All-new 2012 Versa sedan offers great value
By JOHN STEIN Automotive Editor August 2, 2012 4:22PM
2012 NISSAN VERSA SL
ENGINE: 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: continuously variable
DRIVETRAIN: front-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 30 city/38 highway
BASE PRICE: $15,560
AS TESTED: not available
The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan, which offers an expected five-passenger approach to overall size, delivers a surprising emphasis on comfort and refinement that is impressive inside and out.
From the outset, the Versa’s new exterior design is an obvious departure from the previous model (thankfully) and from most of the herd of compact sedans. Featuring a wider athletic stance and a longer, leaner silhouette, the 2012 Versa provides an increased feeling of volume.
This Versa provides a long list of standard features for this compact-sized sedan. On the subject of size, this Versa is based on Nissan’s global V platform. According to Nissan, it clearly makes a bold statement that style can be had with an affordable car.
From the sleek silhouette and roomy interior to a surprising level of entertainment features — including Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation system with 5-inch touch-screen display and satellite radio — the Versa proves to be a value that is hard to match in this class.
While the Versa five-door hatch is unchanged for 2012, the all-new sedan is offered in three trims: S, SV and SL. Sure to get everyone’s attention (it sure got mine) was Versa’s class-leading lowest-starting price at $10,990 for the base S. This is a great-looking sedan that boasts 30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined. It can also claim an equally impressive standard air conditioning.
Nissan clearly understands who its target customer is and the Versa is Nissan’s first U.S. car to feature Puredrive, a designation for Nissan models that use the most advanced eco-friendly driving technologies with lower CO2 emissions.
Under the hood of the Versa you will find an adept 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with sequential multipoint fuel injection that generates 109 horsepower at 6,000 rpm along with 107 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. The engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission that proved to be more than adequate during my weeklong test period. A five-speed manual gearbox is available only on the base S model. While the CVT can be added as an option in the base S model in place of the manual, all other models come only with the CVT.
While there are many things to tout in this Versa sedan, acceleration is not one of them. It is certainly fair to state that acceleration is not part of the DNA of most Versa consumers; they simply don’t expect it and would rather have the uptick on fuel economy. However, I found the Versa to be adequate for getting around town and only slightly sluggish jumping onto the highway from the entry ramps.
Available options include a cruise control package ($350), a convenience package ($350) and a tech package ($700) that includes a $400 navigation system with NavTraffic. My tester also featured some great-looking 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels and a 60/40-split fold-down rear-seat option.
With Versa prices ranging from the stunning entry-level $10,990 for the S with the manual transmission to the high-value $15,560 for the top-level SL model, the 2012 Nissan Versa should represent a genuinely practical sedan in anyone’s book.
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