By on May 4, 2012

 

A few years ago I offered a strong thumbs up to the outgoing Nissan Versa. Plenty of room. A small touch of sportiness when it came with a hatchback. Good feature content. I even gave it kudos for offering a slightly frumpish French design that went far beyond the flying wedges and amorphous blobs of the time.

Times have changed. Small cars are starting to look good again. Thank God!

The 2012 Versa has been reviewed here, there and pretty much everywhere. A lot of auto journalists hate it with a passion that was once reserved for no hit wonders like the Saturn Ion and Suzuki Forenza.

Is it really that bad? American consumers are saying, “Hell no!” with sales up a stunning 30% from April 2011. At least from the sales numbers (8,300+ units last month and climbing) it looks like a car loaded with penurious plentitude is just what Dr. Recession ordered.  To help us out I have asked two completely fictional car experts, Jacque Hedonist & Stefan Frugalist, to help us figure this out.

Jacque: Are you kidding me? A Versa? What a rolling catastrophe! The engine has a nasty whining sound at anywhere above 2500 rpm’s. The CVT on it is nearly DOA. You step on the gas… and… it… thinks… about… it. The interior materials are somewhere between off-brand and Wal-Mart. How can any enthusiast recommend it with a clear conscience?

Stefan: Well I didn’t think it was that bad. Through 700 miles it got me over 40 mpg. The interior is low maintenance and easy to clean. The price is only about $15,500 MSRP which means that if I keep it for 12 years and 180k, I may be only looking at about $10 a day in long-term cost (assuming $4 a gallon gas). That to me is what counts and…

Jacque: Stop right there tightwad!  If you took out all the interior materials from the Nissan Versa and put it in a big pile, you know how much all that recycled Chinese plastic would cost?

Maybe three humdred dollars! I mean for the love of all that is sacred in the car world. Since when does an automaker get away with reshaping empty oil cans and have it pass as interior door panels?

Stefan: Since GM sold Cavaliers, Sunfires and Saturns? Since Ford sold Escorts and Focii? Since the Tercel, Yaris & Echo have been sold as entry level Toyotas for 30 odd years now? The truth is entry level new car buyers simply don’t give a flip about what they don’t touch. So long as it looks ‘nice’. The seats are comfortable enough for a long trip. The stereo works as advertised, and the features are loaded enough for the era. Consumers will buy it.

Jacque: I’m not sure about that. The MSRP on a comparable Hyundai Accent GLS is only about $800 more than the mid-level Versa. You’re meaning to tell me that buyers wouldn’t be willing to pay an extra $15 a month for a car that is better by nearly every yardstick of performance?

Stefan: Absolutely, and you know why? Space. It’s not only the final frontier when it comes to luxury cars. It’s what sells small budget cars as well. The United States is a country where the roads are either predominantly straight and narrow, or packed and clogged with too much traffic. Most buyers pay lip service to performance because they almost never use it. You give buyers a choice between 25 more horsepower and a segment up in interior space, and in nearly every case they will take the space.

The Versa is the market leader because it serves what customers want. The straight and narrow folks want a soft ride where there is enough space to stretch out and enjoy the scenery a bit. That’s why trucks and SUV’s have been all gussied up from their hard riding vinyl bench seat roots. Even many of the so-called enthusiasts among us look at transportation with degrees of luxury and convenience regardless of performance and utility… which is why large cars on the inside like the Versa sell in droves.

Jacque:   Sorry, but you’re completely wrong. The Versa is nothing more than a decontented legacy ride. The new Versa has more body lean around turns than anything else in it’s class by far. It has the cheapest interior this side of thick floor mats (which cost $170) and plain old thin carpets. The charcoal seat covers feel so loose that I’m sure one sharp misplaced object on it would render a nice rip that would spread like a virus. The cost containment has gone too far.

I remember a lot of cars in the past just like the Versa. The 1998 – 2002 Toyota Corolla was a cheap and miserable machine that was worse than it’s predecessor by nearly every measure. In today’s times market we have the Pilot, Civic, Sienna… all trying to make a cheaper product resemble a better one. The Versa is more of the same.

Stefan: Hmmm… well let’s say you get an entry level stickshift model for $11,000?

Jacque: Not for me.

Stefan: Which is exactly the point. The Versa is a good car for folks who are simply not into cars. They are too busy making mortgage payments, paying ever higher bills, and enjoying hobbies that don’t come with four wheels or five figures attached to them. It’s the perfect economical car for a troubled economic time.

