Scenic Seattle, Washington was the backdrop for a few spins in Nissan’s all-new 2012 Versa Sedan. The brand’s updated compact offering, which they have dubbed the “Big Small Car,” handled rather well through Seattle’s mountainous terrain, steep downtown hills, narrowly, curvy and congested Pike Place Market and along Interstate 5. The vehicle was cool, but so was capturing some of the picturesque sites that position Seattle as one of the jewels of the Pacific Northwest.
Commencing at a mere $10,990, there are plenty of reasons to shift your attention to the micro economy car from Japan. Although the Versa is not outfitted with fancy gadgets and gizmos, it’s easy on the eyes, performs solidly and offers great fuel economy for first time buyers to consider. Simply put, you will get a lot of bang for your buck. Literally!
In addition to a great starting price, the Versa Sedan comes pretty loaded with standard features. The 1.6 S models are packaged with standard elements like air conditioning and AM/FM/CD/Aux while the 1.6 SV adds cruise control, Fine Vision instrumentation, chrome grille accents, body-color, dual power, remote-controlled sideview mirrors, upgraded cloth seats and power windows. The 1.6 SL models insert 15” aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lights, variable intermittent wipers, 60/40-split, fold-down rear seat, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, USB/iPod connectivity, an upgraded audio system, door-linked map lights and more. Three option packages are offered, and depending on the trim level the Versa can be upgraded to include a Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, upgraded audio, iPod control and the Nissan Navigation System with XM NavTraffic and 5” color, touch-screen display.
Style is always an important factor with vehicle purchases. Yet, it’s reserved for discretion based on the individual. I enjoyed its bubbly demeanor. There is a choice of two interior colors (Sandstone and Charcoal) and eight exterior hues. The Versa Sedan’s silhouette is attractive and sleek, featuring Nissan’s new signature grille and jeweled headlights. For drivers who inadvertently find themselves living in and out of their cars like I do, the vehicle’s interior is voluminous, with plenty of trunk space and best in class rear legroom.
For you tech spec junkies, the Versa Sedan is available with a 5-speed manual transmission (1.6 S model only) and with a next-generation Xtronic CVT transmission. Nissan feels comfortable with this set-up because the CVT allows continuous change of the transmission gear ratio they say. The new CVT design adds an auxiliary gearbox using planetary gearing, helping improve efficiency.
The Versa Sedan’s 1.6-liter engine is rated at 109 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, which gives a respectable output for everyday driving. Fuel economy for the 2012 Versa Sedan is estimated at 30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined with the CVT transmission and 27/36/30 mpg with the 5-speed manual transmission. Additionally, the new Versa will be the first U.S. Nissan model branded with the PUREDRIVE designation which will be used on models utilizing Nissan’s most advanced technologies to promote eco-friendly driving and lower CO2 emissions.
The 2012 Versa Sedan features all of the aforementioned and a bevy of standard safety features including an advanced airbag system with dual-stage front supplemental air bags and front seat side-impact supplemental air bags for chest protection, seat-mounted driver and front passenger side-impact supplemental air bags, and roof-mounted curtain side-impact air bags for front and rear outboard occupant head protection.
All in all, Nissan has a little winner on its hands with the 2012 Versa Sedan.