At the beginning of December 2017, I needed to have some work done on my 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport. As I have done a lot of work related to computers for a dealership I hang out at, they offered to do the work on the van if I bought all parts that were needed and could go without the van for a week. I jumped on this as it is a pain working on the GM U-Vans.
I also decided to rent a car rather then drive my other car because I had a lot of discounts from Enterprise Rental, I made arraignments to have a midsized car for the week. I expected a Malibu or a Sonata. However when I arrived I noticed a blue 2015 Nissan Versa Note with Ontario license plates on it in the rental car lot. I inquired on it and was told it was a rental that was just dropped off here by a person that elected to fly back to Canada due to an emergency instead of driving it back. I asked if it was available to be rented and was told yes. I then switched my reservation to a small car and got it.
My interest in it was 3 fold. I wanted to drive a car with a different country’s license plate on it in the USA. I also wanted to drive a car that had everything (or most everything) in metric and I also wanted to drive a Versa Note (which was a car that I was to test drive before I bought my Fiesta a few years ago)
My first impression of the car was that it was a reasonably good looking car with a decent amount of space in the hatch for items.
The seats were firm but they were not uncomfortable and at the end of a long journey, my back and rest of my body did not feel bad.
The interior was actually more spacious then I would have expected in a car of this size. I am 6ft 1in tall and with the seat all the way back I could barely reach the pedals. Head room was great. Even with the seat raised up to its highest, there was still room between the top of my head and the roof.
The car being a Canadian market car was metric and used kilometers, Celsius and liters. There was a small inner MPH ring on the speedometer but you had to stare too long for it to be effective(at least it was for me) so I kept a paper attached to the dash that had the conversion from kilometers to miles in order to be able to make sure I was going the correct miles to avoid a speeding camera. After a day or so I did not need the paper anymore and I could remember it.
Equipment wise the car was well loaded with a backup camera, USB port, power windows, locks, mirrors, heated mirrors, remote start and remote entry.
The engine in the Versa Note is a 117hp 1.6l 4 cylinder engine. However unlike the miserable penalty box engines of old, this one is actually quite sprightly. While no race car engine, the 1.6l engine in the Versa Note is more then enough to motivate the car in taking off from a stop and keeping up on the highway.
The CVT transmission takes a bit to get used to as you cannot feel it shifting the way you can with regular automatic transmissions. I have read that CVT transmissions get a lot of flak for their performance but I found no issue with it. The car was pleasing to drive.
In the article about the 2008 Land Rover, Mr. Brendan Saur remarked that the inboard folding arm rest (which was once a common feature in cars) seems to be dying off. The Versa Note has this feature for the driver’s seat and if I recall, my 2012 Fiesta had it also. So maybe this feature is making a comeback.
The other thing that surprised me in this car was that it bucks the trend of having the “great wall” of center console that most cars have now. This console is small and does not impede reaching for items on the passenger side floor or cause you to bump your right leg on it while driving.
The Bluetooth and radio worked flawlessly and had no issues.
In short this car was a good rental car. It was comfortable to drive and seemed to be well made with the doors shutting with a nice solid thunk.
The only annoying thing on this car was the button to open the gas filler door. This lever is very low on the dash next to the hood release lever. I spent a few minutes looking for it at the gas station as you cannot see it until you bend down and look.
If I was in the market for a small car, I would consider buying one of these. In fact I should have test drove this before I bought my Ford Fiesta as it is better in every way then the Fiesta. Plus there is no Sync in the Versa Note. This single feature turned a good car into a bad car quickly for me and caused me to dump it less then a year later. I most likely would have bought the Versa Note i