Review: 2012 Nissan Versa

Posted on 12. Oct, 2011 by in Auto News

Do you have automotive taste common in people of a certain age? Not a fan of big wheels or firm seats? Do you want something economical? Meet the new 2012 Nissan Versa.

Some small cars are comfortable with their small car-ness. Others, not so well adapted, put on airs far beyond their station. As more than a few post-war European sedans, the new Versa falls into this camp. A large, bulbous front end aiming big car road presence, but tall, narrow proportions blow the charade. In the side view profile, a stylish rooftop plunge cutting line all possible rear headroom, it combines with a bulbous nose, body sides barn door, and (by today's standards) is tiny 15-inch wheels. When the Chinese knock off the new Versa, they might actually improve.

As long as you do not close or touch anything, the interior of the 2012 Versa goes almost as luxurious, with chrome highlights and the taupe / tan color scheme that is a staple of Lexus LS 400 since the first rolled out of the boat. High-mounted, still spongy seats to play the "compact luxury". But the hard plastic door-mounted armrests not the previous generation in a high-end Versa were far more accessible elbow. If there is a theme here, it's certainly not a consistent one. The big, chunky center console would be at home in an MPV. The Versa he seeks the audio system controls on easy reach. And the climate control area at its base … I have no idea what the designer was thinking. Shame on the impact of the plunging roofline, rear headroom, since there are many more rear legroom than most competitors.

Compared to the previous generation Versa (which lives in hatchback form), is the new one about the same size easily, but with just over 2,400 pounds, more than 300 pounds. The weight loss is a good thing is not as rambunctious 109-hp 1.6-liter engine only, the base engine is the only engine. Coupled with a CVT transmission (a five-speed manual transmission is offered only on the base S trim), which moved 1.6 well the flyweight car enough. After the stop watch, anyway. Your ears will report all side effects that have made CVTs how (un) popular as they are today. Nissan has some decent CVT implementations, can not inspire thoughts of rubber bands, friction clutches and angry lawn care equipment. This is not one of them.

The EPA fuel economy rating of 30 city, 38 highway, while the much better than the 2011 1.8SL 's 24/32, not quite the best segment. But you'd never know it from the onboard computer, which reports on 40 (also 46 for a fifteen-mile trip lightly) driving in typical suburb. Trip Computer can be optimistic, but (traditional orange Nissan LCDs) the fuel gauge moved less over the course of a day than some movement idling at a stoplight.

The suspension is tuned like the seats, so there's plenty of body roll when cornering, are low maintenance, and significant bobbling about on poorly maintained roads. No dynamic surprises if, apart from the modest amounts of understeer and tire squeal (the credit 185/65HR15 Continental ContiProContacts for the latter). Noise level (when the CVT is not doing its thing), in line with current competitors, so much lower than the previous B-segment standard.

Sure, the new Versa is designed to hit a low price, and not at $ 11,750, start $ 1,455 lower than the 2012 Accent, offered the second cheapest car currently available in the U.S. and the Versa, unlike the Accent, standard with air conditioning. Live with SL as the car checked and the big sticker jumps to $ 16,320. Not so cheap, but about $ 1,700 less than 2011 SL with Convenience Package (for the now standard Bluetooth). The 2011, include approximately $ 700 in additional features according to True Delta's Car Price Comparison Tool-some luxury items like keyless ignition, leather-wrapped steering wheel, center armrest and a passenger vanity mirror are no longer available, but this continues to be the 2012 a grand affordable.

Unfortunately, the price cut is only brings the Versa 1.6 SL in accordance with superior competitors. A Ford Fiesta SE with SYNC and Sport Appearance Packages lists for almost $ 1,000 more, but includes over $ 1,000 in additional features. The story is much the same with the new Hyundai Accent GLS with Comfort and Premium Packages: $ 900 above sticker, but over $ 700 in additional features.

Thus, the new Versa is not a value play. Financially, it makes sense only in base trim for those who need to pay as little as possible for that new car smell. In as-tested the Versa SL trim, competition leads to very little, it drags in many things, and costs about the same. So who will buy it? As mentioned in the introduction, not everyone is a fan of the latest automotive trends. Those who. The nature of a post-Reuss, pre-Lutz Buick, in a much smaller, are more economy minded package what they are looking for here

Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates True Delta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.