Saturday Road Test – Nissan Note

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2014 Nissan Versa Note

An Economical Basic People Hauler

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD – If it is fuel economy, low price and lots of cargo and people carrying capacity that you are seeking in a new set of wheels the latest version of the Versa may strike the right note.

Assembled in Mexico the Note is the hatchback companion to the Versa sedan.

The test car was a top of the line SV model with a CVT transmission and a weak 1.6-liter four rated at 109 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque.

Pushing the powertrain produced lots of noise, and entry to a fast moving interstate required a foot to the floor maneuver. Even then there wasn’t much power, but the CVT gave the impression it was eking out all that the four had to provide. 0-60 came in at a rather slow 11 seconds.

But once up to cruising speed the Note was surprisingly quiet and the ride was better than one might expect in this price range.

The name of the game here is fuel economy and the test car was rated at 31-40 mpg by the EPA for a combined 35 mpg. In a week of country, city and interstate driving in both light and clogged rush hour traffic I came out at 32.3 mpg. A stick shift is only available in the base model S.

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Included in the test Note was an $800 SL Tech Package that included navi with a 5.8-inch color touch screen, voice recognition of audio and navigation, traffic and weather info, POIs powered by Google, an around view monitor and heated outside mirrors.

A more expensive, $1,700 SL Package brought a long list of items including 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, heated front seats, push button ignition and even an “SL Badge” among other things! All this plus floor mats and rear cargo cover brought the price from a base of $15,900 to $19,545 with delivery included.

Nice touches included the Divide-n-Hide adjustable floor in the cargo area, more than a little handy for storing things that passersby should not know are there. Missing was a telescoping steering wheel, rather strange given all the options that are available on the Note.

2014 Nissan Versa Note

Outstanding for a car of this size was the huge, limo like room for two adults in the back seat. This also translates into lots of cargo space, up to 38 cubic feet, or more than enough for serious grocery shopping for a weekend BBQ party or a run to the mega hardware store.

On the down side, materials used in the interior were very much on the inexpensive side with lots of hard plastic even on the door mounted arm rests.

All in all, this is an errand running commuter car at a low price if one goes easy with options. An even more bare bones S model can be had for $14,180 for a 2015 model that is virtually unchanged from the test car.

Consumers may also want to take a toot in the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, or Hyundai Accent with the revamped Fit leading my list of candidates among entry level cars.

 

 

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