New-car smell on the cheap. With a starting price of $16,535 (destination fees included), the 2019 Nissan Versa Note is one of the cheapest ways to get a roomy subcompact hatchback with a warranty and a new-car smell. Sadly, it doesn’t have much else going for it, as the low price comes with plenty of sacrifices, and that new-car smell and warranty fade with time.
Plenty of space for most buyers. If there's one value proposition the Versa Note offers buyers, it’s space per dollar. This is particularly true in its rear seats, where this subcompact hatchback offers plenty of room for long-legged riders with 38.3 inches of leg room. This gives it 3.7 extra inches of leg room compared to the Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback and an extra five inches compared to the Toyota Yaris Hatchback.
While it’s not as dominant in cargo capacity, the 2019 Versa Note is respectable at 18.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats upright. This trumps the Yaris by 3.2 cubes and the Honda Fit by 2.2 cubes, but comes up short by 0.2 cubic feet versus the Sonic.
Where the Versa Note’s roominess falls is its 38.3 cubes with the rear seats folded. This beats the Yaris by default because Toyota didn’t release its max cargo capacity, but it falls well short of the Sonic’s 47.7 cubes and the Fit’s crossover-like 52.7 cubes.
Simple cabin with cherry-picked tech. One quick ride in the 2019 Versa Note and it’s clear Nissan’s focus was limiting cost. There's no shortage of plastic in the cabin, and the awkward steering wheel and disproportionately long gear shifter show a lack of investment in interior design.
That said, Nissan cherry-picked some decent available technology for the Versa Note. Some standouts include the standard seven-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, and Bluetooth. There's also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included in the $735 Special Edition package that’s available with the SV trim. The Yaris doesn’t offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, and it costs a few hundred dollars more to get them in the Sonic and Fit.
Limited power with a touch of thriftiness. While the Versa Note forgoes some of the awkward styling of its sedan sibling, it shares its four-door brethren’s pokey powertrain. This 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine wheezes out just 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. While this was once the norm in this class, there's now the 130-hp Fit and Kia Rio, and the 138-hp Sonic leading the class.
Add a droning continuously variable transmission and limited sound-deadening material to the mix, and the 2019 Nissan Versa Note is a loud highway cruiser. While the Versa sedan allows buyers to alleviate some of these issues with its standard manual transmission, the Versa Note doesn't have this option.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a reward for dealing with this noisy, underpowered drivetrain, as the Versa Note has average fuel economy for the class at an EPA-estimated 31 miles per gallon city, 39 mpg highway, and 34 combined.
Final thoughts. The 2019 Nissan Versa Note has one type of buyer in mind: those on a tight budget. Its bare-bones base trim has little in terms of amenities, almost no design creativity, and loads of hard plastic, but this all comes with one of the lowest starting prices in the industry and loads of rear-seat room for the class.
Fortunately, more popular standard features like a seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera are standard, and buyers can get the desirable Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities without a huge price increase. This will at least make it bearable for the younger, cellphone-loving generations.
As for competition, buyers looking for more pep will find the turbocharged Sonic and its 148 pound-feet of torque more suitable. For more max cargo space, the Honda Fit’s “Magic Seats” in the rear reveal a cavernous 52.7 cubes of cargo room. For some extra style points, the more refined-looking Kia Rio is a good option.