For 2012, the big news the Nissan Versa is a completely redesigned Versa sedan. The car comes with a bargain $10,990 base price, making it one of the most inexpensive cars available. The Versa is by no means cheap, however. Even in that base trim level, the Versa sedan comes with air conditioning, six airbags and a bevy of electronic safety features. In keeping with the rest of the Nissan nomenclature, the Versa is offered in three trim levels: S, SV and SL.
A 109-hp 1.6L 4-cylinder engine is standard on all models. It replaces the 1.8L found in previous models. In the S it is mated to a 5-speed manual, while the other trims get Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission. The new sedan offers surprisingly spacious passenger room, with a usable backseat for adults and the trunk is large enough to accept plenty of suitcases, golf clubs, groceries and more. Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway with the manual transmission and 30 mpg city/38 mpg hwy with the CVT. The Versa hatchback is largely unchanged for 2012, and is still powered by the 1.8L engine.
The 2012 Nissan Versa offers exceptional value per dollar. No other car in the compact segment can match it for base price, as the S sedan slots in more than $3,000 less than much of the competition. Even the top-trim SL starts at $15,560. In the meantime, buyers get a lot of car, both in features and in spaciousness, which should satisfy budget-minded shoppers who still want to haul their family, friends and stuff around with them.
For 2012, Nissan has completely restyled its Versa sedan. Three trim levels are offered: S, SV and SL. All are powered by a new 109-hp 1.6L 4-cylinder with continuously variable valve timing. In the S, a 5-speed manual transmission puts power to the front wheels, while SV and SL cars are equipped with Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission. When so equipped, the Versa sedan delivers an EPA estimate 33 mpg combined fuel economy. Even the S offers enough features to keep drivers and passengers comfortable. These include halogen headlights, air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD stereo with two auxiliary audio inputs, power steering, trip computer, tilt steering wheel and a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat. In the SV, buyers will find power mirrors, locks and windows, with driver’s side 1-touch auto up/down, a tachometer and upgraded trip computer, a 4-speaker stereo, remote keyless entry, cruise control, premium cloth seating and various interior accents. Fifteen inch steel wheels are standard on the S and SV. The SL gets 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, variable-speed windshield wipers, passenger visor vanity mirror, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, silver and chrome interior accents, a premium four-speaker stereo with MP3/WMA CD playback and iPod interface, speed-sensitive volume control and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Packaged options for the Versa sedan included a Cruise Control Package for the S, a Convenience Package with Bluetooth and premium stereo for the SV and a Tech Package with navigation and XM satellite radio for the SL. Individual options are available across the model range and include things such as a rear spoiler, carpeted floor and trunk mats and special body and interior accents.
The Versa hatchback continues in 2012 in either S or SL trim, with power derived from a 122-hp 1.8L 4-cylinder. In the S, choose either a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic to put that power to the wheels, while Xtronic is the transmission of choice in the SL. The S offers a 4-speaker stereo, power mirrors, locks and windows, tilt steering, air conditioning, rear window wiper, suede/tricot cloth seating and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. In the SL you’ll find keyless entry, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded upholstery, special wood and aluminum inlays, a 6-speaker stereo, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Like all Nissans, the Versa does not scrimp on safety, and in addition to six airbags, the car offers anti-lock braking with electronic brake distribution, traction control and stability control.
The 1.6 Base model is only offered with a 5-speed manual transmission, and the top-of-the-line 1.8 SL comes only with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), Most of the other models come with the choice of a 6-speed manual gearbox or conventional 4-speed automatic.
A MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension, with stabilizer bars front and back, is tuned for a comfortable ride while also maintaining maneuverability. All Versas have a front disc, rear drum brake arrangement; anti-lock brakes are included with 1.8 models but optional on the 1.6. Hatchback models are a little more versatile, with seats that fold forward easily to expand cargo space; the back seats don’t fold in most Versas, but top SL sedans get a split-folding back seat and trunk pass-through.
With either engine, the Versa performs reasonably well; 1.6 models are considerably lighter, so they don’t feel any slower. The manual transmissions shift easily and smoothly, and as for automatics, shoppers should take both versions-the CVT along with the conventional 4-speed-out for a spin and decide which one they like best; the CVT allows faster acceleration and offers the best EPA ratings, at 28 mpg city, 34 highway, but invites more engine noise.
The 1.6 Base model is about as simple as new cars come today, with no power windows or locks, no air conditioning and no radio either. The upgraded standard 1.6 model adds air conditioning. Meanwhile 1.8 S models include a 4-speaker sound system, cargo area lamp and adjustable rear headrests. On 1.8 SL models, there’s a 180-watt sound system with iPod interface, cruise control, keyless entry, power locks and windows, larger alloy wheels and electronic stability control. All Versas get front side-impact airbags and full-length side-curtain bags. The Versa 1.8 can be equipped with a Bluetooth hands-free interface, XM Satellite Radio and the Intelligent Key entry and ignition system and a Navigation/Satellite package will add an in-dash navigation system with 5-inch screen, to arrive late in the model year.
The Chevrolet Spark minicar will be revealed at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show. The Spark was inspired by the Beat concept, which was one of three that made the auto show circuit starting in 2007. The Spark comes with a choice of either a 1.0 liter engine or a 1.2 liter engine and comes with electronic stability control and ABS. Inside, the five-door hatchback has a motorcycle inspires instrument cluster that combines analog and digital displays. The Spark will go on sale in Europe early 2010, and then will be available in other global markets.