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Nissan Note's about space, not speed

| Friday, July 5, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Nissan is focusing a lot of attention on a single door — and it isn't the one that provides access to the driver's seat. It's the door that swings up rather than out, the hatchback that defines the 2014 Versa Note as a portal to fifth-door fun.

Skimboard or bicycle, hibachi or tent, the Versa Note is for drivers who enjoy the destination more than the journey. It's an econo-car for active, child-free lifestyles, with a bargain-basement price tag and better fuel economy to help preserve precious cash for three-day weekends.

While the Versa sedan remains the least expensive entry car in the market, with a starting price of $11,990 excluding destination, the Versa Note hatchback is a slightly more upscale model with extensive style and technology upgrades and a price that is hundreds of dollars less than the outgoing model. It starts at $13,990.

As the Note, the Versa hatchback is a lot more (Honda) Fit. It shed 300 pounds in its redo, helping the car achieve an impressive EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 40 mpg highway.

For entry car buyers who use their vehicles as utilitarian appliances, rather than adrenaline enhancements, the Note's greatest attributes aren't about performance. They're about accommodating an active lifestyle. At a ride and drive event earlier this month to introduce the car, Nissan displayed the vehicle stuffed with a surfboard, tent, wet suit, overnight bag, lawn chair and jug of water, which still left enough room for three inhabitants with the rear seat folded down 60 percent.

The spaciousness of the rear seat was underscored when I lowered the back seats to open up its 21.4 cubic feet of cargo space. The rear seat headrests didn't snag on the front seats; they fell forward as easily as Jennifer Lawrence on her way to claim the Oscar.

— Orange County Register

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