2015 Nissan Versa Note Review
Pros & Cons
- Roomy interior with an adult-friendly backseat
- low base price
- many available convenience features
- large cargo capacity
- high fuel economy with CVT.
- Bland performance and handling
- noisy engine
- no telescoping steering wheel
- low-quality interior materials.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2015 Nissan Versa Note trails rivals in refinement and performance. But it could be worth a look for shoppers who prioritize low price, roominess and strong fuel economy.
For the budget-conscious shopper with practical concerns, there's the 2015 Nissan Versa Note. While certain rivals outshine it in handling and refinement, the Versa Note is a good choice for those seeking an extremely affordable hatchback that delivers in areas like comfort and versatility.
As the hatchback version of the Versa sedan, the Nissan Versa Note boasts attributes that make it inexpensive to own and easy to live with. Fuel economy is excellent and the car's interior is spacious, with a roomy backseat and ample cargo capacity. An adjustable cargo floor that can be raised or lowered as needed -- with a hidden storage area underneath to stash valuables -- adds useful versatility. Feature content is impressive. Even base models get Bluetooth connectivity, and available features include high-end extras like heated front seats, a 360-degree parking camera system and keyless ignition.
While the Versa Note transcends its budget-car status in some areas, in others, the hatchback remains quite basic. With humdrum cabin design and a litany of hard plastics, it trails competing models in interior refinement. And while its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) facilitate strong fuel economy, the car has a difficult time building speed on the highway. Other models are more fun to drive.
One of those is the 2015 Ford Fiesta, which provides responsive handling and steering in addition to a higher level of overall quality that will likely lead to a more satisfying ownership experience. For crisper acceleration, there's the Chevrolet Sonic and Hyundai Accent. Both these models manage a quicker 0-60-mph sprint than the Versa, while delivering good mileage. The redesigned Honda Fit is considerably quicker, too, and it can't be beat for roominess and cargo-carrying versatility.
Pricing is very important, certainly, and that's part of the Note's appeal. But it's worth calling out that equipping the Note to match base-model feature content of rivals like the Fit largely undercuts its cost advantage. We've given the Versa Note an overall "C" rating. You'll certainly want to run the numbers before making a decision.
2015 Nissan Versa Note models
The 2015 Nissan Versa Note is a five-passenger hatchback offered in five trims: S, S Plus, SV, SR and SL. A four-door sedan version of the Versa also is available and is covered in a separate model review.
Standard features for the base S trim include 15-inch steel wheels, power mirrors, air-conditioning, a trip computer, a tilt-only steering wheel, a four-way manually adjustable driver seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary input jack. It's worth noting that the 2015 Versa S trim is available only with a five-speed manual transmission. Stepping up to the S Plus trim adds active grille shutters for increased fuel economy, as well as a CVT.
The SV trim tacks on keyless remote entry, power locks and windows, upgraded and expanded use of cloth upholstery, a six-way-adjustable driver seat, a driver-side center armrest, vanity mirrors, a black center cluster surround, cruise control, illuminated entry and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.
The sporty-looking SR trim adds 16-inch alloys, foglights, unique front and rear fascias, a unique grille, a dark headlight treatment, body-color side sill spoilers, a rear spoiler, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, a sport steering wheel, suede upholstery, sport front seats and a rear-seat center armrest with cupholders.
A Convenience package is available for the SV and SR. It adds a 5-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface. Bluetooth audio connectivity, smartphone app integration (NissanConnect with Mobile Apps), a rear cargo area divider and a rear seat center armrest (SV only).
The range-topping SL gets you the contents of the Convenience package as standard along with 16-inch alloys, foglights, keyless ignition and entry and heated front seats. A Tech package for the SL adds a 5.8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, voice controls for audio and navigation, heated side mirrors and a 360-degree parking camera system.
Performance & mpg
Powering the 2015 Nissan Versa Note is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. Base S models only come with a five-speed manual, while higher trims receive a CVT. Both drive the front wheels.
The EPA estimates fuel economy for the manual-shift Versa Note at 30 mpg combined (27 city/36 highway). The CVT version is said to be capable of an impressive 35 mpg combined (31/40), yet we only achieved 32 mpg in 300 miles of mixed driving.
In Edmunds performance testing, the Versa Note with the CVT went from zero to 60 in 10.4 seconds, which is average for this class of car.
Standard safety features for all 2015 Nissan Versa Note models include antilock brakes (front discs and rear drums), front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and traction and stability control. A rearview camera is standard on the SL and optional on the SV and SR.
Government crash tests resulted in an overall rating of four of a possible five stars, with three stars for frontal crash, five for side, and four for risk of rollover.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Note came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, which is an average distance for a car in this class.
Expectations should be kept in check when it comes to the 2015 Nissan Versa Note's performance. Acceleration is tepid at best, as the small engine proves merely adequate. Similarly, the electric-assist steering is dutiful about its job of directing where the car goes, but it lacks any sort of enthusiastic feel or response.
The CVT is smooth and unobtrusive around town, but it can have the engine revving noisily if you abruptly press down on the gas pedal (in a highway passing situation, for instance) as it searches for its ideal ratio. This is a common complaint with CVTs that are paired with small four-cylinder engines, and most owners get used to this trait over time. On a positive note, when you finally reach highway speeds on flat pavement, the revs drop dramatically for quiet and fuel-efficient cruising. Wind, tire and engine noise are noticeably evident most of the time, and will prove excessive for some.
In general, the 2015 Nissan Versa Note has a compact-car ride. Most small road imperfections are absorbed by the tires and suspension, but larger bumps and ruts have a tendency to upset the car's equilibrium and cause it to lurch dramatically. These reactions can be unsettling to passengers, but the car remains in control. For the most part, the Note is obedient but doesn't go beyond feeling like a basic commuter car.
The first thing that strikes you about the 2015 Nissan Versa Note's passenger cabin is the roominess. Nowhere is this more evident than in the backseat, where even two tall adults can comfortably sit, benefiting from ample head- and legroom. Up front, taller drivers might find it hard to achieve a comfortable position, however, due to the lack of a telescoping steering wheel and lumpy-feeling front seats.
Cargo space is respectable, with 18.8 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats. The available adjustable cargo area floor allows for thin objects (laptop bags and boxes) to be stored under the floor and out of view, while larger objects can be stored on top. The divider also can be dropped or removed completely for maximum space. With the rear seats lowered, the Note can hold 38.3 cubic feet of cargo. That's more than a Sonic, but significantly less than what a Fit offers.
Despite its relatively striking exterior styling, the Versa Note's interior is about as bland and budget-based as you'll find. Hard plastics abound and the design is bare-bones basic. That said, the availability of premium convenience features such as keyless ignition and entry and a 360-degree parking camera system is a nice touch for this class of car.