Ace of Base: 2020 Nissan Versa S

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
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ace of base 2020 nissan versa s

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.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 22 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 07, 2019

    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.

  • -Nate -Nate on Aug 08, 2019

    I like the color anyway...... What's wrong with a Beirut taxi ? . I have one parked outside, it's fine if noisy and slow.... -Nate

  • 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
  • El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
  • RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.