Review and photos by Dan Heyman & Brendan McAleer
Breadboxes. Mini-MPVs. Subcompact hatchbacks.
That last one is probably the most accurate descriptor, but it’s also the most boring and I think the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note deserve more than that. These are two cars that drive well, look pretty good (if a little, well, identical) and are able to pack a lot more than their exterior dimensions suggest thanks to smart cargo management.
[Brendan: Dan’s not kidding on the whole identical thing. While taking a quick shot or two in an open lot, a security guard approached and was more than a little befuddled by the idea of this comparison test: “But they aren’t just the same car?”]
They also come fairly well equipped considering their middling trim levels, which is not something that could be said for cars of this stature a mere five years ago.
2015 Honda Fit EX, 2015 Nissan Versa Note SR. Click image to enlarge
Let it be known that the space provided by both of these vehicles is outstanding considering the segment in which they reside, and a far, far cry from what you used to get from the subcompact segment.
You sit nice and high in each, giving a commanding view out both forward and over-the-shoulder trouble spots. The Versa is actually a little better in this regard thanks to a pair of nicely tapered D-pillars. Also nice about the Note is how you kind of get the impression that you step down into it more than you do into the Fit, which is a nice quality to have, especially for shorter drivers. Both cars, meanwhile, have height-adjustable driver’s seats, although you have to have at least an SV trim to get this in the Versa, while the Fit gets it as standard.
2015 Honda Fit EX, 2015 Nissan Versa Note SR front seats. Click image to enlarge
What the Fit also gets as standard no matter the trim is a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, while the Note only gets a tilting option. For taller drivers like myself [Dan is, like, seven feet tall! Okay, 6’4”… –Ed.], this can be a real problem. I’d have to move the seat back, and I’d end up having an uncomfortable reach to the tiller. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t turn the wheel properly, but I would get some shoulder soreness on longer rides. This needs to be fixed.
The Note wins in the headroom department both front and rear, however, where it beats the Fit by 34 mm and 11 mm, respectively. That’s a split hair, though; the available passenger space in both of these is fantastic considering how tightly packaged they are. I’d take the cushier seats in the Fit, though; the Note’s items just don’t have wide enough bottom cushions.