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First Drive: 2014 Nissan Versa Note (Review)

2014 Nissan Versa Note

Last year Nissan promised five new models to its lineup, which started with the all-new Altima, followed by the new Sentra and Pathfinder. Now Nissan has introduced its fourth all-new model, the 2014 Nissan Versa Note, which is the replacement for the Versa hatchback. The Nissan Versa dominates the subcompact segment and with the addition of the all-new hatchback, which will be sold alongside the existing sedan version, Nissan is confident that it will continue to hold onto the number one sales spot.

2014 Nissan Versa Note

For the new 2014 Nissan Versa Note, Nissan set the goal for the hatchback to be "stylish, roomy and fuel efficient." On the outside the new Versa Hatchback says goodbye to the goofy styling for something that is more along the lines of the Honda Fit. The 2014 Versa Note is now based on the new V platform and is six inches shorter than the outgoing model, with the six inch cut coming from the front and rear overhangs. The 2014 Versa Note is also around 300 pounds lighter than the outgoing model.

2014 Nissan Versa Note

Nissan also paid very close attention to the aerodynamic shape of the new Versa Note and is quick to point out that its coefficient of drag is only .298, which is lower than some sports cars. Nissan also employed an active grille shutter and other underbody wind deflectors to make it as aerodynamic as possible.

Thanks to its significant weight loss, a more aerodynamic exterior and a new more efficient powertrain, the Versa Note is rated at 40 mpg on the highway with the available CVT transmission. The 2014 Versa Note is powered by a 1.6L engine with 109 horsepower. The engine can be mated to either a standard five-speed manual or new 2nd-generation CVT that is lighter and gets a new sub-planetary gear. The Versa Note with the CVT transmission is rated at 31 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined. The 35 mpg combined rating is higher than the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit.

Although the Versa Note is now six inches shorter, that doesn't mean that the interior takes a hit. The Versa Note has the most rear legroom, front headroom, cargo volume and total passenger volume in its class. It's incredibly spacious and six-feet passengers will easily fit in the back seat. Inside the Versa Note gets lots of tech features like Nissan's Around View camera system, NissanConnect infotainment system, heated front seats, and a navigation system. Fully loaded the Versa Note is priced at $19,280.

2014_nissan_versa_note

Nissan improved the Versa Note's styling, while preserving the spacious interior that buyers loved about the last one. But how does it drive? With only 109 horsepower under the hood, the Versa Note isn't going to surprise anyone. It's acceleration was as expected. Our biggest complaint is that Nissan only offers the five-speed manual on the base Versa Note, while the other trims come standard with the CVT. After driving both the five-speed manual and CVT back to back, we'd love to see the five-speed manual offered on more trim levels. The five-speed was able to squeeze a bit more out of the engine than the CVT. But Nissan expects that only around 10 percent of Versa Note buyers will actually want the five-speed. With that said the new CVT is an improvement over the last one.

On our drive throughout the back roads and freeways in San Diego, CA the Versa Note's steering was impressive and body roll was kept to a minimum. We were also impressed with how quiet the interior was at full speed.

2014_nissan_versa_note

Nissan expects that the new 2014 Versa Note will continue to maintain the Versa's sales lead over models like the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit. After our quick drive we expect they are right. The Versa Note packs everything that most buyers in this segment demand. Its efficient engine, roomy interior and available features all at a decent price make it hard to beat.

2014 Nissan Versa Note
Base Price: $14,780
Price as Tested: $19,280

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