The Nissan Versa 4-door sedan received a full redesign in 2012, but an updated version of the Versa hatchback was on hold until now. The new hatchback has finally hit the pavement and it's called the 2014 Nissan Versa Note. Right up front, we think it's a much better-looking model than the one it replaces. It's also a subcompact class leader in sticker price, fuel economy and cargo volume.

Impressive Space Within

No question, the 5-passenger interior of the Versa Note is roomy. There's plenty of headroom and legroom, so that four adults won't have to squeeze in. But in general, the three trim levels are all pretty basic. Things only start to get interesting with the option packages.

Thankfully, all models come with air conditioning, a 12-volt power outlet and a 60/40 split rear seat. With options, you'll receive extras such as navigation, USB and a 360-degree Around View parking assist system. And we really like Nissan's Divide-N-Hide adjustable floor that's really a hidden storage compartment.

Our biggest problem with the cabin is that you'll be constantly reminded that this is a budget-minded car, thanks to all the hard plastic surfaces and the no-frills instrument layout.

Slow-Going

The Nissan Versa Note won't wow you with its power, either. The little 109-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine feels willing, but only because the Versa Note is so lightweight. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on the base S trim. There's also an available continuously variable transmission (CVT).

When loaded with people or cargo, the Note is slow to accelerate. But the cabin is surprisingly quiet when cruising on the interstate -- a rarity in this vehicle class.

The real payoff, however, comes at the gasoline pump. The Versa Note returns as much as 40 miles per gallon on the highway, which is right up there in hybrid territory.

Economically Priced

Just $13,990 will get you into a base Versa Note S before options. The SV runs closer to $16,000. But this class is filled with other solid and budget-friendly choices: the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio, just to name a few.

The Verdict

The 2014 Nissan Versa Note doesn't make inflated promises or try to overachieve in this competitive segment. It has friendly style, an essential list of features and more interior space than any other subcompact. It's not plush or powerful, but the price is right, the fuel economy is outstanding and it could be your best choice in a crowded field of economy cars.

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Jessica Shea Choksey is an automotive journalist and former writer/reporter for the PBS/Discovery Channel television series "MotorWeek." She began her career in journalism as an editor for numerous magazines and publications mainly outside of the automotive field. Jessica currently resides with her family, in Southern California.

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