Hereditary: 2020 Nissan Versa Is Unmistakably Nissan, Less Entry-level Than Before

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
hereditary 2020 nissan versa is unmistakably nissan less entry level than before

Regardless of which angle it’s viewed from, Nissan’s next-generation Versa stands atop a box and screams “Nissan!” for all to hear. From the side, you’d be forgiven for thinking someone shrunk the Maxima. Looking at the upward-sweeping character line and upstairs/downstairs door handles, its identity could be that of the new Altima. Head-on, a pedestrian might think they were being run down by a Leaf.

Yes, the 2020 Versa keeps it in the family in terms of design, donning a corporate grille and styling flourishes borrowed from its larger siblings. Perusing the car’s specs, it seems that — flat-bottomed steering wheel aside — its mission hasn’t changed one iota.

Nissan sprung the 2020 Versa on an unsuspecting world at Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale late Friday, no doubt causing beachgoers to bolt from the surf like Amity Island residents in that scene from Jaws.

The new Versa rides atop the same V platform as before, but Nissan’s designers made sure it actually looked comfortable doing so. Gone are the awkward proportions of its predecessor, replaced by a body that’s “lower, wider and longer” than before. Nissan promises an unexpectedly roomy cabin and trunk, which happens to be the previous-gen Versa’s strong point. Power, of course, was not the old Versa’s strong point, and Nissan has made headway on that front, too.

No longer bearing a 1.6-liter engine making 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque (a trade-off to buying a car that stickers below $13k), the 2020 versa sees a slightly more potent 1.6L mill — this one making 122 hp and 114 lb-ft. Modest gains, for sure, but keep in mind the Kicks crossover makes do with 125 hp and 115 lb-ft.

Managing that newfound power is a standard five-speed manual (this could be the last time you hear such a phrase) or Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission.

Inside, a revamped interior sports a “Gliding Wing” dash design that aims to emphasize the cabin’s roominess. Nissan also said something about fostering a sense of togetherness, but honestly, the temperament of your passengers will dictate the prevailing mood in there.

While the previous Versa could boast of being the lowest-priced sedan on the market, Nissan isn’t giving away all the details just yet. All the company would say is that the new model will bear “a price fitting buyers in the segment.” More details will come at its New York Auto Show debut next week.

As it moves forward to capture a bevy of sedan-happy Gen-X, Millennial, and multicultural buyers (Nissan clearly did its demographic homework here), it won’t do it with a hatchback sibling in tow. The Versa Note is dead. Nor will the new Versa make an appearance north of the border — if Canadians want a really inexpensive Nissan, they still have access to the Micra. The Versa sedan bowed out of that market in 2014.

So just how much of a stripper is this thing, you ask? Thanks to economies of scale, few stripped-down vehicles really exist, and the Versa doesn’t fit the bill. Standard on the 2020 Versa are remote keyless entry, push-button ignition, and power windows, while safety features like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, lane departure warning, and high beam assist round out the list of standard content.

Those looking to spend more can add heated seats, automatic climate control, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suits of driver assist features (blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent cruise control, etc).

The 2020 Nissan Versa goes on sale this summer.

[Images: Nissan]

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  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Apr 15, 2019

    Same sausage, different length. From afar I'd have trouble distinguishing this from an Altima. At least it doesn't look like some weird french thing. As Top Gear once said about the Crossfire, this is uglier as an automatic.

  • Akear Akear on Apr 16, 2019

    Why does the Versa and Cadillac CT5 have the exact same rear pillar. Look at the way the rear window pinches up and then straightens up until it aligns with the rear window. The question now is who copied who.. Since it is Japanese and built by Nissan I am sure the Versa is a good car. What else can it be.

  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.
  • Ltcmgm78 A lot of dirt must turn before there's an EV in every driveway. There must be a national infrastructure plan written by other than politicians chasing votes. There must be reliable batteries that hopefully aren't sourced from strategic rivals. There must be a way to charge a lot of EVs. Toyota is wisely holding their water. There is a danger in urging unplanned and hasty moves away from ICE vehicles. Do we want to listen to unending speeches every election cycle that we are closer than we have ever been to 100% electrification and that voting for certain folks will make it happen faster? Picture every car in your town suddenly becoming all electric and a third of them need a charge or the driver will be late for work. This will take a lot of time and money.