Written by: Robert Nichols
Photography by: Robert Nichols
“Would you like me to get out and push?” That was my brother offering assistance as we were trying to merge onto the QEW. In part I think he was enjoying a little good natured teasing, but I also sensed a tone of fear in his voice as a transport truck steadily drew closer. The car we were in had so little power that at idle, if I held two of the power window buttons in the raise position the engine rpm would dip. Not good!
The car in question was the 2016 Nissan Versa Note SL. It is powered, and I use that word lightly, by a 1.6L 16 valve 4-cylinder engine. Which in and of itself doesn’t sound that bad. After all in 1998, Nissan made the Pulsar VZR N1 which was also powered by a naturally aspirated 1.6L and it made 197 hp. However, this 1.6L does not; for some reason it was decided that the Versa Note should produce 109 of the smallest horses out there. This engine is so underwhelming I actually welcomed the CVT, because the CVT could make the most of the power. Of course this meant a constant drone under acceleration accompanied by an unpleasant racket from the engine.
Mercifully once you are up to highway speeds things quiet down, the rpms drop and the little car plods along happily. As far as fuel economy goes I averaged 6.8 L/100 km of foot to the floor driving, which is exactly what the EPA testing claimed.
On the road the Versa Note will not elicit any excitement. Rather it will roll and bounce about as the soft suspension and short wheelbase strive desperately to keep the vehicle upright at the slightest hint of hooliganism. Once you accept that this is car is not trying to compete with Fiesta ST and drive it in a sensible fashion, it will still roll and bob about.
In the city the car fares much better. The turning radius is minuscule; the steering effort is virtually non-existent at low speed and the Versa Note is actually one of the nicer looking sub-$20,000 cars. As you never really need to accelerate too hard in the city, the engine noise rarely ever becomes too irritating and the lack of get up and go is not an issue.
The hatchback offers great utility and the handy split level cargo area (found in all but the S model) and folding rear seats create a flat load area that will accommodate most everyday items. The cargo area floor has the ability to be set at one of two heights or removed to accommodate taller items. What was unexpected was the passenger space available. I was able to fit four grown adults all above the 6-foot mark in with no problems. A few jokes but no legitimate complaints as all were impressed by the ample headroom. I will state that the nearly 800 pounds of passengers did affect the performance noticeably.
There is an open and spacious feeling inside the cabin. In my opinion this is largely due to the high roof and very low center console up front. The look is uncluttered, simple, and clean. It helps that the Versa Note offers 3196L of total cabin space of which 532L is found behind the rear seat. The simple control layout makes this car a breeze to drive and there isn’t any learning curve required. Just get in and go.
For any car to carry a starting MSRP below $20,000 you must accept that the accountants have been involved in one way or another. Be that as it may, every Versa Note is available in four flavours: S, SV, SR and SL. The S and SV have the option of a CVT but come with a 5-speed manual. All models use the same engine and all feature front discs with accountant-approved rear drum brakes. A Bluetooth hands free phone is standard as are heated side mirrors, extendable sun-visors and two front/rear cup holders.
Starting with the SV model however, things begin to look a bit more modern. Here you gain hands-free text messaging, cruise control, power windows and door locks, a 5-inch display with rear view camera, satellite radio, mobile apps and optional fog lights.
The sporty looking SR adds 16” alloys, a sport style steering wheel, a unique front and rear fascia, and suede-like seats. The top of the line SL upgrades to a 5.8” touchscreen with mobile apps and Navigation, keyless ignition, around view monitor, and a USB port. The SL also carries a cost of $21,648 after freight and PDI.
At this end of the automotive market, consumers must choose what they can live without and what is strictly necessary. For example, the Honda Fit has more power but for the same price as the fully loaded Versa Note, the Honda does not offer Navigation. The Nissan offers you this tech at the cost of power.
So it is left to the consumer to search and find the manufacturer who has put together the vehicle with the package that best suits their needs. If you need passenger space and navigation, then the Nissan Versa Note may be the best fit. However, if you are planning on using your vehicle to do a lot of highway travelling, then a vehicle with more power might be the wiser choice.
型号 Model: 2016 Nissan Versa Note SL
顏色 Paint Type: Aspen White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $14,498
試車售價 Price as Tested: $20,048
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,600
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,140 / 1,694 / 1,536
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,143
引擎 Engine: 1.6-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 109 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 107 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: CVT
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 7.5 / 6.0 / 6.8
Build & Price: 2016 Nissan Versa Note