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Old 04-06-2011, 07:32 PM   #1
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2012 Nissan Versa

Here it is spied in China ahead of schedule. Technically, this is the Nissan Tiida (as it is called elsewhere) but the current generation Tiida is identical to the US spec Versa so it's assumed that our Versa will look the same for 2012.

Not too bad, but not as nice as some other 2012 offerings we've seen previewed. At least it's not ugly like many Nissans are becoming.

Interestingly, it looks reminiscent to the last gen Lexus RX in the front.

Edit: Just came across the rear end. I may have to take back the "not ugly" comment at least describing the rear.

Last edited by Kal-El; 04-06-2011 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 04-06-2011, 07:34 PM   #2
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I like the front end, but I still don't like the back. The tails are nice.

Looks more like a Matrix or Vibe. Or even kinda like a mini Rouge.
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Last edited by staticorex; 04-06-2011 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 04-06-2011, 07:39 PM   #3
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Atleast they threw in projectors...3rd generation Yaris in the world...and toyota is too cheap to even put in projectors~

The front looks alright....
Nissan's new style is rubbing on me, more so what they are offering than Toyota...And im excluding the Nissan Juke, because that is still ugly...
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Old 04-07-2011, 06:33 PM   #4
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Looks like it'll have less interior space to cram stuff in, compared to the current boxy Versa. Small rear hatch window... not a fan of reduced visibility.
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Old 04-08-2011, 08:47 AM   #5
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Nice front end! Lousy pooper scooper!

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Old 04-12-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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Reminds me of the 2012 Yaris/Vitz...a cross between that and the Saturn Astra

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Old 04-12-2011, 11:55 AM   #7
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These are all starting to look the same to me. *duck*
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Old 04-19-2011, 12:36 PM   #8
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Officially Revealed

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Old 04-20-2011, 01:53 PM   #9
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This is interesting. Completely different from the Tiida hatch which is presumably the Versa hatch.

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Old 04-20-2011, 02:08 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kal-El View Post
Sure looks a lot like a Mazda3 hatch.

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Old 04-20-2011, 02:38 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jason@SportsCar View Post
Sure looks a lot like a Mazda3 hatch.

It's like Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist - everyone has to produce the same thing, and it can't look TOO different or no-one might buy it. (except the Yaris, of course)

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Old 04-20-2011, 02:58 PM   #12
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tv has been advertising versa having 40 mpg what the hell what am i missing...
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by marcus View Post
tv has been advertising versa having 40 mpg what the hell what am i missing...
Maybe by Canadian ratings. The current Versa is only rated at 28/34 mpg highway.

This new 2012 earns a 40 mpg highway rating (EPA).
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:59 PM   #14
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It may look a bit like a Mazda 3 overall, but check out the front end comparison with Lexus.

The front end is 2nd generation Lexus RX.

And some Lexus IS

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Old 04-20-2011, 10:50 PM   #15
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2012 Nissan Versa Sedan – The "Big Small Car" Brings Innovation Within Reach

– Offers Mid-Size Vehicle Technology Without Mid-Size Price; High Value, High MPG and Exceptional Roominess Highlight Sophisticated All-New Sedan Design –

Small on the outside, big on the inside. Smart technology with next-generation efficiency. A $10,990 starting M.S.R.P. and low cost of ownership. New dual injector system and sub-planetary CVT design. Expected combined city/highway fuel economy of 33 miles per gallon. New global "V" (for Versatile) platform. Sophisticated styling, high quality interior.

There are myriad ways the all-new 2012 Nissan Versa Sedan breaks new ground for entry-level compact sedans. And many ways to sum them all up. But perhaps a simple statement is best: Innovation Within Reach.

"Compact cars are getting a lot of attention lately due to rising fuel costs and concerns about the environment. Yet many buyers are disappointed in what they find – vehicles rife with compromise," says Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. "This new Versa Sedan, a 'clean sheet' ground-up design, takes small cars in a whole new direction – proving that you don't have to sacrifice style for affordability, interior roominess for a smaller footprint, or drivability for high mpg."