Jacque: Nope, it’s the perfect excuse to buy a certified pre-owned Honda Fit that is around 4 years old and has 30k on it. Just like the so-called entry level Versa. Good luck finding either one these days.

Stefan: Too true. Oh well, I do think that the Versa embraces the economics of ownership quite well. Performance be damned. What do the Best & Brightest say? Would you still be willing to recommend a Versa to the masses who only look at cars as transportation? Should they opt for the sedan that sacrifices performance for fuel economy? The hatchback which packs more power. But dates all the way back to early 2006? Or go with another new or used car?

What says you?

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68 Comments on “Hedonist vs Frugalist: 2012 Nissan Versa...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is not a bad car, per se, but the old one (which is still sold as a hatchback) really is much better.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Exactly. The decontent job that Honda performed on the Civic has nothing on what Nissan did to the poor Versa.

      The old Versa, at least as a hatch, looked really good on the inside and outside. It had high-end switch gear, a clean, unified interior with cloth inserts in the doors and well executed silver trim, and the best exterior design of any b-segment car. Unlike other b-segment cars it actually had an exterior design.

      Now the exterior, instead of being crisp and clean, is blob-ish like the rest of the b-segment. The same with what used to be a crisp, clean interior. And the functionally the rear headroom on the sedan took a hit.

      Yet, despite all of the cheapening and decontenting, sales are up. Just like with the Civic. If I was in the market for a Versa or Civic I would have rushed to get a 2011, but for most buyers apparently “new” means “good”, even when it doesn’t. To buyers’ credit some of the year-over-year sales increase might have to do with supply constriction last year due to the tsunami.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Agreed. We almost bought a Versa hatch 5 years ago. Same roominess as this new one, but with much better interior materials. The richly padded door armrests were such a nice touch, one they completely removed. Only the poor fuel economy and first year teething issues popping up on internet forums kept us from it.

      I wouldn’t even consider this new one.

  • avatar

    Only problem with Versa is shape of roof in the back. I’m just 1,8m tall, but my head brushes against the ceiling. Galore of leg room but where’s the head room?

    Plus, the Versa costs down here more in the 25k to 30k dollar range. Here, we have better offers. Renault Logan and Chevy Cobalt (no relation to US model) come to mind. Same pricing or less, more internal space. Case of Cobalt, better interior even. Case of Logan more head room and plenty of leg room, plus more baggage friendly trunk shape.

    Steven, down here this is the it segment of the moment for middle class buyers. And it’s a step up from the regular fare!

  • avatar
    grzydj

    You got this as punishment, or perhaps a gift for not being invited to the Dart review?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    It all comes down to whether you want to spend your money on a mediocre NEW car like this one, or for the same funds you can buy a 2 yr old superior-in-every-way alternative. BTW the 98 to 02 Corolla has a better engine than its predecessor and rode quieter as well, Interior on the other hand was really crap!

    • 0 avatar
      MR2turbo4evr

      Are you and Steve confusing the 98-02 Corolla with the 03-08? The 98-02 has a nicer interior than the 93-97 model (with soft touch dash, etc) and drives better too. The 03-08 has a terrible interior (hard plastic dash and overall worse looking), however drives quite a bit better than the previous models.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Agreed. I think of Corolla and I think the late 90′s are the best FWD versions in style (well, if you can call a Corolla stylish), build quality, engine/tranny combos, and interior. I see 03 as a step backwards, 09 as a continuation of that, and the 11 refresh as a sad joke.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Gotta disagree with you. The 03-08 interior was very nice. The dash was hard but didn’t look it, with nice matte graining. Solid controls, nice fabrics. Apart from the Jetta and maybe 2007-2010 Elantra, I don’t think any compact car came close in interior quality.

        Even Car and Driver, which normally burns Toyotas at the stake at the slightest provocation, had very good things to say about that corolla:

        http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2003-toyota-corolla-le-page-1

        Now, if you want to gripe about the unsupportive front seats, wonky driving position, and fake wood trim on the LE models, I will be right there with you.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        I have a 98 and I have noticed lots of those, especially the low end VE version to have interior trims just fall apart, unglued, break off etc, a sure sign of poor quality materials, sloppily assembled and believe me mechanically you cannot ask for a better car at any price, the 92 to 97 don’t seem to have this issue.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I don’t have a problem with hard plastics in a cheap car. They hold up well and are easy to keep clean, and done right don’t have to look bad. Thin carpeting? Don’t care, my Element has addicted me to the joys of no carpeting, I’ll be putting in rubber floor mats any way.

