An all-new model for 2007, the Versa is now the entry-level offering from Nissan; it takes over the spot previously held by the Sentra, which is redesigned and larger for 2007.
Available as a four-door hatchback or four-door sedan, the Versa is sold in several global markets, where it’s also called the Tiida, with its design, specifications and equipment customized to each market. It is built on Nissan’s “B” platform, which features a longer wheelbase than many competitors in this segment, with correspondingly generous front and rear passenger legroom. Trim lines are the base S and upper-line SL.
The Versa uses an all-new 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine; the base transmission is a six-speed manual. The sedan models and S hatchback can be optioned to a four-speed automatic, while the SL hatchback can be optioned to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Standard features on the S include 15-inch steel wheels, heated power mirrors, tilt steering column, variable intermittent wipers, four-way manual driver’s seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, CD player with four speakers, and side and curtain airbags. Hatchback models add a rear wiper/washer and cargo cover.
Available options on the S are the $500 ABS package, which adds four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution; and the $1,400 Value Option Package, which adds air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, rear door pockets, glovebox light, retained accessory power and door armrest pads.
The SL adds 15-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, cruise control, front map lights, driver vanity mirror, six-way manual driver’s seat, woven cloth upholstery, front and rear centre armrests, door armrest pads and anti-theft system.
Available options on the SL are the Sport Package, which adds fog lights, skirt package, spoiler, power sunroof and dual illuminated vanity mirrors; and the $1,000 Technology Package, which adds Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, leather-wrapped wheel and premium six-CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers, subwoofer, auxiliary audio jack, radio data system and speed-sensitive volume control.
Canadians are increasingly warming up to the small- and sub-compact segment, where the Versa will compete with vehicles such as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Chevrolet Aveo. It’s got a lot going for it: its 1.8-litre engine provides good performance, and its double-padded seats are possibly the most comfortable in this segment, or even in comparison to many larger vehicles, especially with the available door armrest pads. This is one of the few small cars that would be viable on a long trip.
On the down side, the electric steering tends to be numb. The four-speed transmission is well-suited to the engine, but the CVT can tend to slog along at lower speeds. Cargo capacity is always an issue in smaller cars, and while the Versa hatchback’s rear seatbacks fold, they simply flop forward onto the cushions, resulting in a large step up from the cargo floor. The Honda Fit wins this one hands – er, seats down.
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