By on April 13, 2019

Inmage: Nissan

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.

Image: Nissan

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.

Image: Nissan

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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35 Comments on “Hereditary: 2020 Nissan Versa Is Unmistakably Nissan, Less Entry-level Than Before...”


  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    I pity the credit cockroach that buys a CVT Versa as a 2nd hand Enterprise rental car from a national auto dealer chain on a 72 month payment plan to find out at 46K miles it has a dead CVT with the choice of a $4K repair bill, or scrapping a 3 year old car worth $500 with 5 years of payments still left. …..so sad, so very very sad.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Nice! Very impressive list of standard equipment and looks a lot better!

    • 0 avatar
      here4aSammich

      All that kit doesn’t come with a price leader number on the window sticker. Looks like it could be a passable daily commuter. But the base price is going to jump up to where the second lowest trim level on the current penalty box is.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    It does look better than the old Versa. A lot better. Power and torque are nothing to write home about but quite a few 1200cc Datsun’s from the 1970’s were quite lively and a blast to drive. With a manual transmission and all of the driver-assistance nannies turned off, a base version could be a fun second car or commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      It’ll come down to suspension tuning, but the basic design is off to a good start: tThis car is impressively light by 2019 standards, at 2474lb. That’s barely more than a Datsun 510 from four decades ago.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    so basically theres no need for the maxima or the sentra anymore? versa and altima seem to fit the bill

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Looks good. Maybe it will be on the candidate list for the next time we get a car.

  • avatar
    deanst

    How many other cars still have 5 speeds? Mirage, Spark, …. ?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Very good car for the price, the 5 speed is the only way to go if low cost of ownership is desired.

    Honestly I’d say this is the peak of FWD sedans, it’s not trying to be anything it’s not. This is the car that is meant to be an appliance and it will exceed every expectation given the 5 speed and cruise control.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    25 years ago one could get a Sentra (smallest Nissan available) with 200 fewer pounds and 18 more Horsepower. It handled as a bonus.

    Ah progress.

    And Gen X has moved past the penalty box phase of our lives. Make a hot variant with a stick and I’d be interested. As such I’ll keep scouring Bring a Trailer for that B13 SE-R.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      It had better visibility and cleaner styling, too. My first car was a 95 Sentra. Other than alternator failure after ~8 years, it had no problems in a decade or so of service. That includes its slushbox, which I doubt will be the case for this one’s CVT.

      Progress indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Progress also includes not folding up like a coke can in a wreck. Also, plenty of safety features to help save you in an accident, or to help you avoid one in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        quickson

        Yeah, our 90’s era Sentra would almost fold up like a Coke can in a strong breeze, and I think it had clear coat failure by year 4. BUT between the 4 (mom, dad, two brothers) of us piling on the miles while cycling every other car through the shop, it was a ridiculously reliable machine. It was almost zero fun, except for the fun of giving zero damns about it while getting 35+mpg.

      • 0 avatar
        Gedrven

        A-pillars the size of my leg are not conducive to avoiding accidents. Neither is the car stopping randomly on its own accord. I don’t know how much these apply to the Versa specifically, but the former is near-ubiquitous these days, and the latter is common to its Rogue stablemate.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I guess you’re right, if you’re only looking at half the equation.

          And, this isnt Ford we are talking about here, so how dare you blow a recall out of proportion and imply the company is incompetent because of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        That explains the weight, but the 1.6 is barely more powerful than the base 1.6 that was in that Sentra 30 years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          The EPA doesnt yet have this new Versa listed, but comparing a 2019 Versa 5 speed to a 1995 Sentra 5 speed, the fuel mileage is a wash, with the Versa barely edging out ahead by 1 mpg in the city and in the overall average. Comparing auto vs auto, the Versa would surely have the advantage.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      An interesting direct comparison, down in Mexico I got to ride in “Tsurus” and the current Versa back-to-back. Granted most of the Tsurus had more miles on them whereas the Versas were all pretty new. Versa has oodles more rear passenger space and is vastly more refined over cobblestone streets. So from a passenger’s perspective the Versa gets the easy win. But if I lived down there and could buy either car, from a driver’s perspective the Tsuru is the easy choice. If I had my family’s comfort and safety in mind, again the Versa is the easy go-to.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The sound system/ display, climate control and gear shift are oddly out of alignment -OCD people beware!

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    It’s as though a few years ago, someone at Nissan looked at the Leaf and Versa and said “why do these have to be hideous? Let’s fix that.” And the world is a very slightly better place for it.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      That’s a matter of opinion. I find all of Nissan’s current designs awful, by far the worst corporate design language. The old Leaf was unique and made you look at least middle-class, the current one just looks like a generic cheap econobox, and doesn’t present any advantage or selling points against a Bolt.

      This and the current Versa are both awful looking, and both are a big step down from the original 1st gen, judging by both looks and the opinions of owners.

  • avatar

    I boycott Nissan for 40+ years already for corruption and egregious human rights violations. But in any case – Versa s=is not my type of car esp if it looks like Maxima.

    Forget about versa – give me Mazda2 any day, let have a fun. Thank you.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I don’t love the Versa, but I respect it. It’s very popular among the working class around here, as well as the H1B visa set. Seems to be giving people good service as I know several people that have been driving them for years with little trouble.

    The new one is certainly better looking and I applaud any car to which “surprisingly roomy” applies. Sooooo many vehicles today are “surprisingly cramped” inside.

    Even if the base price goes up $1000, it’s still a value.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I like it. Manual too. SE-R version?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Well the good news is they could dust off the SR20DE blueprints from the original 30 years ago and it would still represent a performance improvement.

      The 188 HP 1.6T from the Sentra would make this a riot with the right suspension under it.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I don’t know what this says about me or the Versa but I view myself as a ‘car guy’ and I had no idea that the Versa is no longer available here in Canada. And it’s been gone for five years…

    I think this says more about the car than it does about me though.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    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.

  • avatar

    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.


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