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The Toronto Star recently ran a review of the Versa Note that started with...

The Nissan Versa Note feels their pain. This reborn four-door compact hatchback wasn’t on sale for a year before the bratty Nissan Micra came along and stole its thunder. Trumpeted as the cheapest . . . er, least expensive car in Canada at $9,998, the ovoid little Micra got more press than a Kardashian butt lift.
Source: http://www.thestar.com/autos/2014/12..._to_offer.html

Not only did the Micra get tons of attention, but Versa Note sales seem to have dropped off considerably since the Micra's arrival. Coincidence?

Some numbers:


  • 7977 = Versa sales in the 1st half of the year
  • Micra arrives on the scene in May 2014 (first full month of sales)
  • Versa sales peaked in June and headed down from there
  • 5337 = Versa sales in the 2nd half of the year, down 31% from the first half
  • 5808 = Micra sales in the 2nd half of the year


So the Micra is apparently more popular than the Versa Note. How come?

SEE ALSO: Chart: Micra's effect on sales of Nissan's other small cars (vs. Versa, Sentra)


Price?

Obviously if saving money is the highest priority, the base Micra S wins hands down. "Ten Grand Tin Can", baby!

But what about the other trims?

Starting price
Total MSRP, including shipping & other fees

(excluding tax, insurance, license)
Micra S
5-speed manual
$9,998 $11,398
Versa Note S
5-speed manual
$14,298 $15,865
Micra SV
5-speed manual
$13,698 $15,098
Versa Note SV
5-speed manual
$16,098 $17,665
Micra SV
4-speed automatic
$14,698 $16,098
Versa Note SV
CVT automatic
$17,398 $18,965

So it seems the price differences are pretty big (however it's also pretty likely the 2014 Versa Notes have discounts available that the Micra doesn't).


Equipment...

The price alone obviously doesn't tell the whole story. What extra stuff do you get in the Note for that extra moolah?

Let's look at standard equipment on the Note SV that isn't standard on the Micra SV (http://www.nissan.ca/en/cars/versa-n...s-specs.html):


  • NissanConnectSM with Mobile Apps
  • Hands-free text messaging assistant
  • RearView Monitor
  • Divide-N-HideŽ Adjustable cargo Floor
  • Sun visors with extensions
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • USB connection port


Other than that, the cars pretty much have the same stuff. Comparing SV manual, is that worth $2567 to you? And consider you can get a bunch of those things by adding the $500 "convenience pack" to the Micra SV.


Styling...

I don't know about you, but the Note's exterior style can't touch the Micra's joie de vivre, which looks like a bundle of fun. The Note is much more serious.

Inside, the cars share many interior pieces -- dashboard components, seats, steering wheel, etc.


Capacity...

It's in the back of the Note where there's a huge difference -- it's like a mini limousine back there. Your rear seat passengers would prefer you bought the Note!

Tons more cargo space, too, especially with the seats folded down.


Fuel economy...

Surprisingly, the Versa Note with the automatic transmission has the best fuel economy rating - even better than the Micra 5-speed for both city and highway.

  • Micra 5-speed: 8.6 city / 6.6 hwy
  • Versa Note CVT: 7.5 city / 6.0 hwy


This is mainly because the CVT lets the engine settle down to a low, fuel-saving RPM when power is not required.

Have you driven the CVT? Some people don't like them because there's a "disconnect" between the engine RPM and acceleration. They're like a snowmobile or a motorboat: open the throttle and right away you get lots of noise, but it takes a while for the speed to build up.


Driving dynamics...

Aside from the automatic transmissions they should be very similar.


  • Engine is the same: 109 hp, 1.6L
  • Manual transmission: same
  • Curb weight: Micra has about a 100 lb advantage: in 5mt S trim, Micra = 1044 kg (2302 lbs), Note = 1096 kg (2417 lbs). In SV automatic trim, Micra = 1077 (2375) ; Note = 1129 (2489).
  • Front & rear stabilizer bars standard on both cars, all trims
  • Tires (S & SV): Micra = P185/60R15, Note = 185/65HR15 (specified as low rolling resistance)
  • Steering: the Micra may have a faster steering ratio
  • Wheelbase: Micra = 2,450 mm (96.5 in.), Note = 2600 mm (102.4 in.)
  • Drag coefficient: Micra = 0.315, Note = 0.308


Given these differences, the Micra probably has a slight edge in terms of delivering a "responsive / fun" drive, especially in the automatic: lighter, lower profile tires, shorter wheelbase, possibly quicker steering ratio.

Meanwhile the Note is smoother riding and quieter (especially with the CVT, which revs quite low once at cruising speed).