I briefly mentioned that the payoff of the Nissan Versa Note getting a less-powerful engine than its predecessor was better fuel economy ratings. Even after I thrashed it on mountain roads and generally drove like I’m told all self-respecting autojournalists do, it returned 35.7 MPG.
Considering my Nissan cube, which is daily driven by my wife on her mountain commute, gets similar mileage, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised too much. But to get that kind of mileage in the cube, we try not to punish it with hard throttle and brake inputs. Meanwhile, I gave the 2014 Nissan Versa Note a comparative whipping during the test week, with plenty of mountain driving and general lead-footedness.
To top it all off, I got to use the Versa Note not once, but twice on my paper route at the day job. This is usually the first thing a press car goes through when it enters my employ, and it tends to put a damper on fuel mileage because of the rapid-fire stop-and-go pattern of my route, with its multiple traffic lights and ignition stop-start cycles at each delivery location along the way. By luck of the press car trade-out schedule during my week with the Versa Note, the little Nissan got to do a route on both ends of the week. If one route day was at all detrimental to the Versa Note’s mileage, surely two route days were doubly so.
As a final note, I had to run the air conditioning compressor a lot — not necessarily because it was hot enough to use the A/C all the time, but because fall temperatures (and fall dewpoints) required heavy-handed use of the car’s defroster to keep the windshield frost- and mist-free.
So all in all, I felt like 35.7 MPG was downright respectable. I spent an afternoon hooning down tar-and-chip backroads with more switchbacks and elevation change than most people experience in a year’s worth of driving, stoplight-dragged every beat-up b13 Sentra and mid- to late-’90s Civic in my hometown up to 40 MPH or the next traffic light, whichever came first, and practiced my late braking and apex-clipping as much as one might dare to do on public roads at sometimes extralegal speeds (shh, don’t tell the po-lice, okay?) and the dashboard-displayed MPG would not dip below 35 average for more than a few minutes.
As a matter of fact, the second and third day of my test, while I was still getting comfortable with the car’s driving dynamics and character, saw the trip computer estimate as high as 42 MPG. That was including the first day of the test, when I took it on the paper route, plus a couple of days of commuting to and from work at 45 MPH with a couple of stoplights to mix things up. Based on its fuel economy performance on those early days, I’m confident that if I owned a Versa Note and didn’t drive it like a total buffoon, I could easily average better than the EPA sticker of 40 MPG highway.
Disclosure: Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.