Small When You Need It, Big Where You Want It
Knowing that entry-level vehicles are used as "workhorses" – for commuting on weekdays, errand running on weekends and transporting family and friends all week long – the designers of the new Versa Sedan sought to combine five-passenger practicality with a high degree of comfort and refinement. It also offers an unexpected level of available entertainment and connectivity features, such as Bluetooth®, navigation system with 5-inch touch-screen display, Satellite Radio and an iPod®/USB interface.

"We see buyers in this segment as people who are always busy, even while relaxing," explains Castignetti. "With the amount of time they typically spend in their vehicles, we want to make sure they feel good about their purchase long after the new car smell has worn off. So we invested in areas that they see and touch most – like available Fine Vision instrumentation, quality fabrics, bright trim work and comfortable seating for front and rear seat passengers."

The new Versa Sedan's interior volume of 90.0 cubic feet and trunk volume of 14.8 cubic feet (104.8 cubic feet total) are intended to not only look great on a specifications sheet – the passenger and cargo spaces have been configured for real-world use. Versa Sedan has, for example, more rear legroom than some mid-size sedans – trumping even luxury cars such as the Lexus LS460, BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. And the trunk design focuses on useable space, taking into consideration everything from the size of the hinges to the shape of the sidewalls. A 60/40-split fold-down rear seat is offered on SL models for even greater versatility.

Other available interior features include trip computer, power windows with driver's one-touch down, speed-sensing auto door locks, remote trunk release lever and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Two interior colors are available, Sandstone and Charcoal.

The Versa Sedan's new exterior design is also a departure from most current compact sedans, offering a fresh, refreshing design character that is both sophisticated and highly aerodynamic.

"The new Versa Sedan stands out as the only expensive looking car in the segment – with a lot of eye power," said Castignetti. "Its sculpted, dynamic proportions are modern without being gimmicky, projecting a much higher sense of design value than you might expect in a vehicle with a $10,990 starting M.S.R.P."

To achieve the new Versa Sedan's upscale look, the designers gave the exterior shape a strong sense of volume, with a wide shoulder width and a smooth silhouette. In front, Versa Sedan features Nissan's new signature sedan grille design and jewel-like headlights.

The front end blends smoothly into the cabin, which offers flowing curves, while design elements such as the shape of the trunklid help give the new Versa Sedan excellent aerodynamics, including a low coefficient of drag of just 0.31.

In addition, to help ensure superb functionality, fresh ideas were addressed in the initial stage between the designers and the engineering team. For example, the indented line in the middle of the Versa Sedan's sweeping roofline is not just a design feature, but a functional innovation that helps reduce the amplitude of the roof panel vibrations in order to create a quieter cabin interior without the use of reinforcement devices called "mass bumpers."

"Design and engineering came together in an extraordinary collaboration to create a level of sophistication that you not only see but also feel," adds Castignetti. "It helps provide a sense of 'modern value' that goes far beyond the mere purchase price, much like you expect from larger, more expensive sedans."

Other exterior features include a fixed roof antenna, body-color front and rear fascias and available chrome-accented grille, blacked-out B-pillar, chrome door handles and front fog lights.

The 2012 Versa Sedan is offered in eight exterior colors, including Metallic Blue, Blue Onyx, Super Black, Brilliant Silver, Magnetic Gray, Red Brick, Fresh Powder and Titanium – which has previously been reserved for the Nissan GT-R among Nissan models.

Next-Generation Efficiency and an All-New V Platform
One of the biggest challenges in designing a compact sedan, of course, is where to put everything – people, cargo, engine, transmission and other mechanical components. Often the solution is to gather a fraction of an inch here, a fraction there and hope they add up to a usable benefit. For the new Versa Sedan, the approach was a little more radical – create a totally new global platform and drivetrain, reducing the size of engine and transmission, reducing the number of component parts and reducing platform weight.

