2016 Nissan Versa Note Review
Pros & Cons
- Roomy interior with an adult-friendly backseat
- low base price
- 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 2016 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.
If you're shopping for a practical subcompact hatchback on a tight budget, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note is one to look at. Perhaps best known for its affordable pricing, the Versa Note also boasts high fuel economy and a roomy interior with an exceptionally spacious backseat. Starting with the midlevel SV trim this year, Nissan includes a standard touchscreen infotainment system and even a nifty adjustable cargo floor that can be raised or lowered to accommodate various items. Indeed, despite that low cost of entry, this Nissan's got a lot going on.
Because it's a hatchback, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note is more versatile than the regular Versa sedan.
On the other hand, the Versa Note's interior styling is rather bland and features large swaths of hard plastics that cheapen the overall effect, especially when compared to most rivals. And while the car's 1.6-liter engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) earned an impressive 40 mpg highway rating from the EPA, this tandem's performance is distinctly underwhelming when you're trying to get up to speed in a hurry. Furthermore, although the Versa's suspension delivers decent ride comfort, handling is rather indifferent. From a driving standpoint, other competitors in this segment are simply more rewarding in many respects.
Topping that list is the recently redesigned 2016 Honda Fit, which is pretty fun to drive and is unmatched for its cargo room versatility. Then there's the 2016 Ford Fiesta, which bring European-style sophistication to the table, albeit with very modest backseat and cargo dimensions. The 2016 Chevrolet Sonic and 2016 Hyundai Accent both offer sprightlier acceleration while still achieving wholly respectable fuel economy numbers. Overall, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note remains an affordable subcompact with a strong practical streak, but it struggles to stand out in this competitive field.
2016 Nissan Versa Note models
The 2016 Nissan Versa Note is a five-passenger, four-door hatchback offered in five trim levels: 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, chrome grille accents, power mirrors, manual windows and locks, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-only steering wheel with auxiliary controls, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack.
It's worth noting that the 2016 Versa S trim is available only with a five-speed manual transmission. Stepping up to the S Plus trim gets you active grille shutters and a CVT for increased fuel economy.
The SV trim adds remote keyless entry, illuminated entry, upgraded cloth upholstery and interior trim, a height-adjustable driver seat with an armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows and door locks, cruise control, vanity mirrors, the Divide-n-Hide adjustable cargo floor, a rearview camera and the Nissan Connect infotainment system with a 5.0-inch color touchscreen, satellite radio preparation, Bluetooth streaming audio, a USB port with iPod control, hands-free text messaging and mobile-app integration.
Alloy wheels come standard on the SR and SL trim levels.
The sport-themed SR trim gets 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, unique front and rear fascias, a sport body kit with a rear spoiler, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, synthetic suede upholstery with orange accents, a rear-seat center armrest with cupholders and a sport steering wheel.
The top-of-the-line SL keeps the 16-inch alloys and foglights, and it adds heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, a surround-view parking camera system and a larger 5.8-inch NissanConnect touchscreen with navigation (including voice controls).
A Tech package for the SR adds the larger touchscreen with the navigation system. The SV is eligible for a few additional add-ons, including an Appearance package (15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, variable intermittent wipers), a Sport Value package (15-inch alloys plus a rear spoiler) and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Performance & mpg
Powering the front-wheel-drive 2016 Nissan Versa Note is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. The entry-level S model is only available with a five-speed manual transmission, while higher trims receive a CVT.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the manual-shift Versa Note are 30 mpg combined (27 city/36 highway). The CVT version is rated at an impressive 35 mpg combined (31/40), but on the diverse 120-mile Edmunds real-world evaluation loop, we only achieved 32 mpg. Typically, we expect to see at least the combined number.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Versa Note with the CVT went from zero to 60 in 10.4 seconds, trailing the class-leading Honda Fit by a sobering 1.6 seconds.
Standard safety features for all 2016 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 SV, SR and SL.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Note came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, which is about 3 feet longer than average for a car in this class.
On the road, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note drives like the affordable subcompact it is. The little 1.6-liter engine produces acceleration that's adequate at best. Coupled to the CVT, it's smooth in everyday driving but can rev noisily under hard acceleration.
While not a complete snooze to drive, the 2016 Versa Note is less engaging from behind the wheel than the rival Honda Fit, for example.
Things settle down once you're up to speed, but wind and tire noise are constant companions. The Versa Note's comfort-tuned suspension offers a generally supple ride, though big bumps get transmitted directly to the cabin with little absorption. Handling is secure but far from inspiring, and the vague steering provides little feedback.
Compared to its rather expressive exterior, the cabin of the 2016 Nissan Versa Note is a bit of a letdown because of ho-hum dashboard styling and an abundance of hard plastics. Moreover, the tilt-only steering wheel and the lack of a height-adjustable driver seat on S and S Plus trim levels makes it difficult to find a comfortable driving position.
The Versa Note's interior design is rather forgettable, but the backseat is exceptionally spacious.
While the standard touchscreen functionality from the SV trim on up is a definite plus, this interior's real strong suit is its spaciousness. In particular, the backseat provides enough head- and legroom for 6-footers, putting many subcompact hatchbacks to shame. Cargo space is less impressive, measuring 18.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 38.3 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded down. However, the available "Divide-n-Hide" adjustable cargo area floor is a cool enhancement on SV, SR and SL models, allowing for thinner objects (think purses and briefcases) to be stored out of sight while still providing room for larger objects up top.