Our Buy/Drive/Burn today is yet another reader suggested trio, this time from SoCalMikester. Mike wants to take a look a three quite affordable compact hatchbacks from 2007. Honda, Nissan, and Scion are all on offer today, but which one’s worth your limited number of 2007 dollars?
Imagine for a moment you’re not a well-heeled connoisseur of expensive cars and high finance, and there’s not a Bentley Mulsanne and a Land Cruiser in your garage. Instead, imagine you have to buy one of the three cheapest sedans on sale in America in 2021.
While public interest in crossovers has encouraged Nissan to rejigger its global offerings, the automaker has refused to abandon small sedans. It’s something we’ve seen across the board with Japanese automakers. As the crossover craze hit full swing, both Toyota and Honda said that abandoning entry-level automobiles might mean leaving first-time buyers behind. Despite crossovers bringing in more customers and money, small sedans and hatchbacks have a tendency to reel in new, young customers. Japanese brands sees the prospect of gaining life-long patrons as an advantage, especially as other automakers (*ahem, the Detroit Three*) shift away from such vehicles.
Nissan’s situation is more complicated. It can’t ignore its bottom line after last months’s dismal financial report, and rumors abound that it will soon begin to pair down its lineup. However, that will not involve culling its small-car offerings.
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.
Nissan’s Versa was previously known for one thing – being the cheapest car you could buy.
That will no longer be the case with the 2020 Nissan Versa.
An increase in price, however modest, should, in theory, correspond with an increase in quality and/or performance. The previous generation had little to recommend it beyond its bargain-basement price. Nissan is aiming to change that – the redesigned Versa will cost you more, but there’s improvement on offer.
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.
The first quarter of 2019 reflected a long-predicted cooling off of U.S. auto sales, with volume falling 2 percent. A few automakers bucked the trend, but the news was generally unpleasant. Of course, rising average transaction prices and a bevy of high-margin trucks, SUVs, and crossovers softened the blow for those who got their lineups in order ahead of time.
One segment that gets very little attention — for many reasons — is the lowest rung of all: subcompact cars, which traditionally provide a stepping stone for buyers just entering the market. Many journos bemoan the loss of low-priced cars, claiming relatively cash-strapped Millennials stand to be priced out of the new vehicle market by rising MSRPs and interest rates. It’s true — the herd is thinning, with the last quarter bringing about the death of the Chevrolet Cruze. (This writer actually bought one; the jury’s out if anyone else out there did.)
Still, despite the industry flux, some nameplates continue to earn the love of buyers who choose to spend as little as possible on a new car.
America's Subcompact Car Market Is Now Just Half the Size It Was Three Years Ago, and It's Falling Fast
America’s demand for subcompact cars tumbled 26 percent in 2018, yet another result that points to the eventual demise of all but a few B-segment cars.
2018’s sharp drop – equal to roughly 94,000 fewer sales in the core eight-car subcompact category – follows an equally harsh decline in 2017, when the segment lost more than 95,000 units. Led by a sharp reduction in sales of the top-selling Nissan Versa and year-over-year percentage declines of more than 29 per cent for the Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Prius C, and Toyota Yaris, the category’s volume has fallen 48 percent since 2014.
And before you say, “Well, cars are all unpopular these days,” keep 2018’s five million-plus car buyers in mind. Car buyers do, in fact, still exist.
But subcompact car buyers are disappearing much, much faster than car buyers at large. And it may well be because the product execution of subcompact cars is really rather poor.
Look, there are people who buy cars simply for transportation purposes. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, especially for folks like you and I who are of the opinion that a bright-green Dodge Demon is just the ticket for a daily office commute.
Small, largely style-free sedans have been the mainstay of the affordable end of the market for decades. Despite the wholesale abandonment of that segment by certain automakers, there are still plenty of players in the game. Call ‘em the Econ Majors.
Peaking sharply in 2015, domestic sales of Nissan’s Versa slipped as North America pivoted toward crossover vehicles. While that’s normally a shame, there isn’t a lot of praise to heap upon the model. But is certainly is cheap!
Upgraded in the middle of 2018 to include a standard rear-view camera, along with a 7.0-inch color touchscreen, audio streaming via Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, a USB connection, new speakers, and — get this — an auxiliary input, Nissan intends to further improve the model for with the SV Special Edition package. However, bargain hunters might rejoice, as the model’s overall pricing will enter 2019 nearly unchanged.
That’s $12,360 (plus a $895 destination fee) for what is inarguably a new car. Hardware includes a 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual, offering impressive fuel economy and absolutely nothing else.
America’s historic subcompact car segment leader, the Nissan Versa, suffered a sharp 22-percent U.S. sales decline in the first half of 2017.
In fact, total Versa sales plunged 45 percent in June 2017. The Versa remained America’s top-selling subcompact nameplate, and by a wide margin. Even in June, when Versa sales plunged by more than 6,500 units, Nissan still owned nearly a quarter of America’s subcompact market.
Nevertheless, it’s odd to see the segment leader, a car that was selling better than ever at this time last year, suddenly dropping like a stone, declining even more rapidly than the segment as a whole.
But after years of using the Nissan Versa as a tool for turning used car buyers into new car buyers, Nissan USA is scaling back factory support for the Versa in lieu of assisting Nissan dealers with their certified pre-owned efforts.
Michael Phelps has won more gold medals in the pool at the last four Summer Olympics than the whole Team Canada claimed, across all events, in the last seven.
Despite currently producing more total medals per capita than the American team in Rio, we Canadians can be found suffering from an inferiority complex. And yes, per capita medal counts are the kinds of statistics you can expect from the citizens of a nation that suffer from an inferiority complex.
It doesn’t help that Canada’s new vehicle market, one-ninth the size of the U.S. market, is deemed too small to benefit from one of the planet’s best sports sedan values, the Chevrolet SS.
Yet the Chevrolet SS is by no means the only new vehicle on sale in the United States that doesn’t cross the border.
Subcompact Cars Are Dying, Yet Nissan Is Selling Five-Year-Old Versas Like They're Crossovers or Something
Through the first-half of 2016, passenger car sales volume is down 8 percent in the United States.
It’s not quite that bad in the subcompact car category, but sharp declines from the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Toyota Prius C, Toyota Yaris, plus the disappearance of the Mazda2 pushed subcompact car volume down 6 percent.
Yet U.S. sales of the Nissan Versa are on the rise.
Not only are Nissan Versa sales on the rise, the Versa is consistently America’s top-selling subcompact car.
Not only are Versa sales rising now, Versa sales have been on the rise for the last seven years.
Nissan began selling the Micra in the northern part of North America at the end of April 2014. The Micra was properly available by summer, and over the last twelve months — through the end of June 2015 — 11,832 Micras were sold in Canada.
Could the Micra make it in America? Can we do anything other than report evidence which supports Nissan USA’s decision to leave the Micra to their neighbors in the north and south?
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