"It's unusual to develop a totally new platform for a vehicle in only its second generation, yet when driven by a culture of innovation, such investments are easy to make," explains Castignetti.

The 2012 Versa Sedan's all-new front-wheel drive global "V" platform, designated "V" for Versatile, utilizes nearly 20 percent fewer platform components and weighs around 150 pounds less than the previous "B" platform. While retaining the same 102.4-inch wheelbase and 66.7-inch width as the previous generation Versa Sedan, the new model is 1.2 inches lower in height (59.6 inches) and 0.6 inches shorter in overall length (175.4 inches). The biggest dimensional gain, however, is in the visible gain in trunk length – provided by a more compact engine/transmission design that allows for a 2.7-inch increase in rear overhang (the distance from the center of the rear tire to the rear bumper).

"The new Versa Sedan proves that when it comes to packaging and aerodynamic efficiency, not all small sedans are created equal," says Castignetti. "The same can be said of the engine, which beautifully balances excellent environmental performance, responsive power and smooth, quiet operation."

The second-generation 1.6-liter HR16DE 4-cylinder engine includes a range of cutting-edge technologies, making it one of the most advanced powerplants in class. For example, while the average engine uses only one injector per cylinder to inject fuel, the new Versa Sedan engine is equipped with two streamlined injectors mounted near the inlet valve for each cylinder. This dual injector system allows a wider injection of fuel, with the smaller nozzles delivering a finer spray (approximately 57 percent finer than the previous generation single injector design's particle size) to help achieve stable combustion.

The new compact, lighter weight engine also utilizes a twin Continuously Variable Timing Control (CVTC) system mounted on both intake and exhaust ports (versus conventional CVTC systems which are mounted only on the intake port), similar to the system used on the flagship Nissan Maxima. Using a CVTC on the outlet port increases thermal efficiency, decreases inhalation resistance and offers an approximate four percent improvement in fuel efficiency.

Other enhancements include the addition of a piston oiling jet, tuning of the piston top shape and expansion of the exhaust manifold diameter.

"To incorporate the new dual injector system into an entry-level vehicle is very fitting of Nissan's corporate philosophy of 'innovation for all' – bring advanced technology to high volume segments rather than saving them only for high-end machines," says Castignetti. "The new dual injector system also uses around half the amount of rare metals in the catalyzer by reducing the amount of unburned fuel and hydrocarbon emissions."

The new 1.6-liter engine is rated at 109 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm.

The Versa Sedan is available with a 5-speed manual transmission (1.6 S model only) and with a next-generation Xtronic CVT™ transmission. The CVT allows continuous change of the transmission gear ratio by connecting the two pulleys with a metallic belt and changing their diameter by using hydraulic pressure. The new CVT design adds an auxiliary gearbox using planetary gearing, helping improve efficiency.

The CVT also features a transmission ratio of 7.3:1, which is broader than those of conventional CVTs and even typical 7-speed automatic transmissions. Friction is reduced by about 30 percent, weight by about 13 percent and overall size by about 10 percent versus the previous Versa Sedan CVT design.

Versa also offers low rolling resistance P185/65R15 all-season tires with available 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

"The result of all these enhancements and advances is that the new Versa Sedan engine burns cleaner and uses less fuel, which combined with the improved CVT performance and better aerodynamics reduces overall fuel consumption by about five miles per gallon versus the 2011 Versa Sedan," says Castignetti. "Better mileage means fewer stops at the pump – and more 'room in the wallet' for other activities."

Fuel economy for the 2012 Versa Sedan is estimated at 30 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway and 33 mpg Combined with the CVT transmission (27/36/30 mpg with the 5-speed manual transmission) (preliminary estimates).