    Just give me some padding in the arm rest and don’t cheap out on the seats, which it sounds like they have, unfortunately. Throw in the whiny motor and lazy CVT, and I’ll have to say no thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Agreed. I don’t get this latest outrage against hard plastic. What’s the problem? It’s not like you have to lay your head down on the hard plastic and sleep on it.
      Until the mid 60′s, most classic cars come with a hard STEEL dash. Soft touch my a$$. There are millions of Toyotas still on the road with hard plastic interiors. What’s the problem? Most car buyers care more about the functionality- how much storage space does it have? How useable is the glovebox etc. Storage space and passenger room sells cars.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The crappy plastic was a softball that reviewers who couldn’t or wouldn’t comment on reliability liked to use in lieu of commenting on, well, reliability.

        When you don’t need to make the payments nor foot the repair bills, it’s what you comment on.

        What those reviewers (and more than a few auto execs) didn’t understand is that the general public didn’t mind that, eg, the Corolla didn’t really have a better interior than a contemporary Cavalier**. What bothered most people about the Cavalier is that it would end up breaking down, at which point you couldn’t at least console yourself with a nice interior or decent ride like, eg, a VW or other European car. The crappy interior was just icing on the shitty mechanicals cake.

        Of course, the general public (or at least those members who aren’t on three-year leases) don’t exactly sing the praises of nicely trimmed cars that break down all the time. Auto scribes, though, almost never have to deal with those kinds of problems, and thusly plastic quality becomes more important than TCO.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        Don’t care about the plastic, but from reviews it sounds like the screaming engine / CVT combo would send me running out of the dealership after a test drive (and the EPA ratings, for whatever they’re worth, for the stick are mediocre.)

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        “Hard plastic” is an excellent indication that the reviewer is desperate to show his reviewing chops – which, of course, are best shown by how well you can pillory the car being reviewed. And the constant complaining about it is some of the biggest bullshit out there regarding car reviews.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Think forward. What’s is this Nissan going to look like in 3 years versus the competition and how will its resale value compare with let’s say a base Corolla?

  • avatar
    marc

    I would love to see the fleet/retail breakdown. The Raison D’Etre of the Versa seems to me: It is the Rental Counters’ dream. A car that they can pass off as 2 sizes bigger, because it’s so damn spacious. You know the routine. You ask for a mid sized, and they offer you a Corolla or a Focus. You ask for a compact, and you get an Accent. In this game, I can’t count the times I have been offered up a subcompact cheap s**t box Versa as an intermediate or midsized. Don’t walk away mad. Just walk away.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      I admittedly seldom rent cars but when I do I always reserve the smallest car I can get. Not once in the US have I gotten my small car. Including the time I reserved a sub compact in Denver and wound up with what was the only non SUV on the lot….a Dodge Magnum.

      So, just why is it that rental companies never supply what they promise?

      • 0 avatar
        potatobreath

        I think the rental companies offer more compact reservations as an opportunity for their staff to up-sell to customers and to draw in new customers. A car for $10-13 daily can look like a screaming deal compared to a daily bus pass. There’s only so much up-sell (insurance, GPS, baby seats, car up-size) the staff can do, so often the customer gets upgraded for free for a short term rental when the supply of small cars runs low.

        However, if you reserve a compact or economy car for two weeks or longer, then it’s likely you’ll get your compact car with no free upgrade. Some people try to game the system and do just that with a family of five plus luggage for a several week rental, but it’s almost certain there’s an Aveo waiting for them. Otherwise, the companies begin to lose money renting out bigger cars for compact price.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    When the time came to buy a new car, I bought a CPO Honda instead. I know and trust Hondas. My ’09 Civic may not have a limo-like back seat, but I have use of such a thing only 0.00001% of the time I’m driving.

    The Civic is visually more compact and its design is far less frumpy (it’s grown on me significantly since it’s introduction as a radical spaceship). I’d just feel silly driving around in the Nissan. It’s clearly for people who don’t really care what they drive as long as it delivers space and value for money.

