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Published on Sun, Jul 31, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

The 2012 Nissan Versa

“ENTRY LEVEL” NO LONGER MEANS IT HAS TO SUCK By John-Fredrik Wright The preconceived misconception many have towards the Nissan Versa, introduced in the USA in July 2006, is that it is a cheap, compact, entry-level car. And even if those all hold true, they are thought about in the wrong way. Yes, the Versa has a low sticker price. Yes, it is technically a compact car. And given these two facts, this is an entry-level car. However, as Nissan makes real clear with their new 2012 Versa, cheap doesn’t have to mean cheap, compact needn’t be small, and entry-level doesn’t necessarily have to mean that it’s lacking. On the contrary, actually.


The Nissan Versa was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in April, and the media launch was just a few days ago in Seattle, Washington. Seattle is a beautiful city with waterfront roads and parks, as well as some great landmarks. It also is home to something else though: a rather large group of individuals that fit Nissan’s target demographics. College graduates in their mid to late twenties with no children, who seek an affordable fuel-efficient car that does not suck. Nissan has much fancier ways of putting it, but that is basically what we are talking about. We all have, or have had, that friend with that car. The one that always is lacking in space for our stuff, or at least never enough to go on longer trips in. The good news for that friend is that his or her car is never used for outings. The bad news is that they can’t really be a part of the tightly knit posse that carpools to fun activities. So, how is the Versa? One thing is for sure: It absolutely, positively does NOT suck. Is it a real car, as Nissan intends for it to be? Yes, you can say that. Something you would want to go on cross-country road-trips in? Maybe, especially given that the price tag allows for a lot of spending money on the way. My road-trip status is of course based on the fact that you are only paying around $16,000 for a loaded Versa, a price that would make most purchasers a little skeptical. Rest assured though, while the Versa might not be a performance beast or a luxury cruiser, it will definitely get you to where you are going. In style? Sure, you could say that.


You might even go so far as to say that the Versa is eco-friendly—At least with the 38 highway miles per gallon, the trip to the gas station will not hurt as bad. Even with that gas mileage, and such a low-priced car, there are still 109 horses under the hood. This might not mean racing excellence, but the car can definitely muster enough power to get on freeways and pass slower cars. The CVT does a good job at keeping the revs aligned with what is best for the current situation, even better than you and I will be able to. This is why the CVT has the great 38 miles per gallon rating, whereas the manual is rated at 36 mpg. What about roominess? Well, surprisingly enough, this is a big small car. Nissan likes to brag about having more legroom for the rear seat passengers than a Lexus LS460, the BMW 5-series, as well as the Mercedes-Benz E-class. While this bragging right is based on specific measurement criteria, and the Versa will not be competing with these cars in the first place, it is well-warranted. The Versa does have plenty of space in the back, enough actually, to haul your friends around in comfort. To the touch, the Versa might not be Mercedes-like either, but for between $10,000 and $17,000, it is pretty impressive. It feels like decently high-quality interior features have taken the spot of those really ugly finishes that have been known to show up in the entry-level cars.


Upgrade to a fully loaded Versa with the Technology package and you have yourself a car with a Bluetooth hand-free phone system, USB/iPod connectivity, an upgraded audio system with XM radio, and the Nissan Navigation System with XM NavTraffic with a 5-inch color touch-screen. Pretty sweet, to put it in the words of the presumable target market buyer. As the Versa hits the market in just a few of days (check out the Nissan website for a count-down), get ready to see a bunch of these in all the metropolitan areas across the nation. If you’re lucky you’ll buy one, if not, you can always hope that a friend lets you ride in that Mercedes-sized back seat.


SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2012 Nissan Versa Sedan Price: $10,990 (base) EPA fuel economy rating: 27 / 30 mpg (city) (manual / CVT) 36 / 38 mpg (highway) (manual / CVT) Engine size and type: 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cyl. Engine


Horsepower: 109 @ 6,000 RPM Torque: 107 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM Transmission type: 5-speed manual transmission or Xtronic CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission) Drive configuration: Front wheel drive Steering (type): Vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering Suspension (front and rear): Independent front strut suspension with stabilizer bar Torsion beam rear axle with integrated stabilizer bar Brakes and tires: Vented front disc/rear drum brakes 15" wheels with P185/65R15 all-season tires Dimensions Length: 175.4 in Width: 66.7 in Height: 59.6 in

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