2014 Nissan Versa
2014 Nissan Versa
2014 Nissan Versa. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Paul Williams

Newport Beach, California – You’ve got to admit, a starting price of $11,898 for a new car gets a person’s attention. And it’s true, too! (Plus taxes, $1,567 freight and $134 fees, of course). It’s the 2014 Nissan Versa S Sedan and it arrives with the same 1.6L, 190 horsepower, DOHC, 16-valve four-cylinder engine found in all the Versa Sedan variants.

Oh, did I say 190? Sorry, I meant 109.

Still… same five-speed manual transmission, along with a radio, CD player with auxiliary input, a trip computer and perhaps surprisingly, heated power outside mirrors. You also get 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers and a six-way manually adjusted driver’s seat. The colour choice is limited to black, grey, silver and “Fresh Powder” (white, I presume), but you could tint the windows for a little drama.

Yes, it’s got windshield wipers and a heater and mirrors, and such. No cruise control, though, and no automatic (CVT) transmission is available on the S model, not even if you pay money. No air, no power windows, no power door locks, no chrome trim, no map lights. Come to think of it, there’s a lot that it doesn’t have (no Bluetooth, either). Even the Versa S seat fabrics are a bit low-rent.

But it’s got more than the very basics, it’s big for a little car (has a 442 L trunk), and as I said, it’s brand new! If you’re after an automotive bargain, why bother looking any further?

Unless you don’t like sedans and you want a hatchback. In that case, there’s a new “jumbo shrimp” of the subcompact segment available from Nissan in the form of the 2014 Versa Note. It starts at $13,348 for the S model, which while still very inexpensive, admittedly doesn’t pack the punch of a new-car number beginning with 11.

So what do you get for your extra $1,450? Well, puzzlingly, one less colour choice than the sedan: black, grey and white, to be specific (this is not a particularly interesting palette, Nissan…).

2014 Nissan Versa2014 Nissan Versa
2014 Nissan Versa. Click image to enlarge

Otherwise, the base Versa Note has some, but not many, additional standard features compared with the sedan, including electroluminescent gauges, a rear windshield wiper (well, it would, wouldn’t it?), cargo area light (instead of a trunk light), silver accents on the dash and vent rings, front door map pockets with bottle holders, and rear seatback map pockets (no navigation, as you can surmise by all the map pockets). Oddly, however, there’s no map light to go with the pockets, and the driver’s seat only has four adjustments, compared with the sedan’s six.

2014 Nissan Versa Note
2014 Nissan Versa Note
2014 Nissan Versa Note. Click image to enlarge

Of course, you can get more fully equipped Versa Sedan and Versa Note models. The $14,798 Versa SV Sedan includes power door locks, spoiler, power windows and air conditioning, among other upgrades. The CVT transmission can be added for an extra $1,300.

And the $17,198 Versa SL Sedan adds 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, intelligent key, cruise control and Bluetooth (and finally, map lights!). An $800 Tech Package nets a navigation system and satellite radio.

Similarly, the $14,998 Versa Note SV adds air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, power windows, front map light, upgraded interior and chrome accents. The $16,998 Versa Note SL gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, heated front seats, satellite radio, and the Divide-N-Hide rear floor among other features.

Notable (pardon the pun) is that with these upper level Versa Note models, especially the SV, you’ll find a better-equipped vehicle at effectively the same price compared with the Sedan.

Other similarities and differences? Physically, the Versa Note is shorter, slightly taller, has more headroom front and rear, but less legroom. It offers more hip room but the same shoulder room.

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