    As an artist and designer (a segment of people who regularly straddle the hedonistic and frugalistic worlds) I put far more value into aesthetics inside and out and I want designers to care about how they’re designing something, and put their mark on it. I see no such care in the Versa, but I see quite a bit – for good or ill, mostly good, IMO – in the Civic.

    I see less in the new-for-2012 Civic, which is trying to follow Nissan’s lead. Honda should be leading, and in 2002 when the eighth-gen Civic was new, they were.

    Finally, my inner hedonist demanded a sunroof, something that would put any new car out of my price range thanks to the expense of option packages.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    Just absolutely not ever. I don’t know if the new Versa is built to the same quality standard as the old one, but if it is then I’ll pass on spending that much money for a recycled French beer can. Never have I been in such an insubstantial, sh*tty feeling car, and I hope to never again find myself in that situation.

    You can just get so much more car for that kind of money without sacrificing practicality or economy or reliability. Versa Hatch over this 11/10 times, and I HATE the Versa… But at least it’s a GOOD car. Yuck. Versa: lowest common denominator in this market. The Aspire of the late 2000′s. NO NO NO

    let me tell you how I really feel.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Opinions on style being what they are (just that…personal opinions)…I can’t help but think that this car already looks dated right out of the box. Yeah, it’s probably true that this is really a car for those that could care less about cars. It just seems that Nissan took a huge step backwards on this one.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The previous gen hatch is a more desirable car.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    “The Versa is a good car for folks who are simply not into cars.”

    Well said. Nissan seems to be a “safe choice”, they haven’t produced too many vehicles in the past that have p*ssed off the ownership base, their word of mouth ownership experience is quite respectable, dealers are found everywhere in the US, and those dealers don’t seem nearly as haughty as the Hon/Toy ones generally are.

    In other words, oatmeal is a fine breakfast choice for many.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, as the drag races used to say: “there’s no substitute for cubic inches.” In this case, cubic inches of passenger volume. So, if you buy cars the way my dad did until 1970 (when he ditched his 66 Chevy Biscayne for a Volvo), this is you car. I remember Dad saying, “why buy a small car for the same dollars, when you can get a big car?” By 1970 he had figured out that as a one-kid family (and with that kid halfway through college) we didn’t need something the size of a 1966 Chevrolet. So, he got something smaller, less ponderous, with much better seats and less thirsty (not that that mattered with 25 cent/gallon gasoline) that stopped more reliably and still was happy enough going 65-70 mph on the highway.

    So, if buy cars by the cubic inch, the maybe the Versa is your car. Having driven the Versa as a rental in Los Angeles, I found it seriously underpowered on the freeway — and our family vehicle is Honda Pilot — so my expectations about what are adequate acceleration capabilities are pretty modest.

    If someone is a on a Versa budget, I would seriously consider whether I needed that much space or could do with something a little smaller and quicker.

    FWIW and contrary to the wisdom offered here, I also rented a Nissan Sentra for a week and much prefer it to the Versa.

  • avatar
    MusicMachine

    For the same reasons the Geo/Chevy Metro is now practically a cult car, this car will be the answer to many consumer’s transportation dilemma. Hedonist vs Frugalist? You mean there’s no overlap between the two?

    Truth About THIS Car? It’s so easy for journalists to it around. It’s so much better than what 11 or 14k could buy in the past (save for inflation). There’s a reason why it feels like the cheepest car on the road–it’s b/c it is. But it still will be the best solution for thousands of owners.

  • avatar
    MusicMachine

    The Versa reminds me of my ’87 Sentra I purchased for $1,900 in ’96. Drove it ’till ’04. Sold it for $1,150. It went from 120k to 256k mi. Minimal repairs. 37 MPG.

    Currently I drive a ’97 Metro, 4 door, 4 cyl. 5 speed I purchased for $1700. CD player, power steering, air bags, AC. With 180k on the clock, it happily hauls wife and kids while averaging 38 MPG.

    The only thing better than a new Versa?? A USED one!

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I find the Geo Metro a fascinating car. When produced held up as a prime example of everything wrong with GM. The joke for GM dealers was Geo stood for, “Gross Equals Zero,” and just ripped to shreds in the press.

      Fifteen plus years later they have a huge cult following, have proven their detractors wrong in the reliability department, and compared to some B-segment offerings today are still comfortable, have a somewhat stylish design (for the segment) and get outstanding fuel economy. It does all of this without requiring modern design requirements like 18″ rims (and the $200 a corner tires that go with them) and critical, complex engineered systems done on the bare minimum budget to keep costs down.

