has tons of interior room and a better highway ride than the newer Fit. She also consistently gets 32 mpg around town.

        • 0 avatar
          PSX 5k Ultra Platinum Triple Black

          I owned a 2009 fit sport manual transmission. It was fun to drive, but overall a terrible car to live with every day. Within 5,000 miles the gearshift knob disintegrated, the paint was super thin and chipped easily, it was super loud inside, and at 40,000 miles the a/c began to work spottily. Honda said it was “an engineering defect” and couldn’t be fixed. Honda did recall the lost motion springs in the engine, and that improved the engine performance noticeably.
          When I say it was loud on the inside, I mean that if it was windy and you were on the highway doing 65 mph, it felt like the doors were going to be ripped off the car; they literally would pull away from the frames and allow lots of air in the vehicle.
          Even though this is not an issue with the car itself, the replacement parts were hard to find and expensive. The day after I drove it home, I had a flat tire, and a new 185/55/16 Firestone tire was $165 and had to be special ordered (only Firestone made a 185/55/16 at the time). And the first month the windshield cracked and a new windshield was $1,0000.
          Best thing about the car was the interior room and the resale value. It was totaled after almost 4 years and 65,000 miles, I paid $16,800 for it new. Insurance appraised the value at $15,100.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Of course! Why sell the Versa Note when you can charge $3k more for the same car by just adding some cheap black plastic?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      And a more powerful engine, and more cargo space, and the same city MPG and only slightly worse highway MPG, and it wont take an act of Congress to sell for something that even remotely resembles a profit.

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        You are talking about the rating. Look on Fuelly.com and you will find the difference is more like 5-6 mpg average.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        A more powerful engine, but also more weight – on paper, it looks like you’ll notice approximately zero difference in real world driving experience (re. slow either way). Is 6cu ft of cargo space worth $3k, really?

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    “The plucky Kicks, which offers decent ground clearance..”

    Ground clearance for what, the drive thru at Taco Bell? And why cancel it if is selling double the amount of the Kicks?

  • avatar
    blockmachining

    I’ve owned a 2008 Nissan Versa SL hatchback and currently own a 2012 Versa SL hatchback. Loved both of them. After buying and experiencing an all electric Chevy Bolt, I’m done with buying a car with an internal combustion engine.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      Given your history of vehicle ownership, I understand.

      Mrs. Barra appreciates your support as she continues to roll out the wide range of GM EVs.

      • 0 avatar
        blockmachining

        History of ownership? About five years ago, after 53 different vehicles, I stopped counting the number of vehicles I have owned. I’ve owned everything from a 210 mph motorcycle, 177 mph sports car, 61 mph beetle, Ram 3500 crew cab dually with 900 foot pounds of torque and minivans. The Versa gets you from point A to point B in comfort with tons of legroom at a minimum cost. It does exactly what it was designed to do and what this consumer wanted at the time. Mrs. Barr is indeed doing a great job leading GM into the future. If you haven’t driven a Tesla, Bolt or Leaf, go check them out. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Good!

  • avatar

    Since Ghosn is in jail Nissan is not chasing volume at the expense of profitability anymore. It may explain why volume sunk like a stone and unprofitable models are cancelled.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I dont hate the styling, at least not as much as the sedan. But, I cant see choosing it over a Honda Fit unless price was the *only* consideration (I’m sure you could negotiate a significant amount from a Nissan dealer vs the Honda).

