2014 Nissan Versa Note Review: Cute Subcompact Gets Full Body Make Over, Now More Docile and Cheaper to Feed

By Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor
Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor
Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor
August 26, 2013 Updated: August 26, 2013

On sale since June, the 2014 Versa Note is in tune with the times. And this is where the musical puns must stop. 

Versa now insists you include her middle name “Note.” It’s her Japanese name, and globalizing your moniker is just, like, so cool.

200-pound Note?

Just as cute as the outgoing model, but slightly more practical in every way, she’s even less expensive to own than last year. Yep, the base S model price went down nearly $400 from the previous-gen 1.8 S Hatchback. 

That will leave you plenty left over to buy Pink ChuChu girl seat covers and bedazzle your Kleenex box. 

She was never fat by any means but our girl has gone on a diet anyway, dropping 200 pounds since last year. 

She’s had a few nips and tucks as well, losing around 5 inches in length, but somehow her surgeons have managed to increase the interior space for passengers.

Her new curves have also reduced drag. Aerodynamic improvement to her unmentionables (her undercarriage, shhhh!) as well as fancy new tires have improved efficiency. 

Indeed, all of this has greatly reduced her appetite for fuel. The manufacturer claims 31/40 mpg city/hwy for the CVT option and 27/36 for the 5-speed manual, improving over the 26/31 rating of the outgoing model with 6-speed manual.

After some brushing up in deportment class, you’ll notice a quieter ride due to double sealed doors and a sound resistant windshield. To further her newfound discretion, you’ll find a false bottom in boot that allows you to keep your laptop or purse out of sight behind the expected rear 60/40-split seating.

A pretty face and an affordable date are not enough. She’s working on her technological vocabulary too. Improved mobile device connectivity, including Google sent-to-car for the Navigation system, and either rear view or around view monitor are in her updated 2014 résumé. 

The SV model can add a Convenient Package, an SL Package and an SL Tech Package.

The $540 Convenience Package adds an upgraded audio system with 4.3″ color display, RearView Monitor, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Divide-N-Hide, USB for iPod, and rear-seat fold-down center armrest with cup holders.

The SL Package includes everything in the Convenience Package, plus 16″ aluminum-alloy wheels and tires, fog lights, Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, variable intermittent wipers, and heated front seats for $1,700 extra.

For $800 more the Tech Package adds Nissan Connect with Navigation System and cual power heated outside mirrors. The added navigation system includes a 5.8″ color screen, Google Points-of-Interest, Google Send-to-Car, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, and Around View Monitor.

Which leads us to the downside of dieting. The results of her makeover are mostly good, though they’ve left her a tad anemic. 

Along with the weight loss, she also lost 20 horses when her engine capacity was reduced from 1.8L to 1.6L. The 2013 model had 122 hp @5,200 rpm. In 2014 she’s got 109 @6000 rpm. That’s a lot of revving to access very few horses.

In short, she’s thinner, but a tad lethargic. If you’re not poking along in city traffic, you’ll want to buy her a half-dozen chocolate donuts—she needs a little sugar. 

Having driven both the manual and the CVT, I’d say either option is adequate. The CVT is still a little noisy and grasping. The manual option has dropped a gear, down to a 5-speed from last year—it’s a diet thing. Either way, you’re getting from A to B without fuss.

In all fairness, you can’t have it all. She’s good looking and low maintenance, but you’re going to have to rely on yourself for fun. Okay, she’ll take you to fun. The amount you have on the way will be moderate.

$13,990 – $18,490 USD (MSRP)

Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor
Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor