Friday, September 21, 2018

A car that we’re glad exists: Nissan announces pricing for the 2019 Versa Note

2019 Nissan Versa Note
Photo: Nissan Media Newsroom.
With a 1.6 liter, four-cylinder powerplant that makes 109 horsepower, the 2019 Versa Note is not an enthusiast’s dream. It does not exactly qualify as a hot hatch that’ll take you on a thrill ride. That’s in spite of Nissan press materials that seem to be trying to hint in the direction of the hot-hatch vibe, with their reference to the vehicle’s “sporty hatchback design” appealing to buyers looking for “an added level of style to go with a hatchback’s 5-door utility.”

But new cars are expensive today. And with MSRPs for 2019 ranging from $15,650 to $18,360, which Nissan announced on Wednesday, the Versa Note gives you a lot for the money.

Sure, there are many objections one could raise to that assessment. One might be that it’s too small. But let’s put that in perspective. Today, as we pointed out in a previous article on car size, we’re living in an age of size inflation in the automotive market.

Let’s look at an example. If you’re old enough to have been driving in the 1990s, what did you drive?

How about a Toyota Corolla? If you didn’t own one in the 90s, chances are that you at least knew someone who did. The Corollas of this era were well-respected as solid drivers. Though they were either in the subcompact (E90 generation from 1987-1992) or compact (E100 generation from 1993-2002) class, they weren’t considered overly small cars. It was the low-budget Tercel that would tend to raise fears of being too small for comfort.

Yet a 2019 Nissan Versa Note is heavier than even the larger Corolla of the E100 generation, which for the first time transitioned Corolla from the subcompact to the compact class. In wheelbase, the 2019 Nissan Versa Note is also about 5 inches longer, although the E100 Corolla had an edge of about 10 inches in overall length. But the Nissan Versa Note is the taller of the two vehicles in this intergenerational comparison, with more than 5 more inches in overall height.

So if you’re turning your nose up on an affordable, brand-new Nissan Versa Note because it’s a “mini car,” too small for either your lifestyle or your ego, let that sink in for a moment. Car size is all relative. In the 90s, the Versa would probably not have been looked at as an exceptionally small car the way it is today.

Sure, it’s a different matter if you live in a climate where you think you absolutely must have all-wheel drive, or if you simply want a vehicle with a higher ride height, and you’re willing to spend a few grand more to get into some of the smaller crossovers or SUVs. But size alone is a questionable reason to dismiss the possibility of Nissan Versa Note.

Price-wise, you can make the case that the existence of any new car beyond the mini-car category that starts at less than $16K is pretty remarkable today. The starting MSRP of the base 2019 Nissan Versa Note of $15,650 is equivalent to just a little over $10,000 in 1998 dollars, according to the inflation calculator at

Even then, 10 grand couldn’t get you a whole heck of a lot of new car. So to be able to acquire the reliability, warranty, and respect of a brand-new, reasonably-sized Nissan 20 years later for under 16 grand is nothing to sneer at.

As other automotive critics have already pointed out, the Nissan Versa also gains entry for the budget-minded buyer into a decent level of up-to-date technology, accessories, and trim, considering the price.

The Versa Note is offered in three trim levels: the S, SV, and SR. Following a late 2018 model year update, which saw the addition of standard RearView Monitor and 7.0-inch color audio system touchscreen display, the 2019 Versa Note at the SR and SV trim levels offers available features such as NissanConnect featuring Apple CarPlay, Android  Auto™ and, with subscription, SiriusXM.

The Versa Note SR offers a number of sporty exterior and interior treatments, including fog lights, rear spoiler, body-color side sills, suede-like seats, sport leather wrapped steering wheel, 16-inch machine-finished aluminum-alloy wheels and outside rearview mirrors with integrated turn signals.

No, it isn’t a fast-and-furious hot hatch. But if you’re in a situation that includes a fairly limited budget, good enough credit to qualify for a new-car loan, and a lack of desire to deal with the uncertainties of used-car ownership, the 2019 Versa Note is a respectable option that’s worth a look. In today’s expensive automotive market, we’re glad that options like this still exist.

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