Why the New 2014 Nissan Versa Note Matters:
Let’s try to clear up some confusion right off the bat. Nissan sells a car called the Versa, and offers it in 5-door hatchback and 4-door sedan flavors. Nissan redesigned the Versa Sedan for the 2012 model year, and now it’s the Versa Hatchback’s turn. When the new version of the car arrives in the summer of 2013, it will be called the 2014 Nissan Versa Note.
Why “Note”? Why not? Apparently, this version of the Versa is named Note because the car headed our way is called the Nissan Note elsewhere on the planet. It sure isn’t because the standard 4-speaker stereo produces awe-inspiring sound.
Claiming that the 2014 Versa Note is designed to provide “innovations for the way people live,” Nissan says that the Versa Note “gives notice that in an era of changing consumer needs and expectations, Versa intends to remain far ahead of the rest of the entry-level pack.”
Based on what we know right now, it appears that the company intends to remain far ahead of the Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Mazda 2, and Toyota Yaris by offering what the company claims is “class-leading cargo space” combined with a Divide-N-Hide adjustable cargo floor system, available NissanConnect technology, an optional AroundView Monitor system, and an optional Easy Fill Tire Alert system.
Otherwise, the Versa Note represents a textbook execution of a sub-compact car.
- 109-horsepower, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine
- 5-speed manual gearbox or continuously variable transmission
- Standard active grille shutters
- Highway fuel economy rating of 40 mpg
- Claimed class-leading cargo space
- Adjustable rear load floor height
- Optional NissanConnect smartphone pairing technology with hands-free text messaging capability
- Optional navigation system
- Optional reversing camera system
- Optional AroundView monitoring system
- $13,990 base price
- Hecho en Mexico
- On sale in Summer, 2013
Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc., said: “Along with exceptional spaciousness, Versa Note offers the ingenuity to address the needs of owners who need one vehicle to perform the tasks of many – people hauler, cargo hauler, commuter transportation, and weekend playmate.”
Given the, umm, versatility expected of the 2014 Versa Note, Nissan says the car’s “sporty, energetic” design is reflective of “the active lives of its target buyers.” What constitutes sporty and energetic design? According to Nissan, a long wheelbase, short front and rear overhangs, a steeply sloped windshield and sculpted doors with what is known as a squash line stamped into them for extra character. If you like what you see, it will be available in Metallic Peacock, Morning Sky Blue, Metallic Blue, Red Brick, Brilliant Silver, Magnetic Gray, Super Black and Aspen White.
Inside, the new Versa Note is spartan yet stylish, with circular elements providing the dominant design theme. Round air vents, a traditional three-gauge cluster, rounded door handles, and a simple center stack equipped with a circular climate control system are key highlights of a cabin to be offered in Charcoal or Wheat Stone colors.
The Versa Note’s interior seats 5 people, is equipped with a standard 60/40-split folding rear seat that provides a flat load floor when folded down, and 21.4 cu.-ft. of trunk room when the rear seat is in use. A Divide-N-Hide adjustable cargo floor is standard.New 2014 Nissan Versa Note: What’s Under the Hood
The outgoing Versa Hatchback has a 122-horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 127 lb.-ft. of torque. It gets 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway when paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The redesigned 2014 Nissan Versa Note is equipped with a smaller, less powerful 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, the same one installed in the Versa Sedan. It generates 109 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 107 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard for the base model, while other Versa Notes get a CVT.
The result of this smaller and less powerful engine, combined with a 0.298 coefficient of drag and active grille shutters that help streamline airflow over the car, is that the new Versa Note is expected to get 31 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway when equipped with the CVT.
All models with a CVT have low rolling-resistance tires, mounted to either 15-inch steel wheels or optional 16-inch aluminum wheels. Additionally, the new Nissan Versa Note is equipped with electric steering, an independent front suspension, a torsion beam rear suspension, and front disc/rear drum anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.New 2014 Nissan Versa Note: Features and Technology
The new 2014 Nissan Versa Note will be sold in 1.6 S, 1.6 S Plus, and 1.6 SV trim levels. The base model offers little in the way of standard equipment, as is evidenced by the fact that power windows, power door locks, cruise control, Bluetooth, a height adjustable driver’s seat, and a center armrest are options.
Upgraded cloth seats are also available, along with heated front seats, fog lights, aluminum wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 4.3-inch in-dash display, a USB port with iPod control, satellite radio, Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button ignition, and a RearView Monitor.
The SL Tech Package, offered for the 1.6 SV model, includes heated side mirrors and an AroundView Monitor, which provides a 360-degree top-down view of the Versa Note to help make parking easier. This package also supplies NissanConnectsmartphone pairing technology with a 5.8-inch color touchscreen display. Nissan Connect also includes a Navigation System with real-time traffic and weather, Google POI search and send-to-car capability, PandoraInternet radio streaming (for iPhone only), Bluetooth streaming audio, and a hands-free text-messaging assistant.
Additionally, an Easy Fill Tire Alert system is offered for the Versa Note, which makes it easier to inflate the tires to the proper pressure because it sounds the horn when the tire is full.New 2014 Nissan Versa Note: What Autobytel Thinks
As with other recently redesigned Nissans – Altima, Pathfinder, Sentra, Versa Sedan – the new 2014 Versa Note is designed to make life easier for its owner, providing what the target market wants in a new vehicle, as well as a handful of features they might not have known they wanted but are delighted to have.
Whether this strategy produces a strong brand identity for Nissan and long-term success for the company remains to be seen, but without a more compelling reason to purchase a Nissan, we’re skeptical.