      The Geo has proven out long term to be vastly better in its sum, than on its individual merits.

      • 0 avatar
        friedclams

        I dunno, I rented one in 1995 and it seemed horribly cheap and tinny, and was a chore to drive on the highway. I’d hate to own one, but as an expression of frugality it excels.

      • 0 avatar
        MusicMachine

        @ APaGttH: Well said. Sometimes a bastard child becomes an Archetype. Plus: 13″ tires are SO cheep. In this case, I think it’s easier to be a hedonist if one is frugal.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        As someone who owned a Metro back in the mid-90′s, for a commuter car, taken against the competition of the mid-90′s, it was a very nice automobile. And it did just what you’d expect of it for a nine grand price tag (that included every option available except automatic transmission). I’d love to find another one with under 50k on the clock.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Thumbs down. Value is relative and having the lowest price tag does not translate into offering the best value. The new Kia Rio & Hyundai Accent simply deliver more quality and fun for just a few dollars more.

    • 0 avatar
      supersleuth

      Until their intake valves are badly fouled at 50K. I don’t like complex, delicate new tech on econocars.

      Which is not to say that the Versa doesn’t sound like a horrible POS.

  • avatar
    NN

    Lots of space for the price, a very low price, and a respected import badge on the hood. Recipe for mucho success. This car could be worse than the Chevy Cavalier ever was but in the eyes of the majority of the public it’s a better car because it’s a Nissan, and Nissan hasn’t done as much historically to tarnish their brand as GM. Of course we could be in the early days of a brand tarnishing here…

    I don’t much like the Versa, but a more utilitarian wagon/hatchback with just a dash of style sold at this price point would appeal to me. If you could buy a Cube for $11k I’d love it. But maybe that’s too quirky for the masses…

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      When GM offers a bottom dollar turd such as the Sonic, the General gets crucified. When Nissan does it, it’s a smart decision to give the poor folks, a basic, no-frill econo-car that they can afford.

      • 0 avatar
        Botswana

        Interesting straw man. Someone else may have ripped the Sonic but not the person you replied to. Not sure I get the argument.

        Also, I don’t know about the Sonic, but I’ll never forget the Top Gear where they literally pulled pieces off an Aveo with their bare hands. Not just pulled like forcefully, but a gentle tug and pieces were falling off the car. It was incredibly bad. I think that was the point. Nissan generally protects their brand better than GM.

        That said, I am extremely leery of the Versa. I am not convinced that it will have the long term reliability of other cars in its class. If my car choices were limited to (and they’re not, thankfully) a Sonic or a Versa I would prefer the Sonic even though I like Nissan much more than GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        The Aveo is out of production. Can we please stop bitching about it now? We all know it was a failure. If you gotta bitch about GM, please limit your bitching to what they currently have in production. Keep it relevant.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      “If you could buy a Cube for $11k I’d love it.”

      If you could do that, we’d have two of them in our driveway instead of just one. The Cube still being built in Japan, with its wonky exchange rate not too favorable and all that, it’s really hard to get a dealer to let one go for less than $16,000 with any options. Cheapest base Cubes I’ve seen have been $14,500 with no options whatsoever. A Cube S will almost never be seen below $16,000. Ours was $15,990 before the tsunami and a lot of the Yen inflation.

      The new Versa sedan just doesn’t do it for me. I try to like it, but when I look past the bottom line value appeal of the thing, I just can’t. Almost every other car in its class is more appealing in ways that matter a lot unless you’re running a fleet. This Versa will do extremely well with rental and corporate fleets who used to stock a stack of Toyota Yaris sedans before those were discontinued.

      It will help if Nissan introduces the hatchback known as the Tiida everywhere else in the world to replace the aging 2006 hatch design. That car may end up looking kind of like a gas-powered Leaf, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, IMO. Hopefully they wise up and bring a sporty SE-R or SR version of the hatch, as well. This car desperately needs a sporty halo version to show folks that it’s possible to have fun in this car. Witness how many Juke haters on the social media sites hated the Juke but suddenly love the Juke-R, for an example of what I’m talking about. Autojournos won’t be turned on to the Versa unless and until it offers a sport-tuned version to get the blood flowing.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        I seem to remember that the five door Versa is schedule for replacement in the 2013 model year. I’m hoping it’s a nice as the current one was when new.

