When Nissan first announced the sporty new “SR”version of the Versa Note at last year’s Chicago Auto Show, I wondered if the new Nissan Versa SR would be a worthy successor to the classic 1991 Sentra SE-R. After spending 8 days with the car in and around Chicago’s suburbs, allow me to tell you that the new Versa SR isn’t half the driver’s car that the old SE-R was … but it’s easily twice the actual, usable, practical car that the SE-R was.
What the he(ck) am I talking about? Read on.
Nissan Versa Note SR – What “SR” Gets You
Nissan’s Versa Note SR is quite similar, visually, to the standard Versa Note I drove through the twisty roads outside of San Diego last year. That’s a good thing, as the old SE-R was, itself, something of a pint-size Q-ship. Under the skin, however, it’s in a different league.
In the standard Versa S, aggressive driving and cornering were strongly discouraged by the car’s budget suspension, tire, and wheel choices. To describe the experience, I wrote:
Under hard braking, the Nissan Versa’s back end got very light. On a few corners I’d taken flat in other cars wearing similar sticker prices, the Versa’s excessive body roll and utterly numb steering scared me into braking- and acceleration out of any corner with an incline had me convinced I’d broken the car (I hadn’t).
Not good. In the SR version of the Versa, however, you get sportier suspension tuning mated to upgraded wheels and actually quite good tires, meaning that the little hot hatch remains confidently planted during some of the same maneuvers that produced terror and fear in the base car.
During my initial drive of the Versa, I also complained about the car’s interior, saying that “while I looked at the outside of the Versa and thought ‘How did they build that for $12K?’, I’ll admit that, after a few minutes spent checking out the inside … I’d found my answer.” The Versa SR, though, with its 370Z and GTR-inspired interior styling, updated dashboard, and (relatively) luxe materials presented an entirely different impression.
After a few minutes in the car, I played the same little game I always do with my wife: What’s it Cost?
“It’s cute,” she said. “I wouldn’t pay too much for it, though. Maybe $25,000, so I’d guess the sticker is around $27,000.”
Most of the time, the wife is pretty good at this game. If anything, she usually guesses a bit low (like she did with the Mazda 6). This time, however, she was off by nearly $10,000 … and she was LOW, too- because the 2015 Nissan Versa SR we drove was priced at “just” $17,530.
That number, by the way, is less than $2000 north of the non-SR Versa Note I tested in 2014, and should make ticking the “SR” option box on your Nissan Versa Note order sheet a ridiculous no-brainer.
So, all is well so far. The SR version, however, had one more surprise waiting for me when I got in the back seat.
Nissan Versa Note SR – a Tiny Little Limo
In markets like SE Asia, cars like the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa are seen as up-market choices for young adults. The Versa in particular, though, has become somewhat popular as a taxi- and, after a week with one, I can see why!
The rear seat of the Versa is absolutely cavernous, as evidenced by the fact that there was nearly a foot of air between the back of my daughter’s rear-facing baby seat and my driver’s seat. For a good comparison, in my own (larger) Honda CR-V, there’s less than 6 inches of space.
Legroom in the rear of the Versa, too, is impressive, and my wife decided to just stay in the rear of the thing along with our daughter once she discovered that fact. So, for a week, I drove the ladies around like a Chicago cabbie- with just enough sporty feel through the SR’s steering to make the task seem almost kind of enjoyable.
Nissan Versa Note SR – Final Thoughts
So, would I recommend a Nissan Versa Note to my friends and family? Would it pass the “in-laws” test? In a word: No.
The Nissan Versa Note SR, however, is an entirely different matter and- while I still probably wouldn’t recommend the car to anyone hoping for a modern-day SE-R- I can totally see why the SR would appeal to a young, growing family. Especially a young, growing family with a partner that wants to be driven around like a queen.
You can find out more about the 2015 Nissan Versa SR at Nissan’s website, and check out the Chicago Auto Show “super gallery” of images one more time, below. Enjoy!
Nissan Versa Note SR Super Gallery
Original content from Gas 2; some photos courtesy Nissan North America.