All 2012 Versa Sedans are equipped with an independent MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension, with front and rear stabilizer bars. Other standard equipment includes Electric Power Steering and power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes. An Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) is also standard on all Versa Sedan models.

In addition, the new Versa will be the first Nissan model in the United States branded with the PUREDRIVE™ designation. PUREDRIVE will be used on models utilizing Nissan's most advanced technologies to promote eco-friendly driving and lower CO2 emissions*.

Standard safety features found on every 2012 Versa Sedan include the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) (includes 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.

Additional safety features include standard LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system, child safety rear door locks, child seat upper tether anchors and Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS).

Summer 2011 On-Sale Date
The all-new 2012 Nissan Versa Sedan will be available in three well-equipped models when it goes on sale at Nissan dealers nationwide in summer 2011 – Versa Sedan 1.6 S (offered in 5MT and CVT versions), Versa Sedan 1.6 SV (CVT only) and Versa Sedan 1.6 SL (CVT only).

Along with the 1.6 S model's many standard features, the 1.6 SV adds cruise control, Fine Vision instrumentation, chrome grille accents, body-color dual power remote-controlled sideview mirrors, upgraded cloth seats, power windows and more.

Versa Sedan 1.6 SL models add 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lights, variable intermittent wipers, chromed inside door handles, 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, steering wheel audio controls, USB/iPod® connectivity, upgraded audio system, door-linked map lights and more.

Just three options packages are offered: the Cruise Control Package (1.6 S CVT only); the SV Convenience Package (1.6 SV only) with Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, upgraded audio, iPod® control, map lights and front passenger vanity mirror. The SL Tech Package (1.6 SL only) adds the Nissan Navigation System with XM NavTraffic® (XM® subscription required, sold separately) and 5-inch color touch-screen display and XM® Satellite Radio (XM® subscription required, sold separately).

The 2012 Versa Sedan will be manufactured at Nissan's Aguascalientes, Mexico assembly plant that also builds Nissan Sentra models for the United States market.

"This all-new Versa Sedan is a total value proposition," concludes Castignetti. "The Big Small Car is bringing Innovation Within Reach to an eagerly awaiting audience."
# # #

*Lower emissions compared to the MY '11 Versa and estimates for PUREDRIVE technology.

2012 Nissan Versa Sedan
Key Dimensions and Specifications

Engine: 1.6-liter 16-valve DOHC inline-4 cylinder with dual injector system and twin Continuous Valve Timing Control (CVTC), producing 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: 5-speed manual or second-generation Xtronic CVT™ with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and sub-planetary gear

Drive Configuration: Front engine/front-wheel drive

Platform: New global Nissan V-platform

Wheels/Tires: 15-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers, P185/65R15 all-season tires
Available 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels

Suspension: Independent strut front with stabilizer bar
Torsion beam rear axle with integrated stabilizer bar

Braking: Power-assisted vented front discs; rear drum brakes,
4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)

Steering: Electric power-assisted steering
Wheelbase: 102.4 inches
Length: 175.4 inches
Width: 66.7 inches
Height: 59.6 inches
Seating Capacity: 5 passengers
Interior Volume: 90.0 cubic feet
Trunk Volume: 14.8 cubic feet
Total Volume: 104.8 cubic feet

Exterior Design: Upscale design with strong sense of volume, shoulder and dimension; dynamic sedan shape with defined trunk; enhanced aerodynamics with 0.31 Cd; new Nissan signature front grille; multi-reflector halogen headlights; body-color front and rear fascias; available chrome accented grille, blacked-out B-pillar, chrome door handles, body-color dual power remote-controlled sideview mirrors, fog lights

Interior Design: High-quality look and feel; 5-passenger seating; comfortable rear seat with ample rear legroom and knee room; adjustable front bucket seats; fixed rear seatback with outboard adjustable head restraints; cloth seat trim; AM/FM/CD audio system, front door map pockets with bottle holder; dual front and rear cupholders; 12-volt power outlet

