By Aaron Bragman on January 15, 2013
Nissan redesigned the Versa as a budget-conscious sedan for 2012. Journalists seemed to despise it, but buyers snapped it up. The next step for the company is the new Nissan Versa Note, replacing the Versa hatchback. A more premium entry than the basic Versa sedan, the Versa Note is aimed at younger buyers and features a host of connectivity functions as standard equipment. The Versa Note also has more dramatic styling aimed to appeal to a flashier audience.
Underneath the skin, this is still a Versa, however.The Note has a fuel-efficient but lackluster 1.6-liter four-cylinder making a rather disappointing 109 horsepower. This may help the Versa Note achieve its 33/40 mpg city/highway (35 mpg combined) fuel-economy rating, but it doesn't compare to competitors like the 138-hp Chevrolet Sonic, which is rated at the same fuel economy but uses turbocharging and direct-injection technology for more zoom. The engine is matched with either a five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission powering the front wheels.
Content and value are what the Versa Note is about, not speed. Inside, Nissan has included Bluetooth streaming audio and a 5.8-inch color touch-screen display. It also has a laundry list of available features: NissanConnect with navigation system, Pandora streaming audio capability, satellite radio, push-button start, hands-free phone system with text messaging assistant, a backup camera and Nissan's Around View Monitor, which uses cameras placed around the car to generate a live overhead view of its surroundings on-screen. The Versa Note will also feature the largest cargo capacity of any subcompact, according to the company, and it'll have an adjustable cargo shelf.
Four trim levels will be offered: S, S Plus, SV and the top-of-the-line SL. Starting price for the Versa Note will be $13,990 plus a destination charge (not released yet), or $2,000 more than the Versa sedan's starting price.
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron