Nissan has a long history of building great economy cars, and now the torch has been passed to the latest Versa. The note is their five door model, which was new for 2014. This body style faces stiff competition from the likes of the Chevy Spark and Kia Soul just to name a few. We spent a week with this mighty mite and were thoroughly impressed with its abilities.
The appeal of the Versa is that Nissan still builds a regular car that isn’t overloaded with content. For the Spartan driver, it has 16” wheels, rear drum brakes and manual seats. This model is popular with Nissan fans worldwide, so it only makes sense to sell it here. In this case, less is more. The dash isn’t cluttered with a myriad of controls. Of the electronics, they are intuitive and not intrusive.
We were surprised at the quality of the audio system. It has Bluetooth, hands free texting, USB, Sirius and an auxiliary port. The four speakers are nothing to write home about, but we didn’t expect to find JBL or Bose onboard. A backup camera and the awesome Around View Monitor are integrated into the screen to give you a bird’s eye view of your surroundings while parking.
Interior panels are of a nice quality, and probably easy to keep clean. Seating position and visibility are great, and the beltline is not as tall as the competition’s. Storage is in abundance with the Divide-N-Hide floor boxes. Cup holders are in the right places, and the USB port is easily accessible. Rear seats fold flat to make for a very usable amount of cargo space. It would be perfect for college students making a move or for traveling salespeople.
Now we come to the details you’ve been waiting for. Nissan’s stalwart 1.6-liter four cylinder produces 109 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque and sips fuel very slowly. Mated to a CVT, it returns a city rating of 31 mpg and 40 on the highway. Driving the Versa is rewarding thanks to the miserly fuel usage. I won’t elaborate on the handling characteristics due to the nature of the car, but it does corner well thanks to chunky front and rear sway bars.
Pricing for the SL with Tech Package starts at $17,960. If you need a commuter for business that you can write off, or if your children are leaving for college, the Versa SL fits the bill.