Available Interior Features Key-linked illuminated entry system; upgraded cloth seat trim; driver's seat lifter; Fine Vision instrumentation; upgraded trip computer; front and rear power windows with driver's one-touch down; speed-sensing auto door locks; cruise control; map lamp; remote trunk release; 60/40 split fold-down rear seat; upgraded AM/FM/CD audio system with 4 speakers; steering wheel audio controls; Nissan Navigation System with XM NavTraffic® (XM® subscription required, sold separately) and with 5-inch color touch-screen display; Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System; XM® Satellite Radio (XM® subscription required, sold separately); integrated Interface System for USB/iPod®

Select Safety and Security: Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual stage supplemental front air bags; seat-mounted driver and front passenger side-impact supplemental air bags; roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags; LATCH system; child safety rear door locks; Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS); Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS)

Estimated Fuel Economy: 30 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway, 33 mpg Combined (CVT) (Mfg. estimate)

Models: Available in Versa Sedan 1.6 S (M/T, CVT), Versa Sedan 1.6 SV (CVT) and Versa Sedan 1.6 SL (CVT)
More pics...

What's up with the SUV suspension lift?

Interior looks pretty cheap when compared to the new Accent or Fiesta.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:47 AM   #16
'07 to '12:2 wipers to 1?
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well thats the interior they use in the Cube, so cheap kinda runs through the smaller sizes in thier lineup
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Old 07-20-2011, 11:09 PM   #17
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Versa still lowest priced car in America - $10,995

By Jonathon Ramsey, Autoblog

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.

On our flight to Seattle, the seat next to us was occupied by a gentleman who works for travel portal During some final-approach jawboning, he mentioned Expedia's exclusive deal with Air Asia, the low-cost airline owned by the same Tony Fernandes funding Formula One's Lotus Racing team. Mr. Expedia called the airline "the Southwest Airlines of Asia," and explained how Fernandes was succeeding rather impressively by offering a feature-rich flying experience at a cost appreciably lower than that of his competitors. An Air Asia flight wouldn't be as luxurious as one enjoyed in British Airway's Business Club, but it would cost about half as much and you'd still get lie-flat beds, free meals and no baggage fees.

In what we can only call high coincidence, we soon discovered that the 2012 Nissan Versa is a ground-based version of the same philosophy: big feature set, small price and just enough polish to make it all okay.

Perhaps the most important feature of the new Versa is the one that isn't on the car: the $10,990 sticker price (plus $760 destination and handling) for the base Versa S sedan. At the time of writing, there's no new car in America that's less expensive – and we're avoiding the word "cheaper" on purpose. The least expensive Hyundai in the States is the $14,195 Accent, which means venerable Nissan is trumpeting the production of a car that's $3,200 less dear than a Hyundai. Yes, it's also less powerful, less stylish and gets slightly fewer highway miles per gallon (it gets the same combined mpg, though), but just to be safe, we'd advise you to look out your windows for the man who said he'd be coming on a white horse...

Admittedly, while that base Versa S does come with air-conditioning and a modest two-speaker AM/FM/CD/Aux stereo, it will also come with liberal use of your own hands to operate the five-speed transmission (the Accent manual comes with six cogs) and manual door locks and windows. Furthermore, the dashboard appears to have been designed by a Cyclops, with a centrally-placed speedometer and tiny digital readout the sole occupants of the recess behind the steering wheel. The only option is the exterior color. This is a vehicle that defines the word "base." Jump to the near-Accent-spec Versa SV with a CVT (no manual offered on the upper trims) and more electric gubbins in the cabin and you're at $14,560.

Still, $10,990 for transport with mod-cons to get you comfortably through a Midwestern summer brought to you by Heat Miser, as well as the same six airbags and four driving nannies (ABS, EBD, VDC, TCS) of the top trims, is a noteworthy balm for our Great Recession times.

