The Nissan Versa is what it is. Now in its all new 2014 design, it represents the modern automobile at one of the most basic levels. It doesn’t make your pulse race when you look at it, the interior doesn’t make you feel in any way special, and driving it doesn’t make for any sort of occasion. It is surprisingly cheap, though, and that’s why the Versa has been selling rather well in the entry-level segment. It also gets two miles per gallon better than the Versas of a couple of years ago, bringing the highway fuel economy to the magic number of 40.
There isn’t a great deal more to go on about, but remember that even with plenty of options, our test car cost $17,000, and you can hardly get anything for that these days. The Versa is just an honest, unassuming car that covers all the basics without trying to be something it can’t be. It’s a car for a teenage driver, a daily driver to have in college, or a good all-rounder for the city.
Though it’s quite aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of .298, that doesn’t mean the Versa is much to look at. That said, it doesn’t look cheap or shoddy and at least the styling of the all new Note is way less bland than the car it replaces. Our test vehicle with the SV package had 15-inch steel wheels with full covers, and while you can have 16-inch alloy wheels as an option, they don’t do much and there doesn’t really seem to be a point. So while the outside won’t have us staring, the Versa personally impressed very much on the inside. This little car actually has more leg room than a lot of mid-size sedans, and a 60/40 split rear seat is standard, which makes moving some of your basic stuff a lot easier.
The SV, one of three packages and slated between the S and the SL, also gets you Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, chrome interior door handles and a driver’s seat armrest. Clearly, it’s all fairly basic stuff and sometimes you feel like you’re in a rental car, but again that price tag doesn’t leave too much room to complain. The fact that our Note SV was a hatchback was another plus, as it adds that much more interior space and makes even more sense for somebody like a college student. It’s actually shorter than the previous Versa hatchback, but somehow manages to have more interior space.
Powering the Versa is a 1.6 liter four-banger that makes a pedestrian 109 horsepower and 107 lb/ft of torque. This is a light car at 2,500 pounds, though, and it feels light. By modern standards it certainly is slow, but it could be kind of tossable to a degree if it weren’t for the CVT tranny. We just couldn’t get a feel for it, and with random little movements it would just downshift and go. Shifting itself was painfully slow. You can get the Versa with a five-speed manual (but only on the S model), so just go with that.
We don’t think the fuel gauge moved the entire time we had the Versa, so it looks like Nissan stuck to a rule that if it’s cheap to buy it might as well be cheap to run. Perfect for a teenage driver or university student, the Versa is a sensible car to buy, maintain and insure. It’s not a dream machine, but cars like this exist for a reason.