Versa breaks the bonds of small car thinking
It may not possess the same visual impact as, say, a Mazda3 or Ford Focus but Nissan’s 2007 Versa is still a sharp little looker.
Although the base model Versa’s $14,498 starting price qualifies it as an ‘entry-level’ rival for the likes of the Chevrolet Aveo, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, Nissan says it’s no such thing in terms of its size, content, performance or quality.
It’s hard to argue with such logic. For instance, the Versa is appreciably bigger than its main market rivals.
At 2,600 mm (102.4 inches) it claims the longest wheelbase in its class and tops the others too in overall body length and height.
Those generous dimensions translate into class-leading interior volume, cargo space (with the rear seats folded), headroom and rear legroom.
The 1.8-litre engine pumps out 122 horsepower compared with the 103 to 110 hp output from its smaller-displacement competitors. And the Versa unit is a little gem. Smooth and free-revving, it propels the easy-riding Versa along with real brio via a standard 6-speed manual transmission - the only one in its class, as is the optionally available Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The latter is available on top-line 1.8 SL models while the base 1.8 S offers an optional 4-speed automatic transmission.
You can stretch out the fun even more, thanks to a 50-litre fuel tank in the Versa versus 45 litres in its competitors. And it comes with standard 15-inch wheels and tires where 14-inchers are the norm elsewhere.
The dash, instrumentation and trim treatment look, work and feel better than you’d expect in an entry-level car. There are lots of spots for bottles, cups and other family flotsam, while the seats are well finished and comfortably supportive. The amount of rear seat legroom is unusually generous in a car this size.
Highway cruising is pleasantly quiet as the engine revs are kept suitably low at typical highway speeds.
The hatchback body style offers great interior flexibility, assisted by split-fold rear seatbacks (no cushion tumble, though). A sedan version will appear in dealer showrooms next January.
The Versa comes in 1.8 S, 1.8 SL trim choices. Both offer a full complement of front, side and side-curtain airbags as standard, along with front-seat active head restraints. Anti-lock brakes are standard on the SL and available as $500 option on base models.
There’s also a $1,400 Value Package for the base 1.8 S which adds air conditioning, power locks and windows, keyless entry, rear door pockets and door armrest pads.
The 1.8 SL starts at $17,098 and opting for the CVT adds an additional $1,300. A $1,000 Technology Package brings Bluetooth phone system, a 280-watt Premium AM/FM in-dash 6-CD audio system, MP3 playback capability, auxiliary input jack, speed-sensitive volume control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in audio controls.
2007 Nissan Versa