Wednesday, March 4, 2015

2015 Nissan Versa Note SR: Humming A New Tune With Comfort Features

Highlights:  This is the second model year for the hatchback Versa Note. A sedan model is also available.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $19,180 (base price $15,005)

Seating Capacity: 4

Standard Safety Features (SR model) airbags; ABS; traction control; electronic brake distribution; a vehicle stability control system; fog lights; and a tire pressure monitoring system

Standard Equipment (SR model): 16-inch wheels; a CVT automatic transmission; manual suede-like (front) seats; 6-way adjustable driver’s seat;  a leather wrapped sport-steering wheel; active grille shutters for fuel efficiency measures; remote keyless entry; cruise control; power windows; automatic rolling door locks; keyless entry system; a rear spoiler; and a USB port

Options: satellite radio; a back up camera; streaming audio with Bluetooth; a 5-inch color infotainment screen; and carpeted floor mats

Suspension System: independent strut (front); torsion beam (rear)

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD

Bluetooth Connectivity:  Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 mile warranty

Powertrain Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 mile warranty

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder/109-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 31-city/40-hwy

What’s New: Two new trims were added to this subcompact hatchback for the 2015 model year, the SL and SR.

Pros: The roomy Versa Note is available in five trim levels. If price is of a great concern and you’re on a strict budget, the base S trim model is available at a starting price of $15,005. With the value priced S trim, you’ll have to forego such items as 16-inch tires, power windows, power door locks, a USB outlet, cruise control, a remote keyless entry system and dual visor mirrors. Conversely, a/c, Bluetooth and a tilt steering wheel are standard features on the entry level Versa Note.

However, if comfort features are high on the priority list, the Versa Note has other trims to select from that will include the aforementioned items. We found the noted features, no pun intended, on the all-new sporty higher end SR trim. The only features lacking in our vehicle, which are standard on the new upgraded SL trim, were heated seats, an upgraded cloth interior trim, divide- and-hide adjustable floors, a satellite radio, and a push-button keyless ignition starter system. Ironically, an automatic rearview mirror is available as a stand-alone option on all of the trims.

Overall, the Versa Note is a great value package, offering a comfortable ride,  adequate power and a fuel-efficient engine, when outfitted with Nissan’s signature CVT automatic transmission.

Cons: When the vehicle hit the market last year, one of the major gripes was that the Versa  Note lacked some of the features found in its competitors in order to be the segment's price leader. For instance, some of the competitors offer a more engaging driving experience, less hard plastic surrounding the interior cabin, automatic  headlights, LED lights, a tilt (and telescopic steering) wheel and the option of adding on a power sunroof.

Moreover, the majority of the competitors in this segment also are literally driven by more horsepower too.

Furthermore, once the Versa Note is loaded up with options on the higher end SR and SL trims, pricing reaches $19,000. In many cases, this could go head-to-head with the roomier and extremely popular Altima, when the base trim is heavily discounted.

Verdict:  The hatchback subcompact segment is very competitive. While price and fuel-efficiency are driving factors in this segment, consumers still yearn for comfort creatures too. This is why Nissan stepped up to the plate, adding two new trims for the 2015 model year, staying competitive in the segment. Nissan’s Versa Note definitely gets check marks and is humming the right tune in the area of roominess, comfort and fuel-efficiency, especially when the subcompact is outfitted with the CVT automatic transmission.

Competition: Chevy Sonic; Ford Fiesta; Honda Fit; Hyundai Accent, Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris 

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