2014 Nissan Versa Note Introduction
The Nissan Versa Note isn't a bad looking hatch. It's less wedgy than some, but isn't boxy, either. Designers say its shape is based on a squash line, referring to the path a squash ball takes when a player hits it against the wall and it ricochets back. Overhangs have been reduced by six inches compared to the outgoing hatch to give the Note a tauter look, which also helps with improve handling.
Like any car designed to maximize fuel economy, aerodynamics play a key role in the Versa Note's styling. The front end is still pointed, but with softer curves rather than sharp angles. A steeply raked windshield rises up to a tall roof that arcs slightly. A V-shaped groove on the roof helps to channel air more efficiently over the top of the car. Tail lights have small vents on the corners to also help channel air.
From the side, the Versa Note has deep, arcing character lines that add personality and further help with aero. Large headlamps and tail lamps wrap around to the quarter panels. The rear keeps a bit of its boxy shape from before, but corners are softer and more rounded. The rear window opening is relatively small and sits high up, which is presumably safer in a rear-end collision, but affects rearward visibility.
On every model except the base, the Versa Note uses an active grille shutter, which automatically closes at highway speeds to channel air around the car, or can open to more effectively cool the engine.
It's all about convenience with the 2014 Nissan Versa Note. The interior design is simple, perfunctory and well laid-out. The cabin is filled with lots of hard plastic, but designers did a decent job with different finishes and textures to give variety without looking cheap.
Controls are easy to use and well placed. On the center stack, three large, conventional knobs operate the climate control system. Above, base S models have a basic digital display for radio stations. SV models with the Convenience package and SL trims get a larger, 4.3-inch display that shows artist and song titles as well as station information. Top-of-the-line SL models with the Tech package get a touch screen with navigation. While nothing is fancy, everything is readily visible and within easy reach.
Front seats have a very upright seating position, and are comfortable enough for short and medium-length trips. But we're not sure they'd offer enough support for very long hauls. Fabric upholstery is basic and attractive, and side arm rests are easily within reach. Headroom is more than ample up front, and at 40.8 inches, bests other hatches of its size. Front legroom is plentiful too, although it comes up slightly short against most competitors. This is, presumably, because Nissan designers placed the front seat track farther forward to make more room in the rear.
Storage space up front is minimal; the center console has a tiny pocket next to the emergency brake level that's only large enough for a mobile phone. The rear of the center console has an area with two cupholders on base models and a large deep pocket on upper trims, but it's hard to reach from the front seats, making it better suited for back seat passengers. On the plus side, the dual-glove box design adds extra room in front of the passenger, and door pockets are wide enough for a coffee mug or larger water bottle.
In the rear, headroom is about on par with others at 38.0 inches, though the Honda Fit offers about an inch more. Rear legroom in the Versa Note can't be beat, however, measuring an impressive 38.3 inches, substantially more than the Ford Fiesta's 31.2 inches and the Honda Fit's 34.5 inches. There's also plenty of tow room under the front seats, so even a six-foot-tall passenger shouldn't feel cramped.
Unlike some cars that have a raised area in the middle of the backseat, the middle seat in the Versa Note is relatively flush, but the center console inhibits legroom and the seat width is relatively narrow. For this reason, we'd save the middle seat for children or smaller adults. On SV models with the Convenience Package and LS trims, a folding center armrest with cupholders comes standard. One small omission we noticed was that the rear handles in the back seat do not have hanger hooks.
The Versa Note boasts an enormous trunk, with 21.4 cubic feet of space with the rear seats in place. With the rear seats down, space opens up to a cavernous 38.3 cubes. Rear seats are easy to put up and down, and release with a lever located on the top of the seatback.
One of the shortcomings of the outgoing Versa hatch was is that it did not have a perfectly flat load floor. While this is still true for the base S and SV models, the SV Convenience Package and the SL trim add a new folding cargo floor, which can be raised via a sliding track. This makes the cargo floor flush with the folded rear seats, and also creates a hidden storage compartment beneath that's about four inches tall. The system is easy to use and takes only a few seconds.