By on August 7, 2019

Our weekly sojourn into the nation’s vehicular bargain bin sometime takes a turn towards the extreme (you know we’ll be featuring the 2020 Corvette soon enough) but, every now and then, your author comes to his senses and remembers what this post is supposed to be all about.

It’s supposed to be about cheap cars like the one you see before you, of course. For the new model year, Nissan has re-upped on its smallest sedan at a time when other manufacturers are running away from such machinery en masse. A base model still exists of course, so let’s find out what this brand is offering those who choose to sit in the cheap seats.

Called the S, the base model Versa is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission in the way that nature and Carlos Ghosn intended — well, before he got sent to the Big House, at least. Its starting MSRP is $14,730 and includes some surprising kit not generally found at this end of the price scale.

Lane departure warning? Standard. Automatic Emergency Braking? It’s there. Rear Automatic Braking? That’s on board, too. Your author remains agog that these features, once the domain of bucks-deluxe flagships, are now standard equipment on a sub-$15,000 econocar.

Electric Blue, shown here, is a no-charge option and is the sole color in which the Versa S is offered that is not on the greyscale. Mercifully, the sedan has ditched the Beirut Taxi look, donning a new corporate grille and a set of door handles that do not look like an afterthought. Tires measuring 195/65/15 can officially be classified as Sensible Shoes.

Its 1.6-liter four-banger making 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque is likely to be exciting only to those who think watching Larry King Live is high adventure, but it is perfectly serviceable in a car this size. A five-speed stick is on board, as mentioned, though those are still 8-inch drum brakes out back. Note well: your author’s largest coffee cup measures 5.5 inches.

Air conditioning is standard, along with power windows and remote keyless entry with push button ignition. It would appear the days of sweating to the oldies while manually cranking a side window are long gone from Nissan showrooms in America. The cloth driver’s seat manually adjusts six ways and the steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake. That’s a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen with all manner of CarPlay and Bluetooth, if you’re interested.

Nissan hopes you are, given the amount of R&D they just plowed into a low-margin product. Don’t worry: next week Ace of Base will take a turn back toward the extreme.

[Images: Nissan]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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22 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2020 Nissan Versa S...”

  • avatar

    The 2020 Nissan Versa: The Official Car of TTAC!
    (or so it seems this past week!)

    • 0 avatar

      The car has just been released, it’s being reviewed on all the automotive websites. A couple of weeks ago, on all the websites, it was Corvette Corvette Corvette. Before that… Supra Supra Supra. I actually like reading reviews on more attainable vehicles.

  • avatar

    I was given one as a rental some years bsck, and found to my surprise how well outfitted it was. Except for the engine, climbing the mountains in Utah was a bit of slow work. And the looks, homely enough for Little Abners mother.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. One of the ugliest, if not THE ugliest car in recent memory. Glad to see it go. This design looks much better (granted, the bar was pretty low to begin with).

  • avatar

    What RPM does this thing run at 75mph? I think I’d be willing to give up auto rear braking in exchange for a 6th gear.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Beranek

      This. I owned a ’07 Rabbit with the 5-banger and 5-speed, and it turned a tad over 3k at 80 mph. This made it, in my opinion, the best-ever small car for long Interstate blasts. 5-bangers are AWESOME on the highway.
      My ’04 Maxima with a 6-speed turned about the same, but the final drive ratio was a tire-shredding 4.38:1.
      I would imagine this Versa would turn at least 4k at 75 and even more at 80. Not a good car for my 1,000-mile days from Chicago to Laramie or Glendive.

  • avatar

    Got one as a rental once. The seats were so bad I traded it in on an FCA product. Penalty box. Buy a used Accord.

    • 0 avatar

      Commenting on the previous generation model is kind of pointless, don’t you think? This is not that car. You might as well be talking about an entirely different make/model. I got a Dodge Caliber as a rental once, it too was a penalty box—oh wait, that’s not this car either.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The manual transmission makes it more tolerable. For an econobox this is well equipped.

  • avatar

    Not bad. Good luck locating one with a stick but not bad.

    On the bright side it’s unlikely there will be much of a crowd lining up around one with 3 pedals so you might have some wiggle room.

  • avatar

    FIAT could salvage itself by bringing the Tipo here (sedan, hatch and wagon please), and selling it well equipped like the Versa for $14,999.

    • 0 avatar

      Fiat will forever be the Topo Gigio of the car industry ! The Burger King taco of the automotive world. Face it- Fiat is a lost cause in America. OK for Italy, but a no-go in the U.S. . Sorry, mjz

    • 0 avatar

      @mjz: That’s what several folks on here have mentioned. We would have to deal with Turkish assembly, but how bad can it be? Ford shifts a lot of the Transit Connect models and those are assembled in Turkey. I think they may even be assembled by Tofas (the Turkish car conglomerate) which also assembles the RAM(!) ProMaster City…

      The one thing that this version of the Versa brings is a sh!tload of technology. I think it will do well in the scraps of the sedan market. Other than that CVT…

  • avatar

    This isn’t a road test so I will reserve judgement, but the car looks good, the interior looks very good, and the price is right. As a former Nissan fan, I hope they got this one right like they used to get their cars right in the old days.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Probably a fine econobox. That said, I would buy a Kia/Hyundai product first. Koreans are ascendant while Nissan is in decline mode.

  • avatar

    Deal breakers (as in the old one) – only a 5 speed (not a 6 speed) manual and the rear seat does not fold down. Hopefully this one will do better in crash tests because the current model (before this redesign) is a very dangerous place to be in accidents that a Hyundai Elantra 2016 could handle. These are three points which had me choose the mentioned Hyundai and pay a $2k premium for doing so on the used car market. I have not regretted the choice at all. That Hyundai is simply amazing for the price. And it was so close to the Honduh and Toyoduh of the same vintage in overall execution that there was no reason to pay either’s substantial price tax.

  • avatar

    You had me at C-pillar.

  • avatar

    Nissan Versa…it’s a car! Wait…wrong company tag line. That said, I suppose it can be cheap as that is expected at this price point, but having been in a brand new top line Murano and Pathfinder, I really hope Nissan is improving the build quality of their offerings. Both the Murano and Pathfinder felt out of class (several classes, actually) cheap.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Can I get it with a manual that doesn’t feel like a fork in overcooked pasta and an SR20 motor so I can have a Nissan 4 that revs and makes power instead of the current millstone for a flywheel motors?

    This car with the right motor and some love to the suspension would make my list. As it is it makes my “book an early flight so I don’t get stuck with one at the rental counter” list as rentals will be cvt only affairs and as such will suck.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would not touch any Nissan with a CVT. The only way I would consider a Nissan would be with a manual transmission whether it be a 5 speed or a 6 speed and if I really wanted one I would find one with a manual even if I had to go across the country to find one–that is what the internet is for. Nissan CVTs are a time bomb on wheels and at 4k to 6k to replace the transmission with the same ticking time bomb makes Nissan automatics a nonstarter for me.

  • avatar

    I like the color anyway……

    What’s wrong with a Beirut taxi ? . I have one parked outside, it’s fine if noisy and slow….


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