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Bank. Money. If you have ever tuned into Food Network’s ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ in the US, this is how host Guy Fieri describes a successful recipe he’s sampled. It’s good, and as a restaurateur himself, he knows it’s profitable. Rewind the clock back to April of 2011, where yours truly, along with our Founding Editor Gary Grant stood for the global reveal of the all-new 2012 Nissan Versa sedan. It’s no secret the automotive press has been excited about the new interest in sub-compacts, but the sort of plain Jane image of the Versa has left us a little cold. And Nissan is fine with that. Why? The Versa is the best-selling car in its class, that’s why.
Even with a light show and pounding techno beats from the 2011 New York International Auto Show as the Versa was shown to us, it was tough to muster up any excitement. Now off the stage and in the real world, it was time to sample, and live with the Versa for a week. The Versa comes off as sort of narrow and top-heavy, and the skinny, high sidewall tires do nothing to add here. Thankfully our test car was the top-spec SL, which at least added chrome trim, body colored side-view mirrors, fog lights and 15″ alloys. Finished in a subdued Sandstone metallic, our Versa may have looked slightly oddly proportioned, but did not look at all out of place on Main Street in the wealthy town of Litchfield, CT among the chic shops and restaurants.
If the exterior of the Versa is a tad less graceful than the competition, there is a reason. The interior. Inside, the Versa offers an incredible amount of space. Other subcompacts like the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta have nothing on the Versa for interior room, especially in the rear seat. The amount of room in the rear has no peer in this class of car. Up front, there was more than enough room as well. Seats were cushy with little in the way of lateral support. All controls were intuitive to use, and easy to read. Icing on the cake was a positively enormous trunk.
The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan is powered by a 1.6L four cylinder rated at 109hp. Only the base model is offered with a five-speed manual, while all other trim levels come with a Continuously Variable Transmission. As an automotive enthusiast, I despise CVTs, but Nissan is fully committed to the CVT, and as awful as they are, I concede that Nissan builds the best of the lot. No, the Versa is not quick, and as we toured the curvy roads of Litchfield County the Versa was struggling a bit. At highway speeds the Versa was completely comfortable, but passing takes some planning. With EPA fuel economy figures of 30/38 MPG city/highway, it is fuel economy that matters most over performance.
Yet even sticking to country back roads with tight corners and elevation changes, the Versa kept its cool. The steering was numb, the suspension soft, but the car never felt sloppy, and while not going slow, my wife and son never complained.
The Nissan Versa is one of the cheapest cars for sale in the US, with a base MSRP of $10,990. Our top-spec SL added the previously described features, as well as Bluetooth, audio steering wheel controls, iPod controls, trip computer, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, and cruise control. Options on our test car included floor and trunk mats, and the Tech Package, which added GPS Navigation, a 5″ color touch screen and XM Satellite Radio. Including destination charges, our Versa came in at a reasonable $17,190USD. That’s a good amount of of kit for what Nissan is charging.
It may not be sexy or most fun to drive in its segment, but Nissan owns the subcompact car segment in America. And to quote the blonde-bleached spiked hair Food Network persona Guy Fieri, that is money.
Consumer Reports has just wrapped up an evaluation of subcompact sedans, and the Kia Rio EX has rolled out ahead of the class. The four-door beat out its corporate clone, the Hyundai Accent and the Chevrolet Sonic to take the top spot. Evaluators pointed to the sharp handling and well-optioned interior in the Rio as reasons for the vehicle's win. The newly redesigned Nissan Versa and unloved Toyota Yaris filled out the top five sedans. And what of the baby hatchbacks? CR once again credited the Honda Fit as leader of the pack, followed closely by the Versa Hatchback and Rio Hatchback.
The organization found fault with the base Chevrolet Sonic's fuel economy, and found the turbocharged LTZ model to be too expensive. Evaluators also felt the Sonic Turbo "didn't live up to its sporty aspirations."
We'll politely agree to disagree on that one.
All of the vehicles in the evaluation are either too new or scored too low in CR evaluations to earn a coveted Recommended rating. Hit the jump for a look at the full press release and debate amongst yourselves in Comments.Permalink | Email this | Comments
We often express our love for good road trips here at Autoblog.com. Apparently, Nissan is also a fan of such extended endeavors, and the automaker has brewed up a new contest that centers around hitting the road. It's called My Versa Road Trip, and it will end up putting a 2012 Nissan Versa in someones garage.
Nissan has teamed up with Google Maps to create a web app that lets you plot the trip you want to take. You can then share that trip on Facebook, and you are entered into the contest. You get to pick a few friends along with the soundtrack for your trip and then describe the adventure in 104 characters or less. The best trips will win prizes, and the grand prize is an actual road trip with friends and a brand new Versa.
A bit too lazy to plan a road trip? Britney Spears is here to help you. The pop princess has decided to step in and give out a new Versa as well. This time, all you need to do is fill out a form, and you're entered. No, we don't get it either.
Click past the jump to watch video about the contest, then head over to MyVersaRoadTrip.com to plot your own course.Permalink | Email this | Comments
V is for Versa, and Nissan would like you to believe that its 2012 Versa also stands for volume, value, virtues, versatility and, since we're out of Vs, sophistication. While other automakers have been out to redefine the idea of the compact car as something hip and sporty - no longer the moped of cardom - Nissan developed this Versa "to redefine compact car value, giving buyers everything they want and need in one stylish package."
That means the Versa makes math arguments, not emotional ones. It wants to give you more than you'll get elsewhere and not make you feel bad about going for its attributes instead of allure. As the segment sales leader, that argument has been working for years. Yet with other manufacturers adding new variables, we went to Seattle to see if the Versa still makes a case for itself.
And it does... if you like numbers.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Nissan has officially released pricing on the company's 2012 Versa Hatchback. Buyers looking for the functionality of a five-door can expect to pay $14,380 excluding destination charges for models equipped with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission in S trim. Opting for a four-speed automatic gearbox will set you back an additional $1,000, while stepping up to SL trim with the company's Xtronic CVT will cost another $4,010. Of course, that stack of cash buys SL owners more than just the fuel-saving transmission. It also includes all of the equipment formerly stashed in the Premium Package as standard, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth hands-free calling and 16-inch aluminum wheels.
Keep in mind that aside from the new standard equipment, the 2012 hatch will soldier on much as it was in 2011. Nissan says that since most of the model's sales were five-doors, it wanted to debut an all-new sedan first.
Even so, the five-door prices mark a steep increase over the base Versa Sedan, which starts at just $10,990 when equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed transmission. The hatchback Versa is on sale right now, but shoppers looking to get their hands on the low-buck four-door will have to wait until later this year. Hit the jump for the full press blast.Permalink | Email this | Comments