By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.9
While it shares the Versa sedan’s name, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note hatchback is quite a different animal. Shorter front and rear overhangs give the Versa Note a sportier, more youthful look, and its hatchback design provides more versatility. Although it can’t match the sedan’s low price, the Versa Note is still one of the least expensive 5-doors you can buy. It must be said that the Versa Note lacks the fun-to-drive feel found with the Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta, making the Versa Note a better choice for those simply seeking basic transportation. However, unlike many of its rivals, the Versa Note offers a fairly large back seat and cargo area, not to mention some very cool technology.
If finding economical transportation at a fair price is more important than finding a ride that will get your heart racing, Nissan’s 2016 Versa Note hatchback will likely strike a chord. It’s frugal at the pump and easy to drive, yet can easily accommodate four adults.
If you’re the slightest bit a driver at heart, cars like the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic are so much more fun to toss around the curves. The Versa Note for 2016 isn’t big on power, either, and the base model’s crank windows may be a deal killer.
KBB Expert Ratings
Last year’s Convenience package (NIssanConnect mobile apps, 5-inch color display, streaming Bluetooth and satellite radio), as well as a rearview camera and the Divide-N-Hide adjustable floor are now standard on the 2016 Nissan Versa Note SV.
Nissan’s 2016 Versa Note isn’t going to win much praise from those who think compact cars should be quick and fun to drive. But, for commuters, college...
... kids and first-time buyers, the Versa Note’s comfortable ride, peppy engine and roomy interior will probably win two big thumbs up. We found the Note’s level of refinement and competence refreshing, with communicative steering and a fairly quiet cabin. The available CVT automatic transmission, on the other hand, takes some getting used to. It doesn’t use conventional shift points and causes the engine to rev high more often than one might expect. Of course, with only 109 horsepower on tap, getting the Versa Note to move quickly often requires nailing the gas pedal to the floor, but once underway the little Nissan scoots along just fine.
AROUND VIEW MONITOR
Available on the Versa Note SL, the around-view monitor gives the driver a 360 view outside the car, making parallel parking and backing up a much less worrisome prospect.
Nissan has perfected the CVT automatic and it works flawlessly in the 2016 Versa sedan. The gearless transmission maximizes power and fuel economy, helping the Versa Note achieve 40 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg in the city.
Despite the 2016 Versa Note’s small exterior, there is a lot to talk about inside. Rear-seat passengers have 37 inches of legroom, three inches more than in the Chevy Sonic. As a grocery-getter, the Note swallows 18.8 cubic feet with rear seats up or up to 38.3 with them down. Up front, controls and cabin materials are basic, but logical and easy to use. Features like a standard tilt steering wheel and height-adjustable driver’s seat go a long way to helping one find a comfortable driving position.
Thanks to a fresh face similar to that of its larger siblings the Sentra and Altima, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note has more visual pizazz than before. More appealing from a stylistic standpoint, this 5-door hatchback's overhangs are six inches shorter than the Versa sedan’s, and the result is a more energetic-looking design. The Note’s tall doors make entry and exit easier, and the long rear doors simplify tasks such as installing a child safety seat. The Versa Note SR trim goes for a sportier look with standard fog lights, black and chrome accents, and a unique front fascia.
A base 2016 Versa Note hatchback has a tempting price for sure, but you will have to sacrifice some creature comforts. The Note comes standard with air conditioning, power mirrors, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/Aux audio system, tilt wheel, trip computer, Bluetooth, front disc/rear drum brakes, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, 5-speed manual transmission, vanity mirrors and a rear defroster. Missing from the list are power windows, power door locks, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver's seat, or even a remote trunk release. For those kind of features, you'll have to step up to the more expensive SV trim.
As with other Nissans, most of the extras come by climbing trims. The SR gains sportier front and rear-end treatments, dark headlight surrounds, fog lights, a rear spoiler, faux-suede seat inserts and 16-inch alloy wheels. The SV Tech package includes the NissanConnect system that integrates mobile apps such as those for Facebook and Pandora, push-button ignition, and a premium audio system with 5.8-inch navigation display, rearview monitor and Bluetooth audio streaming. The SV Appearance package adds 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights and chrome trim. The SL includes the Tech and Appearance package as standard.
Nissan Versa 5-door Note hatchback is equipped with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. With only 109 horsepower, it’s not particularly powerful, but does get an EPA rating of 40 mpg on the highway when connected to a CVT transmission. The only other transmission choice is the S trim’s standard 5-speed manual.
109 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
107 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/36 mpg (5-speed manual), 31/40 mpg (CVT automatic)
The Nissan Versa Note has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $15,005 for the base S. The S Plus brings the CVT automatic transmission and a price tag around $16,255. Moving up trims and adding features can push a Versa's price to around $20,000 in top form. A Kia Rio, by comparison, has a more powerful engine and a longer warranty, and starts around $15,000, the neighborhood where base models of the Honda Fit, Chevy Sonic, Hyundai Accent and Ford Fiesta reside. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their Versa Note. Strong resale value is another characteristic of the Versa Note, where it's a best-in-class leader.