The other day I made a post about how I don’t hate the Versa Note as much as I did the first time I drove it. I still don’t like its CVT, and wanted to see if the manual is better. Well, thanks to the lure of a free $50 gift card with test drive, I now know.
I drove a sedan just for comparison purposes. Is the manual better? The short answer is “Yes, but...”.
There were two things about the manual I didn’t care for. First, the clutch pedal travel is really short. That makes a smooth shift a bit hard at first. The pedal is light, but you can still feel it. That automatically makes it way better than the Mitsubishi Mirage’s clutch. In the Versa, I got used to the short travel but it was mildly annoying.
Second, and I noticed the same thing in the Mirage, the gear lever feels oddly tilted forward. (The Versa Note is pictured here, the interiors are mostly the same.) It doesn’t look like it, but it feels that way. 1st, 3rd, and 5th gears feel too far forward and down. 2nd and 4th feel like they are located where the neutral area should be. It’s hard to get used to. Also, the knob doesn’t feel quite right in your hand. I usually grip the shifter from the top (my Fiat has a round ball-like shift knob which is perfect for that), but this one sort of forces you to grip it from the side and I’ve never liked that.
Besides those two things, the manual made a marked difference in performance. You still run short of power in some cases but it’s not as glaring as it is with the CVT.
As far as the driving experience in the sedan, it felt more floaty and had more body roll. You wouldn’t call it sporty, but I’ve driven worse.
All in all, I could probably live with a manual Versa and not want to kill myself. I think I’d still choose something else though.