The complete pricing story is a short one, with just three trims – Versa S, SV and SL – at four prices points. Add the Xtronic CVT and high-efficiency alternator to the S and the price climbs to $12,760, but you can add the option of a $350 Cruise Control package that also throws in two rear speakers, silver steering wheel accents and – wait for it – a trunk light. The SV begins at $14,560 and is differentiated from the S with chrome accents on the grille and door handles, a Fine Vision gauge cluster that includes a tach and an ancillary digital panel, and "upgraded seat cloth." The Cruise package is standard, and the single optional package is called Convenience, also $350, which adds Bluetooth, more audio options (iPod, MP3, SSV, RDS), steering wheel controls, map lights and vanity mirrors. The peak of Versa Mountain is occupied by the SL trim at $15,560, which comes with the Convenience pack, then swaps alloy wheels for the 15-inch steelies of the lower versions and adds front fog lights, a 60/40 split rear seat and chrome interior accents. The only place up from there is to grab the Tech Package and avail yourself of Nissan's low-cost navigation system, Satellite Radio with Nav Traffic and a USB port on the double-din head. Nissan expects the middle-child SV to be the most popular model – a maxed out version tallies $15,770 including destination.

There are eight exterior colors in the armory, but only two interior treatments: charcoal and sandstone. If you were wishing there were more menu items, Larry Dominique, the VP of product planning, said that "over time you'll see more features come into the set."

What do you get for those prices? "Spaciousness and value" were the first words off the lips of Rob Warren, in charge of marketing the new car, and "value and interior roominess" was the immediate answer offered by Mark Perry, Nissan's director of product planning. In print and in person, Nissan reps kept stressing that the Versa is "a real car," referring to its features and capability, not some Cro-Magnon jalopy spit out the back factory door. The 90 cubic feet of interior volume, a few molecules grander than the Accent sedan, is plenty of room for business and pleasure. With the driver's seat in our on-duty position, when we sat in the rear we found heaps of room between our knees and the seat back. Putting the passenger seat so far back that it almost felt like lounging, there was still almost five inches between the front seat-back and our knees when we sat in the back seats. The trunk is another healthy cavity, with 14.8 cubic feet to play with. We're told that if you put the rear seat down, the boot can swallow a bicycle.

Compare this Versa to the previous generation, though, and the 2012 is actually smaller: Nissan's site registers the 2011 sedan at 94.3 cubic feet of interior volume, with an inch more rear legroom and hip room, but an inch less rear shoulder room. Nissan boasts that the 2012 still owns best-in-class rear legroom.

In fact, the entire 2012 car is a fraction smaller than its 2011 counterpart. They share the same 102.4-inch wheelbase and 66.7-inch width, but the 2012 is 1.2 inches lower and 0.6 inches shorter. The body has been shifted back over that wheelbase, however, with the front overhang shrinking by about three inches, and an extra 2.7 inches placed behind the rear wheels to boost that cargo room. It's also lighter – the 2012 Versa sheds 150 pounds over its predecessor thanks to the new V Platform, which replaces the previous B Platform and has 20 percent fewer components – and incremental savings like lighter seats.

Perry said the shrinkage was made possible by the more compact engine and CVT. The second-generation, dual-injected 1.6-liter that will power all trims (the 1.8-liter engine has been nixed) is a new design that gets more horsepower but less torque than the 1.6 it replaces: 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet, a gain of two ponies and a loss of four pound-feet. Operating through the smaller, lighter, reduced-friction, second-generation CVT, it also gets better gas mileage, posting 30 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg combined. Not only is the combined number the same as that of the 40-highway-mpg Hyundai Accent, but it also matches the combined mpg of the Fiesta SFE. The five-speed manual returns 27 city, 36 highway, 30 combined.

