On all aspects of cabin space, flexibility, functionality, and storage, the Versa Note seems to have hit the mark.
The name is a little strange, but the new-for-2014 Nissan Versa Note hit Canadian roads in 2013 with a premise that’s anything but unusual. This cheerful little compact had modern small-car shoppers square in its sights, and arrived designed to deliver precisely what Canadian shoppers in the compact car segment demand.
Keenly focussed on affordability, efficiency, and tremendous flexibility, few machines stacked up to deliver such outstanding value where efficient access to plenty of space from a small car was a priority.
All models get interior volume exceeding 3,100 litres, along with over 530 litres of cargo room. An adjustable cargo load floor can create a flat loading surface with a hidden compartment beneath, or a deep storage well, depending on the need. Folding seats operate with ease to further fine-tune the Versa Note’s cargo and passenger-carrying capabilities.
Headroom and legroom in both seating rows is top-notch, even for tall or leggy occupants. Finally, a low step-in height and big door openings makes this one easy to live with, even for mobility-challenged drivers.
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Feature content included an around-view parking monitor, Bluetooth, navigation, heated seats, remote access, power accessories, cruise control, and more. Also available was the NissanConnect all-in-one central command interface, which put cutting-edge functionalities relating to entertainment, navigation, information, and communication right at the driver’s fingertips.
A high-efficiency 1.6L four-cylinder engine used special valvetrain and fuel delivery tech to maximize efficiency and on-demand power delivery. Look for thrifty performance and 109 horsepower. Transmission choices included a five-speed manual or the XTronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), which was designed to behave like a conventional automatic.
Trim grades included the entry-level Versa S, the high-value SV, the sporty SR, and the top-of-the-line SL. Updates over the life of this vehicle largely centered around cosmetic tweaks, including a major facelift for model year 2017.
What Owners Like
On all aspects of cabin space, flexibility, functionality, and storage, the Versa Note seems to have hit the mark. Good real-world ride quality on rougher roads is also noted, as is strong all-around feature content value. By most accounts, Versa Note is a perfect small car: bigger than it looks, great on fuel, comfortable, spacious, and easy to use on the daily.
What Owners Dislike
Common gripes include a low-budget feel to some of the interior trimmings, a back-up camera angle that may prove too narrow in some situations, and the lack of a covered centre console storage bin. Some owners also wish for a quieter ride at higher speeds.
If you’ll opt for a Versa Note with the CVT automatic transmission, be sure to check the service and maintenance intervals set out in the owner’s manual (using the severe service interval) for fluid changes, against the current odometer reading in the car. Then, seek service records that prove that the transmission servicing is up to date, and that all servicing to the transmission has been carried out by a Nissan dealer. Servicing the CVT transmission in the Versa at the dealer ensures that the transmission is serviced properly, using the proper fluids. Failure to properly drain and fill the transmission, or refilling the transmission with improper fluid, can cause damage that won’t be covered by warranty.
Test Drive Tips
As with virtually all vehicles, the Versa Note has some owner-reported problems relating to its transmission. In some cases, failure to properly maintain or service the transmission has led to problems, though other owners have reported the need to have the transmission replaced under warranty. Noting that the majority of Versa Note owners have not had transmission problems, we’d recommend proceeding with reasonable caution, and protecting yourself by confirming that all servicing is up to date, opting for the manual transmission if possible, and by asking your Nissan service department to ensure that all available software updates have been applied to the transmission.
Some owners have complained of poorly performing air conditioners which, in some cases, fail to properly cool the cabin unless the car is moving, or unless the engine is revving at a higher-than-idle level. Numerous causes are possible, including a refrigerant leak in the system, or a low refrigerant charge. Note that failure to replace vehicle’s cabin air filter, as well as failure to keep the A/C condenser free of air-flow blocking debris, are other leading causes of A/C performance problems. Both are easy to address. If you note any issues with the performance of the air conditioner, start by confirming that the condenser and cabin air filter are not blocked or plugged. Beyond that, a technician should investigate. Here’s some more reading.
On the other side of the climate control system, some owners have reported insufficient heat from the Versa Note on extremely cold days. In some cases, the problem is a faulty thermostat, which is easy to address. Note that a clogged cabin air filter can also cause poor performance from the vehicle’s heater and defroster, too.
Whether or not a Check Engine light is illuminated, have the Versa Note you’re considering scanned by a technician to reveal any stored trouble