2014 Nissan Versa Note first drive
The price is right
Montreal, Que. — Good things come in small packages – at least that’s the case with the all-new 2014 Nissan Versa Note. It’s a practical, smart, and fuel efficient hatchback. And best of all, it costs less than the previous Versa hatchback; the new Note starts at only $13,348, $1,330 less than its predecessor. Even if you splurge on the most expensive model with all the bells and whistles, it still won’t break the bank, at $19,018, a drop of $1,060 compared to the last version’s $20,078 price.
The 2014 Nissan Versa Note comes in three trims (S, SV and SL) with two transmission choices: a five-speed manual or a next-generation continuously variable transmission (CVT). The CVT continuously changes through its infinite gears by connecting two pulleys with a metallic belt and changing their diameter by using hydraulic pressure. Admittedly, I haven’t been a big fan of CVTs in the past, and in this case, I still prefer the stick. But the second-generation CVT is less whiney and loud than its predecessor, a marked improvement. Although it still drones under hard acceleration, it’s a faint noise in the background, easily drowned out by music.
Easier on your wallet
Photo: Petrina Gentile
The CVT also returns better fuel mileage than the manual; the front-wheel-drive Note with the CVT averages 6.1 L/100 km in the city and 4.8 L/100 km on the highway, which is a 17 per cent improvement compared to the outgoing version. The five-speed manual, on the other hand, averages 7.4 L/100 km in the city and 5.4 L/100 km on the highway. The Note has also shed serious weight – more than 135 kg (300 lb) with its new platform and drivetrain, more than 22 kg (50 lb) just because of the new engine, CVT and driveshaft.
Under the hood is a 1.6-litre DOHC inline four-cylinder engine, which produces 109 horsepower and 107 lb.-ft. of torque. Sure, those numbers aren’t going to leave you speechless, and the Note certainly isn’t going to win on any track, but the overall ride and handling are pleasant and controlled for such a small vehicle. It feels secure and comfortable and it’s not as harsh or jarring as you’d expect. The steering, however, is a bit lacklustre and numb. It doesn’t handle like an agile, fast little go-cart, but in fairness, it’s not meant to.