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    I think a big part of it is that it says “Nissan” on it rather than “Hyundai” or “Kia”. Despite the tremendous improvement that these two have made, their image is still a problem. Just like my old man who thinks GM is the worlds best automaker, a lot of folks think Hyundai/Kia makes cruddy cars for folks who can’t get decent financing. In time this will change. If they can get the acceptance of insecure folks as a non-embarrassing inexpensive car like the Japanese makes have, Hyundai and Kia will be raking in even more money than they do now.

    I looked at one of these while getting my Maxima serviced. For a entry level car, the space is great and the fit/finish is just fine for the money. I didn’t drive it, but I seriously doubt it’s that bad. Then again, I love the CVT in my Maxima, but every transmission is better with a 290HP engine attached to it.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Agreeed. There is still a large segment of the population who will not set foot in a Hyundai deaalership, even though the Hyundai Accent and Elantra, are clearly superior in every way to the Nissan Versa & Sentra.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Whatever its merits, I find this car’s looks revolting. They look even worse in person, cartoonish and tippy. For the money, a used Mazda3 or Civic is a better bet.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      For the money you could buy a brand new Kia Soul.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        +1

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        Had a Kia soul rental a few months ago. Nice vehicle, nothing else comes close for the price but found the same issues I have had with every Kia. Kia seems to have an issue with building cars to fit Americans. I’m a regular sized 5′ 11″ 180 lb guy, the seat was ok for a short trip, after an hour it was pretty bad because there isn’t enough room for legs to fully extend in the soul, put the seat all the way back and can barely reach the steering wheel/dash controls, still can’t fully extend legs. This may not be an issue for shorter people but would prevent me from owning one.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Mazda 3 and Hyundai have rewritten the books on “cartoonish”. When I think how clean and nice the Protege and original 3 used to look…
      A lot of lines going in different directions, or as in the Mazda 3 the back end of the horse first, does nor constitute good styling.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Well I understand that my cube is a versa under the skin and I think Stefan is right. I bought it to drive and it is a 2011 with 46kmiles. I hope it lasts as long as Stefan thinks.

    I have a 57 chevy to look at and polish if I choose. We bought the cube and the S10 to drive. Hope you guys all like your vehicles because I like mine.

    Dynamite article Steven. Btw, I am soliciting opinions as to how close the meaningful parts of my cube are to a versa. I am told they are about the same and I like what I hear.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      Our Cubes are the same as the previous-gen Versa underneath the pretty bits. This new Versa sedan rides on a different platform, which makes me wonder what’s going to become of the Cube when the Versa hatch is updated later this year. Nissan will probably use it as the perfect excuse to finally kill the Cube, the car they’ve never given its due marketing support because they can’t sell it at a high enough profit margin to justify importing it. Such a shame.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The automotive press said the Jetta was a decontented steaming pile of crap and a giant step backwards across the board. VW is enjoying huge sales.

    The automotive press guts the Camaro every chance as it get. A wallowing bloated overweight cave on wheels with a pitiful excuse for a back seat and trunk for a car so freakin’ heavy. Push rod V8, what is this 1960?!? You could cherry pick a month or two to counter the argument, but the Camaro outsells the Mustang, the Challenger, the Genesis coupe, the 370Z, and the defunct RX-8. Go figure.

    The Versa is a penalty box on wheels, and a giant step backwards from its previous generation. As noted, also top of its sales class.

    General Motors, Ford, and Chrsyler can’t build anything to save their freakin’ lives. Yet somehow the Silverado, Sierra, F-series, and Ram find their way on the top 20 list month after month year after year since — forever.

    Ya. Well American’s would buy minitrucks if they were just available. Sure they would – that’s why sales have been in steady decline for a decade and why basically EVERYONE has given up on compact pickups except Toyota, who has been making the best compact pickup truck since the beginning of time anyway.

    Maybe the automotive, ehem, “experts,” don’t really know what they are talking about to begin with (not a dig at TTAC – I hope skins are thicker than that). Because a lot of the wisdom I see and read – don’t add up when I look at the sales charts.

    With all that said, I wouldn’t own a current generation Versa if it was the last new car on earth. For $15K I’m going CPO used…something. Likely Korean or sub-luxury US (Lincoln/Buick). Jacque nailed one thing about US buyers. They do like r—o—o—m in a car.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      I had a rental mustang and my boss had a rental camaro on business about 6 months ago. I would take the mustang over the camaro anyday, the seats and interior on the camaro were awful. This is coming from a guy who loved his 1989 camaro.

