Quick! What's the cheapest new car you can buy in the U.S. right now? No its not the Smart Fortwo, and its not a Kia Rio. We're talking about the new Nissan Versa. Taking the crown as the cheapest car in the U.S. The Versa is the only four-door sedan you can buy that starts well below $11,000. With rivals like Kia and Hyundai moving upmarket for few thousand more. Can Nissan provide a valid reason why basic transportation has a place in this competition? Let's find out.
Performance: There's only one engine and that's a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 109hp. Around town the Versa feels lively, however on the motorway you'll struggle to get up to pace. The CVT transmission makes the engine scream when revved hard. Only tradeoff is the high gas mileage that helps the Versa serve its purpose as a city car.
Ride & Handling: The Versa feels smooth and comfortable to drive around town. On the highway, you may struggle a little due to the small tires. However, most owners won't venture or try to push the Versa to its limits. This is a good thing because the Versa isn't the best handling of the bunch. But you do get brake assist and four-wheel anti-lock brakes to reduce braking distance.
Refinement: The Versa interior feels hushed and refined for the low asking price. There is some wind and road noise that will sneak into the cabin. It's far from intrusive and annoying. The CVT transmission makes the engine droand loudly when revved hard. This may make long journeys a bit tiresome.
Behind the wheel: The driving position can be a bit awkward for some. The steering wheel only adjust for height, which can be uncomfortable for passengers with short arms. The interior is has a logical layout with all the controls within easy reach of the drivers hand.
Space & Practicality: The Versa has a large roomy rear seat that can really rival larger sedans. There's plenty of space for three passengers. Headroom and legroom are superb for a car that carries the price of a used vehicle. The boot is massive and offers plenty of space.
Equipment: The base Vesra is pretty much a car. You get air-conditioning and very little else. You'll have to step up to the mid-range 1.6SV to get central locking, power windows and cruise control. Top of the range Versa adds Bluetooth, premium audio cd player and cloth door trim accent.
Buying & Owning: The Versa's low base price means that you won't have to pocket too much to buy one, and thanks to high fuel economy. Running costs will be low as well. Residual value won't be the greatest and resale value is about average.
Quality & Reliability: It's too soon to say if the Versa will be reliable in the long run. However, since the Versa is built by Nissan. Reliability should be trouble free for the mechanical parts. The quality of the interior is spotty. There are parts of the interior that feel cheap, but for the price you can't really expect anything special.
Safety & Security: Four-wheel anti-lock brakes and brake assist are both standard. Dynamic stability control and side curtian airbags are standard on all trim levels. Making the Versa one of the biggest bargains in terms of price. There are no deadlocks offered standard and an anti-theft alarm is not offered on the base trim level.
Likes: Low base price and low running costs, biggest rear seat and boot space in class, good amount of kit for the money.
Dislikes: Bland inside out, base trim can be seen as mean, nothing special other than a low price and roomy interior.
The Nissan Versa doesn't really offer much in terms of driving excitement, and that's okay. For the sole purpose of the Versa most buyers will be very satisfied. It may not be the most striking car to look at, and the interior isn't the most lavish. A basic transporation vehicle that can be used as a work horse. Low asking price with low running costs. A good vehicle but offers nothing special other than an attractive low price and roomy interior.
Devon's Pick: 1.6 SV trim adds power windows and door locks which are a few features that you'll want.