Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nissan Versa Gives an Economic Stimulus

  • We recently got a chance to drive the entire lineup of Nissan sedans at the company's North American headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. We enjoyed each of the cars. Here's what we thought of the low-end model:

  • The 2010 Nissan Versa is a wonderful choice for people who want to ride in comfort but want great gas mileage and a low sticker price. The Versa’s small-outside/big-inside dynamic is evident both in the hatchback and sedan editions. The Versa hatchback is in effect a high-roof wagon that gives a quartet of six-footers plenty room for knees and noggins, or, with the rear seat folded, ingests your girlfriend’s dinette set. The Versa sedan paces it for passenger space, though of course not for cargo volume. And unlike the geek-chic Versa hatchback, the sedan’s styling has no redeeming value. At just $10,620, including destination, the Nissan Versa Sedan 1.6 Base model, however, does contend for title of “America’s least-expensive new car.”
  • The Versa now has a new grille, updated wheel styles, and some sporty new body addenda for the top-line model. Unchanged is the size or basic shape of the artfully proportioned Versa wagon (a nice hatchback) or the Versa sedan. Both body styles share a 102.4-inch wheelbase, which is the distance between the front and rear axles and a key determinate in passenger room. It’s not a long wheelbase for a compact car, but both the Versa hatchback and sedan have a tall roof that makes possible comfortable, upright seating. The lineup continues with model designations that reflect their engine size. It starts off with the1.6 Base Sedan and the 1.6 Sedan. Next up are the1.8 S Sedan and 1.8 S Hatchback and the 1.8 SL Sedan and 1.8 SL Hatchback. The 1.8 SL Hatchback is considered the top-of-the-line model and it gets the biggest appearance changes for 2010. Like other 2010 Versas, the 1.8 SL Hatchback gets a new grille, but it’s complimented by fresh front and rear fascias, new body side sills, a rear spoiler, and standard front fog lamps. The 1.8 SL Hatchback is also available for the first time with 16-inch alloy wheels in place of the standard 15-inch alloys it shares with the 1.8 SL Sedan. All models also get reddish orange cabin illumination for 2010.
  •  The 2010 Nissan Versa doesn’t veer from its well-developed front-wheel-drive layout. This platform is sound enough to underpin the 2010 Nissan Cube, as well. Versa is a larger car than the Cube, though the two share a 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The Versa, however, is available with a smaller engine, a 107-horsepower 1.6-liter four that’s integral to holding down the cost of the Versa 1.6 Base Sedan and 1.6 Sedan models. The Versa and Hyundai Accent vie for title of lowest-priced new car in the U.S. Both come in well under $11,000, including destination fees. Versa is among the few compact cars with four available transmissions: manuals with five and six speeds, a four-speed automatic, and – exclusive to the 1.8 SL Hatchback -- a continuously variable transmission. Abbreviated as CVT, this type of transmission performs the task of an automatic but with a rheostat-like delivery of power rather than with a limited number of pre-set gear ratios. The intent is to more precisely match available engine power to demand, and the goal is better fuel economy.

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