By on April 20, 2011

We’ve been wondering whether Nissan would be bringing both a sedan version of its new Versa (sold abroad as the Nissan Sunny) and a hatchback version (sold abroad as the Tiida) to the US market, and now we know: The “Sunny” sedan will be sold here as the Versa sedan starting this summer as a 2012 model, while a hatchback version (possibly different than the Chinese version we’ve seen) is still a good year out.

Pricing will remain on the low end, with abase MSRP of $10,990, though interior volume is down slightly, from 94.7/17.8 (passenger/luggage) to 90/14.8 and its platform is 150 lbs lighter than its predecessor. The new 1.6 engine makes 109 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, returning 37/33 MPG with CVT, 27/36 with manual. And here’s the strange part: though Nissan refers to the Versa as a “compact,” a new Sentra is still planned for sometime in the next 18 months. Between a new Micra, the Versa sedan and hatches and a new Sentra to boot (not to mention the compact Leaf EV), Nissan seems to be going all-in on small cars.

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18 Comments on “New Nissan Versa: Sunny, With A Chance Of Hatchbacks...”

  • avatar

    Has there ever been a subcompact sedan that wasn’t butt-ugly?   Even Hyundai’s attractive “fluidic sculpture” loses a lot in the step down from Elantra to Accent.

  • avatar

    Is it an illusion, or is the front wheel well much higher than the rear? Makes the rear tire look smaller. Mega-weird. And unappealing.

  • avatar

    The Versa main selling point was its bigger interior space.
    Too bad it now lose its competitive edge.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed, the outgoing car is a Mid-Size car according to the EPA. Pretty big deal and that space amounted for a main reason why it’s sold so well.

      Another less talked about reason is the interior, particularly on SL trim Versa’s. Not only was the design astheticaly pleasing, but on SL trim Versa models, the dash and upper door trim are soft touch, complementing the padded cloth door insert and thickly padded armrest you’ll find on every current Versa trim. That SL interior IMO even beat’s Ford’s Fiesta in terms of materials quality (Fiesta is full of hard plastic, squishable dash be dammed) and this new one is nowhere near as high quality or cohesive. The whole thing is nothing but horrible hard plastic, it’s as if Nissan sniped 2011 Jetta engineers for the Versa. It’s a shame they had to take a step back here.

      What’ll be really interesting? The Versa Hatch. If the hatch remains based on the Tiida, then the interior should be top notch, with the same quality plastics people come to expect in Versa SL trim cars.

  • avatar

    It resembles a last-gen Elantra.  Not terrible, but not interesting.  Making the interior smaller is a bad mistake.

    EN: For some reason all the pics point to Scion stuff, not the Versa.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry, gallery freaked out. It should work now.
      I keep smelling Toyota Echo when I look at this thing. I probably should have mentioned in the post that the WSJ quotes Nissan Sales VP Al Castignetti saying
      Right now, Nissan’s hatchback Versa makes up the vast majority of sales. Mr. Castignetti said the new compact should help “balance” the mix. The redesign of the hatchback Versa is underway, he said.
      Nissan, it seems, is in a unique situation in the US market… it’s pushing sedans on customers who are currently choosing hatchbacks over sedans. Toyota thought Americans wouldn’t buy the Yaris so they put a trunk on it for the US, only to have it flop. A few years later, the Yaris came and sold more every year than the Echo had in its best year, more than doubling the Echo’s record in 2008. This Nissan even looks like an Echo. Will history repeat itself?

  • avatar

    In front of the B-pillar everything looks good.   The design goes downhill beginning at the rear door.. Towards the rear,  it resembles a Yaris 4 door sedan with a Dodge Avenger’ish side window treatment.  Maybe rear fender bulges would help.

    The interior looks heavily done in cheap plastic which attempts to look luxurious.

  • avatar

    The current Versa is nothing to write home about in the looks department either but it sells well. This sort of “conservative and basic” look seems to do well in this segment. The new Elantra looks sharp right now, but 5-10 years from now it will look very dated while the Versa will look just the same as the day it was purchased… basic and conservative.

