Ace of Base: 2020 Nissan Versa S

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.

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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 I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.