How does she run? Fine. And that's not a tepid "fine," either – that's an all-in, right-down-the-middle, hardcore fine. The CVT doesn't call attention to itself, nor does the engine unless you request every horse in the corral, in which case it groans like angry cattle. But you won't need to do that often; even the vertiginous, slow-speed slopes of residential Seattle didn't get the 1.6-liter out of shape. The suspension has been redesigned, but it's still independent MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam in back with stabilizers all 'round. It's fine. Steering gets de rigueur electric assist. It's fine. The NVH is fine. You could drive it all day and get out in good sorts. The whole thing is perfectly... fine.

And that rounds out the $10,990 nuts and bolts of the 2012 Nissan Versa, which is really what this segment is about – a highly favorable dollar-per-function quotient. If you have a little bit of money, Nissan has a lot of car for you.

As to how it looks... well, the Versa's visuals are its only dramatic aspect. We're not talking about dramatic looks, but how people feel about how it looks. While other automakers are tarting things up, Nissan's extra helping of vanilla hasn't gone over with the vocal set. When the Versa was unveiled at the 2011 New York Auto Show, we asked Nissan's VP of corporate communications, David Reuter, about the styling. His answer was, "The Fiesta may have been getting the press, this is what was selling. We were up 20 percent last year. Our competitors have gone for sporty and styling, but that's not what these buyers want. Subcompact buyers want a dependable, roomy car with good fuel economy, and they want the features and specs to feel they spent a lot more on a car than they did." Fair enough.

We will give the exterior design higher marks than the 2011 model – the current-gen being a sedan version of the five-door that we called an "inoffensively styled Japanese hatchy thing." We're going to start handing out dimes every time we write this, but it does look better in person. The three-quarter-angle press photos make the rear end look tapered, like it's trying to hide its tail, but standing next to it reveals a simple, shouldered sedan, creased at the tips and smooth along the sides for efficient airflow. More mature and more sophisticated, yes and yes.

Inside, it's plastic fantastic. The steering wheel buttons are cute, the instrument panel has nice dimensionality and the range of plastic textures and tones shows some thought went into it. The controls are firm and solid. It has less style but more (praiseworthy) substance than the Fiat 500, even though the meager center console features look like flotsam in a plastic sea. Earlier, we avoided the word "cheaper" because nothing about the interior screams "We cut corners to make this happen." But, especially in the S, it does say 'really inexpensive' – probably because it is. The cabin doesn't move the needle, but there's nothing wrong with it. And did we mention there's a lotta room inside and it's a fine place to work?

Since the Versa is the runaway segment sales leader and Nissan hasn't been giving them away compared to the competition, we'll trust that Nissan knows what buyers want. And in the new Versa, the company has thoroughly delivered on all of the points Reuter outlined*. (*Reliability results to come.)

So it should be case closed, right?

It would be, except for the fact that the inexpensive subcompact forest has never been so lush in features, and frankly, never had any kind of style until now. The base 2012 Versa represents a 30-percent discount compared to a Hyundai Accent, but even Nissan believes the $14,560 SV will be the biggest mover, so we'll use that for comparison. A 2011 Ford Fiesta SE sedan rings up $14,500, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic sedan will start at $13,735 (note: we don't know how it will compare feature-wise) and the aforementioned Accent is $14,195. The competitors are packing more style, but elsewhere it's give-and-take when it comes to other considerations like interior room, power and gas mileage. On top of that, the new Toyota Yaris this way comes, Dodge is prepping a 40-mpg runabout and we have to assume the hottified 2012 Kia Rio will be priced to fight.

Can the Versa's clear, unadorned function beat those kinds of form? That's a huge question.

It won't take long to find out, with the 2012 Versa sedan going on sale this week. (If you're wondering about the hatch, the best we could get as to its arrival was that it will come "in the cadence of global launches.") And if at the end of 2012 the Versa still lords over the segment, then Nissan can assign another term to that V: "Vindication."

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Old 07-26-2011, 01:00 AM   #18
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My concern is why do all the forthcoming generations of vehicles get larger than the original?
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