2018 Nissan Versa Note

2018 Nissan Versa Note Hatchback Review

The Nissan Versa Note falls short of most other subcompact hatchbacks.
3 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Peter Gareffa
Edmunds Editor

The 2018 Versa Note might be considered a suitable hatchback for young drivers or shoppers on a tight budget. But among its competitors in the humble subcompact class, the Versa Note will come up short for most buyers.

The Versa Note is sluggish compared to most competing models, not particularly fun to drive and lacking in creature comforts. It does offer comparatively generous rear passenger space and a cleverly designed cargo system, but these assets are not enough to earn it a strong recommendation. We suggest checking out the alternatives before settling on the Versa Note.



what's new

For 2018, the trim levels on the Versa Note have been reconfigured. The former S Plus trim is now the base S model, and the former SL trim has been dropped. The top-of-the-line SR grade now includes standard remote keyless ignition and entry, a vehicle immobilizer system and Nissan's Easy-Fill Tire Alert system. The midlevel SV can now be ordered with these same features as part of the SV Special Edition package.

we recommend

The plain Jane interior and hand-crank windows make the base S model a poor choice, even at a bargain-basement price. We recommend taking one step up to the SV trim level for its useful added features and more nicely outfitted cabin.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Nissan Versa Note hatchback seats five and is offered in three trim levels: S, SV and SR. It's powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (109 horsepower, 107 pound-feet of torque), routed through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) on the way to the front wheels.

Standard feature highlights for the base S trim include 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, power mirrors, a tilt-only steering wheel, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone integration, and a four-speaker CD player with auxiliary audio input.

The SV trim adds remote keyless entry, cruise control, power windows and locks, upgraded gauges, additional interior trim, upgraded cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat with an armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an adjustable cargo floor, a 5-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth streaming audio, USB-iPod audio input, satellite radio and a hands-free text messaging assistant.

The top-of-the-range SR trim adds such features as sporty exterior treatments, 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, a rear spoiler, remote keyless ignition and entry, a vehicle immobilizer system, Nissan's Easy-Fill Tire Alert system (beeps when the correct pressure has been reached), a sport steering wheel, simulated suede upholstery and a center rear armrest.

Some features are available as options on lower trim levels.

trim tested

The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the  2014 Nissan Versa Note SV Hatchback (1.6L inline-4 | CVT automatic | FWD)

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Nissan Versa Note has received some revisions. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's 2018 Versa Note, however.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.0 / 5.0

Driving

2.5 / 5.0

Acceleration2.5 / 5.0
Braking2.5 / 5.0
Steering1.0 / 5.0
Handling2.5 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

2.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort2.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort2.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration2.5 / 5.0

Interior

3.0 / 5.0

Ease of use2.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Driving position3.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality3.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage2.5 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
With a meager 109-horsepower four-cylinder engine, nontraditional continuously variable transmission automatic transmission (CVT) and uninspiring handling, the Versa Note offers little in terms of performance. This is strictly a point A to point B car with minimal entertainment in between.

acceleration

edmunds rating
It took us a very long 10.4 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is slow even for an economy hatchback. The Versa Note's CVT causes the engine to drone loudly when accelerating, making it feel even weaker.

braking

edmunds rating
The pedal is uncharacteristically firm and quick to respond for this class. Still, in Edmunds testing the Versa Note required 125 feet to stop from 60 mph, slightly longer than average.

steering

edmunds rating
Perhaps the worst part of this car, the Versa's fuel-saving electric power-assisted steering offers artificial, springy feedback and lackluster response. The result is a vague feeling through the wheel that doesn't inspire confidence.

handling

edmunds rating
Despite the lack of feedback through the steering wheel, the Versa Note handles reasonably well around corners and over big bumps in the pavement. That said, it's rarely fun, just competent.

drivability

edmunds rating
In spite of its tepid performance, the Versa Note is an adequate day-to-day driver. Its small size makes it a good grocery-getter and an easy parker. The high-winding CVT can be annoying, though.

comfort

edmunds rating
The Versa Note is plagued by below-average seat comfort, a jittery ride and plenty of wind, road and engine noise. These are low scores even for the economy hatchback class.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
A rare instance in which the rear seats offer more room and comfort than the front seats. The lumpy front buckets offer decent adjustment but little lateral support.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
Ride comfort is typical for a small car, which means it feels busy over bumps and is negatively affected by crosswinds. Other choices in the segment do a better job.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Wind, tire and engine noise is evident most of the time and will prove excessive for some. Under acceleration, the engine emits a loud cowlike groan until you lift off the pedal.

interior

edmunds rating
A few clever and unexpected measures offset the usual subcompact interior qualities and drawbacks. The Versa Note SV's materials are notably better than those on the lower trim level, but they're not much better than average for the segment.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Taller drivers will find the cabin controls a bit hard to reach. The driving position, armrests and placement of window switches all feel out of place.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
Entry and exit are easy from any seat. As a bonus, the rear doors open almost to 90 degrees for unusually good access when space allows for it.

driving position

edmunds rating
The lack of a telescoping steering column means that slightly taller than average drivers will either have to sit uncomfortably close or have an awkward reach to the steering wheel.

roominess

edmunds rating
The rear seat room is excellent, particularly when it comes to legroom. The cabin feels open and airy for such a small car.

visibility

edmunds rating
We found the sight lines above average for a hatchback, with no blind spots. The optional rearview camera system is somewhat unnecessary unless the vehicle is loaded to the ceiling with cargo.

quality

edmunds rating
The overall build quality of the Versa Note may meet some lower expectations, but among rivals it's noticeably downmarket. Even higher-trimmed Versa Notes will remind you that you're in an economy car.

utility

edmunds rating
Cargo space is about average for the class behind the rear seats but small when it comes to maximum capacity. The rear seats do fold flat, and the multi-adjustable cargo floor could prove useful in some cases.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
Storage for your personal items is limited to a few small door pockets and cupholders. Rivals offer larger and more intelligent solutions.

cargo space

edmunds rating
The Versa Note's 18.8-cubic-foot cargo space behind the rear seats and maximum 38.3-cubic-foot capacity aren't impressive, but Nissan's Divide-N-Hide cargo floor allows you to store flat items (purses, laptops, briefcases) out of sight while providing a larger space on top.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.