  • avatar
    kenwood

    Steve,
    While on the subject of leetle sheet-boxes, can you comment on any prices you’ve seen (or paid) for Chevy Aveos versus their competition such as Versas, Yarii and Fits? Are the Aveos selling for substantially less that the better Asian cars? I’m going to be in a situation of an 8 mile stop-and-go commute for about 2 years and I want a little crapwagon that I don’t care about and can dispose of after two years.

  • avatar
    Dan

    If you refuse to consider a used car and your budget stops at whatever the payment is for $14,000 before taxes then yeah this is marginally more space for your money than a Yaris or a Mazda 2.

    If those are your choices then you already lost no matter which one you go for. $14,000 is real money. A new penalty box is still a penalty box.

  • avatar
    ltcmgm78

    We bought a 2012 Nissan Versa 1.8SL hatch and love it to death. It’s got tons of room for hauling things around. It’s no sports car, but I didn’t buy it for that purpose. This new Versa sedan’s styling really leaves me shaking my head. Two separate design teams designed the front and rear of the car without consulting with one another.

  • avatar
    mic

    I bought a 2010 Versa Hatch 6 speed new OTD for $13,200 and now have 40K on it. I like it better now than when I bought it. It passes on the freeway just fine when you downshift to 4th and floor it! Just keep the revs above 4k and its got plenty of punch! course your economy drops like a rock. Oil and tires have been the only expenses and I average 30 MPG. The new Versa is a little more meh factor.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    It’s easy to make a better car than the Versa when your base MSRP is 25% higher. I give Nissan major props for offering a low cost new car on the market instead of jacking the price up like everyone else. I’d rather have a Mazda 2, but there’s a 3 grand cost difference there that’s hard for me to justify.

  • avatar
    maxwell_2

    In all honesty this Jacques has no business talking cars, he’s really out of tune with business. I’ve had a close look at the interior of this little Versa, it’s no worse than a Corolla and a Corolla sells. Not seeing the purpose of a particular car model for what it represents is a diservice to the prospective buyer, want something sporty? Mazda makes the 3, but you will pay for it. Jacques, you’re in the wrong business!!!

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I actually had someone drive me around here in one of these. The back was huge for a vehicle this size. Much bigger than the taxis here in Shanghai.

    I was to put it mildly amazed. The car was quiet and composed in city traffic. For an urban commuter car you could do far worse than this I think.

    Sure it’s not a driver or enthusiast car, so what? It’s cheap gets great combined driving MPG and has a ton of room in it.

    this is just one vehicle that got me starting to think most automotive journalists have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to what the market wants.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      I’m not surprised you ran into one of these things in China – this car seems like it was made for emerging markets. Big comfy interior, and enough stuff to impress aspirational new middle class. They don’t care about decontenting or driving dynamics as they haven’t owned or driven that many other cars to compare it with.

      I would have a hard time recommending a car like this to anyone here though, as we have plenty of other, better choices…

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Any small car makes a decent urban commuter. Nearly every small car nowadays is roomy enough, quiet enough, and maneuverable enough to make it through a medium length stop & go commute. It’s a very low bar to have to clear.

      If you want a big backseat in a stipped car for less than $15K, the Versa is exceptional. If your criteria extends beyond that, there isn’t much to recommend this car.

  • avatar

    Chinese plastics may well be generally inferior but I think it’s wrong to just assume it.

    There’s better ways to China bash and if you don’t do it well it looks bad!

  • avatar
    Joss

    Had Versa hatch – now Sentra SER. Warmer weather I’m commuting Batavus uphill. A true masochist.

  • avatar
    amac

    Styling and interior are important to me, this car loses on both counts. This is one of the ugliest new cars I’ve seen lately. That sloping rear roofline is not attractive and the seats look like they came from my mother’s old Chevette. But if price is number one and buying used is not an option, then this is your kind of ride.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I would never buy it. Would I recommend it to someone, no, but I’d tell someone to drive it and see if it suited their tastes. Used car prices being what they are, it might be what they want. Then again, if you’re so cost conscious, the Hyundai is theoretically worth the slightly higher cost and smaller interior if only to get the better warranty.


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