    That said, let’s revisit some of the rants about how American carmakers are so stupid for discontinuing cars in favor of CUVs, and how the Japanese wouldn’t dare shoot themselves in the foot like that. Somehow I doubt this will be the last car (who’s defacto replacement is a CUV) to be discontinued by a non-American company.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I rented a Versa Note from Hertz on the big Island in Hawaii in January 2015. It was ideal for two people driving around the mostly two lane roads on the island. While acceleration was nothing to write home about, it was not an issue since you were going nowhere fast anyway. It did return over 40 mpg in what I would call mostly city style driving. I don’t know how it felt at 65 mph since I rarely go over 50 mph. The main problem I had with the car was that even though it was bright red, it seemed invisible to other drivers around Kona. I was almost hit twice the the par king lot at a strip mall within two minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      Rented a Hyundai Accent when I went a few years back. When we arrived, they had “upgraded” us to a PT Cruiser. Tried to redowngrade, turns out they didn’t actually have an Accent on the Island. PT got ~20mpg in a mostly highway mix.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    Have rented one. Not nearly as terrible as the sedan.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Maybe this is an opportunity for the Chinese manufacturers to get into the US auto market with an affordable compact hatchback and sedan. Once the Big 2 and a half, the Japanese, and possibly the South Koreans abandon the subcompact and compact auto market this would open the door for the Chinese. I wouldn’t mind if the Chinese offered a true compact pickup with a decent sized bed in a single cab and extended cab with roll down windows and manual transmission. Probably will not happen but I see an opportunity and there are enough of us that don’t want to spend over 30k for a simple and basic vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The low end market has been abandoned because it’s not profitable. It’s not profitable because the margins are razor thin, and because consumers quickly figure out that they get a lot more vehicle for a modest price bump, or even the same price.

      Consequently, there really aren’t a lot of people that want such cars any more. Besides, for the same money you can get a much better CPO car that’s only a year or two old.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    One of the causes of death of the “economy car” is that it isn’t so economical anymore!

    Let’s look at Hyundai. At retail, an Elantra sells for $1000 more than an Accent AND it gets the same combined MPG from the EPA. And the Elantra is a much better car, with more displacement and power.

    On your typical 60-month loan, the Elantra is maybe $15/month more. Why bother with an Accent?

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      True, in a world drowning in credit and debt, nobody looks at the bottom line anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      “And the Elantra is a much better car, with more displacement and power.”

      Only in America. For Europeans (it includes also Brits) smaller and less powerful car is is better. Versa is an ideal car for European market like dream come true.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I’m genuinely curious where that assertion is coming from. I’ve grown up in the United States during the tail end of the horsepower wars (I was born in 1988) where power was always key. I admittedly have an amerocentric bias and am curious if Europeans legitimately appreciate cheap and cheerful motoring.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The Note was soooooo much better looking than the sedan, but with itty bitty cars I generally feel like the hatches are better looking than the sedans as a general rule.

  • avatar
    ShoogyBee

    The first-gen Versa hatchback was quite popular in the US around a decade ago. It didn’t represent the pinnacle of quality, but the bugs and build quality issues were largely eradicated after the first couple of years of production. It was spacious enough to seat four adults in comfort and it had a relatively smooth and quiet ride. The hatch version was more popular and looked better than the sedan version, too. The main negative was the sub-par fuel economy for the 4-speed automatic versions.

    Fast forward a decade later. The Versa Note seems like a penalty box in comparison to the original Versa hatch. But tastes and preferences have evolved since 2009, and the market has ultimately spoken.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Much rather pay a little more to buy new than get used especially to get a full warranty and not run the risk of buying a flood damaged late model passed off as a CPO. Price a small car right and it will sell especially if it is a new company entering the market. Car prices have gone up especially late model used car prices. I think a Chinese auto company could make inroads with a small basic compact and subcompact. Price the base model below 10k and it would sell. As for a compact pickup price one at 19k or below for a single cab to extend cab with few options. The car market will be entering a downturn and not everyone can afford 30k vehicle and there is only so long a loan can be extended.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      “Price the base model below 10k and it would sell.”

      I’m not sure that’s feasable. The last sub 10000 dollar car I owned (new) was a 1992 Saturn SL…manual everything, no passenger side mirror, AM/FM only radio, and no airbags. You could tick the AC option block and stay under 10 grand.

      While I’m ok with a true base model like that, it was 1992 so I’m not sure how in 2019 you’d hit that price point.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Needed some love in the handling department, a nice shifting manual, a sweet revving motor, and SE-R badges.


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