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2014 Nissan Versa Note Willing Personality>

Nissan’s 2014 Versa Note is the hatchback version of the Versa sedan and, to my mind a better-looking piece of equipment. We used the upmarket Versa Note SV as a conveyance to and from the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA and found it an economical, peppy little hatch that certainly doesn’t feel like the entry-level car it is.

There are so many other vehicles in this segment, including the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio – it’s a tough group in which to fight for owners but this newly restyled Nissan has a good chance. The front end of this car carries swoopy lighting cues from the 370Z and Maxima and makes the Versa Note look more expensive than it is. At the rear there is a good-size hatch opening and easy-to-see, upswept rear lights.
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While the running gear might not sound terribly exciting with a 1.6-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine making 109 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at 4400 (redline’s at 6500 rpm), the Versa Note does get out of its own way. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) isn’t one of my favorites as it saps power in the name of economy, but Nissan’s one company that’s been using CVT in many of its vehicles for a number of years and isn’t about to change.
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The Nissan Versa Note SV, which is the top of the line, has independent strut front suspension and torsion beam rear axle; both come with integrated stabilizer bars. Nissan uses speed-sensitive electric power steering and like most of its ilk, it’s a bit vague and the turning circle on this front-wheel-drive hatch is quite large. Brakes are quite good in panic situations and, as required by law these days, have antilock features at all four corners.
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This particular Versa Note SV had only a few upgrades. With an entry price of $16,800 including freight, Nissan included the SV convenience package of AM/FM/CD/USB/Aux audio system with a nice and easily seen 4.3-in color screen. It also has iPod control, Sirius/XM satellite, rearview monitor, rear seat armrest with cupholders and Nissan’s Divide-n-Hide adjustable hatch floor. Carpeted floor mats and cargo mat, together with the always-welcome hatch cargo cover completed the options for a grand total of $17,605 that seems normal for cars in this class with those amenities.
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Our Red Brick Versa Note SV has standard P185/65HR 15-inch all-season low rolling resistance tires mounted on steel wheels with covers that intend to aid fuel mileage. Mileage clocks in at 31/40/35 and we were getting close to the 40-mpg mark in our commutes from Long Beach to Fontana each day from the petite 10.8-gallon tank. The hatch’s low, 2482-pound weight certainly helps with the mileage, as do the active grille shutters at the front of the car.

Rear seat passengers have plenty of space and an extra two cupholders in the central tunnel. There’s a 60/40 fold to the back seat. Cargo capacity is 18.8 cubic feet with rear seats up and 38.3 cubes with them folded for good hauling capability. At the front, seats are comfortable but not exceptionally supportive although the driver does have lumbar support and a nice armrest. Nissan’s sun visors are always large and have extensions, something that’s great in fading light.
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There’s a leather-covered steering wheel and Bluetooth capability but I never did try to pair my phone. Climate controls are on wheels with a lever to go from fresh to recirculated air and there’s a good cruise control system (on the right side of the steering wheel with audio on the left). A fine trip computer lies between the speedometer and tachometer and this car does have a temperature gauge. Fit and finish is quite good but there’s plenty of hard plastic about the cabin. There aren’t automatic lights but with the SV model the buyer does get keyless entry, single pass for the wipers and a light dip for signaling.
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As an entry-level conveyance, there’s much to recommend with the 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV. It’s a competent little hatch with a willing personality, good looks and capable running gear. Nissan products have always stood the test of time and I’ve got no doubt this little hatch will do the same. I truly enjoyed it.

Words and photos by Anne Proffit