  • avatar

    Erm Nissan,… companies were designing cars that looked like this 5-10 years ago, you obviously haven’t been keeping up with what the competition are doing. Unless this Versa is as cheap or cheaper than the last, I see them losing out to Hyundai.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    A second-rate car from a second-rate Japanese company. Reminds me of why Nissans suck.

  • avatar

    Ugly. I’d rather take a Fiesta or Fit if you can get one this summer – made in Japan. Nissan really needs to get with it brake-wise. Time for all wheel discs on our small cars Nissan. Take a cue from Ford & Hyundai who are likely gonna thrash you.

  • avatar

    It’s not horrible, but when I compare it to the Nissan Sentra SE I had in college, it pales.  That car, my little red coupe with black wanna be Recaros, leather wrapped wheel and shifter, nice stereo and a 5-speed mated to a free revving engine made it one of my favorite cars ever.  I even ended up regarding it more fondly than the MR-2 that replaced it.  If only I could have that car back today…

    That’s what’s missing from the the Nissan small car line-up.  IMHO.  But the Juke is very cool and so is the Cube.  The Z rocks. The Maxima and Altima are compelling. So all is hardly lost.  I just still find myself longing for the old Sentras.

  • avatar

    Why would they reduce the interior room, when that’s a big part of why the Versa sold so well? In a market very soon to be crowded again with small cars, they’re giving up their main advantage.

  • avatar

    You know, my first impression when looking at the car’s profile is: first generation Dodge/Plymouth Neon from the shape of the greenhouse. At least Nissan has the smarts to put in a divider bar in the back door to allow the rear window to roll down most if not all the way, unlike the Neon, which at opening only 1/3 like the roach-mobile 90’s era Caprices and Impalas, wasn’t worth the trouble.

    Why do I constantly harp on this subject? For the fact that a car, however it is styled, must still be functional. Opening windows are vital to me, that’s why I may never buy another coupe, 4-door only.

    Besides that, I think the car looks all right, but for me, I can’t get my arms around small cars when I can get a lot more metal for the money, fuel economy notwithstanding – the difference for the most part is not worth the sacrifice in utility. I’d rather have a Malibu, Fusion, Impala, 200, et al. I will say this, though: comparing to the Corolla vs. the Sentra rentals we had a few years ago, the Sentra won on all counts; comfort, style and “not ashamed to be seen in”. Not that the Corolla was ugly, the one we had was the epitome of “cheap” and the Sentra was a much fancier car. Both were adequate transportation.

  • avatar

    If they put the 1.6 DIG-T from the Juke in this they will have a winner.  That motor is great in the Juke, I can only imagine in a lighter car like this how much better it would be.

  • avatar

    This sedan version looks somewhat better than the current Versa sedan on sale in North America. Still frumpy, however. And it loses some of that legendary interior space? Bad move, IMO. Like others have said, this is what sold a lot of Versas. Maybe it’s Nissan trying to clear a space for a future Sentra redesign that will make it the crossover segment-buster the Versa used to be (compact outside, midsize inside), though that’s a lot of wishful thinking for Sentra fans and Nissan alike, if I’m honest.
    I don’t think foisting sedans on a public that clearly wants hatchbacks is a good idea, either. Maybe they’re hoping (but why?) that people will buy more sedans if they release the updated sedan first and delay release of the hatch. Does the hatch cost more to build or something? I mean, this is exactly what enthusiasts talk about but seldom do (“make it in a hatch, and I’ll buy it!”) Why would you try to push those avid fans of your hatchback Versa into a sedan instead, only to have them possibly disappointed with the whole affair?
    Application of the Juke’s 1.6 would be interesting, even without the turbo, but that engine probably would not looked upon so fondly by folks who had the first-gen Versa base engine, which was also a 1.6. They’d need to do some good marketing to make it clear this is a new (and much better) engine.

  • avatar

    Back again for more ewwwwll, dowdy little frump of a car. Can you see the driver enthusiast going for this? Ugly door mirrors with all that black plastic and that cheapo interior seems to lack a comfy centre armrest.

    A sound ladies commuter/grocery go getter that won’t see a Golf owner trading anytime soon. Still this little dowdy will doubtless prove very reliable, run for years without needing significant parts and won’t burn a hole in the pocket.

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