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Nissan Versa Test Drive reports



  • wulfgarwulfgar Posts: 38
    ABS Package comes with ABS (obviously!), EBD (electronic brake force distribution) and BA (brake assist). And on the S model you have to first get the Power Package to get ABS. Probably what I will order if I pass on the silver S model hitting my dealership Tuesday.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Ok. Since ABS almost always includes EBD and often BA, I wasn't thinking of those features constituting a "package".

    Good luck ordering the Versa with ABS. That will be a test of how available that package really is.
  • bsbcbsbc Posts: 10
    Went to another dealer and drove the 6 speed S.

    Quick notes to add to my previous SL/CVT drive:
    1. The SL seats were definitely more plush but again, I'm having trouble finding $1300 worth of difference.
    2. I didn't notice the rev-hanging issue
    3. I didn't get to take it on the highway but I noticed the RPM were a little bit high for the corresponding gear. Maybe I was letting the above review influence me, I don't know. However, it didn't sound like the engine was working nearly as hard at those RPM as many other cars do. It was almost like it enjoyed the slightly higher RPM. Or it could be I'm completely crazy.
    4. The shifter is noisy. Not a transmission grind type of sound. Just a "thunk" of the shift lever hitting. It didn't bother me during the drive but it left me wondering if it was one of those sounds you just get used to or one that drives you nuts after a year.

    I drove my friends Kia Rio5 just about and hour and a half before driving this. They are definitely going after two different drivers. As has been said before, the Versa was no jack rabbit. It always felt well powered and responded well when pushed but it never gave you that pocket rocket feel. The Rio5 was much more "go-kart" like where the Versa was much more "big car" like. If you are after the driving experience then the Versa is not the car for you. The Versa seems designed at the commuter or family who want to get into a more fuel efficient vehicle but don't want to feel like they are riding around in a kleenex box.

    I asked the dealer about ABS and he said they aren't even able to order packages yet. He said they can trade with other dealers or can put in requests for colors but Nissan is more focused on getting inventory out to dealers for test drives. Special orders are taking second priority. Again, this is from the salesman. I don't know how true it is.

    Anyway, just thought I would report back in.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    I have the same thoughts about the "thunking" of the shifter. Personally I think it would bother me long-term, since I'd have to hear it dozens of times each day. It's the loudest noise I've ever heard from a modern car when shifted. I am wondering which engineer was in charge of the shifter. :confuse:

    So it looks like the CVT if I were to get a Versa. Problem with that is, I saw a SL model (the only one with CVT now) and with CVT and ABS the car would be around $16.5k. Pretty pricey for this class of car and getting very close to Rabbit/Mazda3s territory.
  • bsbcbsbc Posts: 10
    Exactly. I think the bang-for-the-buck factor goes down once you get into that territory. Personally, if I were up in that range I wouldn't think twice about getting a manual Civic LX or a manual Mazda3 (sedan obviously).

    That being said, I think the manual Versa S is still at the top of the list. The shifter didn't bother me that much.

  • bruneau1bruneau1 Posts: 468
    I drove the CVT model and was impressed with the powertrain performance. And it was not at all noisy on the freeway either in terms of engine or road noise. The interior is not as flexible as the Fit's, but i would pick the Versa over the Fit.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,590
    Kia is a bottom feeder car company, thier cars are cheap for what you get. I had a 06 RIO for a day when my Versa's windows were being tinted and man, what a crude car. Wind noise, was a roar, the engine was working much harder then my Versa, the ride was choppy. There is no way to compare the 2 cars. I couldn't wait to get my car back..

    The Versa was NEVER designed to be a sport car people... It was designed to be a very well made, larger on the inside then your tpical sub compact and at that the Versa does it well, and better then any other car in its class...

  • bsbcbsbc Posts: 10
    I agree completely about the Versa (not enough experience to comment about Kia).

    The thing I like is that styling (excluding wheels) is exactly the same between base and SL. Unlike the Fit where the ground effects on the sport really make it or break it IMO.

  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,590
    There is a sport package on the SL, which will give it a more sporty look, thats all it will do, again the Versa is not a sport sedan, the new Sentr SE-R will take care of that.

    Tony :shades:
  • alexk3alexk3 Posts: 1
    I test drove both the Versa 1.8SL CVT and 1.8S 6MT today. A few days ago I drove a A/T Honda Fit Sport.
    Before test driving today I was pretty sure I was going to buy a Versa with manual transmission (based on my internet reasearch). This is my unbiased opinion.
    People are saying the Versa is bigger, smoother, quieter than the Hinda Fit. I agree! It is a very nice car and you get a lot for your money with the 1.8S model. What I didn't like is the transmission and engine power band. First of all, the manual transmission is geared too high in first gear and too low in top gear. You would think that a 6 speed manual transmission would have a wide range of gearing... but alas Nissan has managed to screw that up. I was going 66 mph and revving 3000 rpms in 6th gear. Does that sound like "tall" gearing to you (the sales brochure says it has "tall" 6th gear gearing)? Also in first gear if you don't rev it way up before letting out the clutch, the car accelerates so slowly you think something is wrong with the car. Seriously, the 1.0L my '92 Geo Metro has way more low-end torque than this engine. I can't believe Nissan would put such a close-ratio 6 speed transmission into an economy car.
    The CVT transmission is much better but the car I test drove with CVT cost $3000 more than the manual trans model. The CVT model is still very slow off the line. Once you get over 15mph or so it moves pretty nicely.
    Overall I thought the Versa was much more refined than the Fit and felt like a more expensive car. I would be a proud owner right now if it wasn't for the stupid manual transmission gear ratios.
    For those that are wondering, the Versa uses a timing chain, not a belt like the Honda Fit. For me, a timing belt is a deal-breaker. I have once had a car self-destruct from a broken timing belt and they are expensive to replace. The Yaris also uses a chain (my next test drive)
  • wulfgarwulfgar Posts: 38
    A very fair report and I "tend" to agree on the 6-speed. The revs have yet to bother me at speed but my opinion is that Nissan did one of two things:
    A)Placed the gearing such that the engine stays in the meat of the torque curve at highway speeds (?). Better roll-on, I guess.
    B) Put a 6-speed in her just for the sake of marketing and didn't do much matching of the ratios.

    Like I said, hasn't been a problem for me but you wonder if it could get better gas mileage with relaxed gearing in 6th.

    The vehicle gives every impression of being a more expensive car compared to the competition. Not as sporty as some but that is not what my wife was looking for. And the timing chain/belt issue was a make or break issue for me, as well.

    Good luck in your next test drive!
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,590
    the CVT 'learns' how the driver drives. I really don't find much of a problem starting from a start with the CVT, it does take a while to get use to the CVT..

    I havent driven the 6 Spd Man, I need to take the car back to the dealer and have them install the X< sat link for me and while I'm there I'll see if the salesman well let me drive the 6 spd.

  • benduprebendupre Posts: 121
    You'd expect a 6th gear to overdrive wouldn't you?

    I drove the MT and CVT and couldn't beleive the difference. The 6 speed tached about 3500 at 75 while the CVT settles in at 2500. Going up a hill or touching the gass will see the tach spin up as high as 4000, but that's not as bad as dumping into 5th on the 6sp.

    The manual I drove also seem to race every time I put in the clutch, even with my foot all the way off the gas. Did anyone else notice this or was the model I drove defective?

    All in all I think NISSAN got the ratios all wrong on the 6 speed, but the CVT is great.

  • wulfgarwulfgar Posts: 38
    Apparently, the pre-production model's throttle "raced" a bit when one pressed the clutch in. Supposed to have been corrected when the production model appeared but a few people have reported the same occurrence as you. Ours sort of does this - not trying to sound wishy-washy but the flywheel feels really light and I think the slightest touch of the accelerator causes the sensation. Or it could be in the drive-by-wire - We'll know more after a few more weeks of acclimation.
  • benduprebendupre Posts: 121
    Without a hard linkage to the throttle plate it's either a software bug or servo lag. Engine compression is more than enough to immediately drop the rpm under 1000 with a closed throttle. Naturally it should at least be "on the way down" to catch up to the next gear when shifting. This is problem if not with all 6 speeds, certainly with the one I drove.

  • fit_nessfit_ness Posts: 58
    "the Versa uses a timing chain, not a belt like the Honda Fit."

    The Honda Fit uses a timing chain. It does not have a timing belt.

    Funny. I was here hoping the Versa had a "real" 6-speed with an extra tall sixth gear! I'm really scratching my head over the Nissan configurations available on the Versa. Get a sunroof, lose ABS. You MUST buy satellite to get a sunroof. Huh? Almost as crazy as making me drive around with the stupid low hanging plastic ground effects on a Fit to get cruise control! Have these Honda and Nissan guys lost their minds?

    My Fit has - shall we say - um, 'excellent engine braking' in fifth gear. The engine is rev happy and I've been getting 36 - 39 mpg, but it sure needs a sixth gear - and an armrest.
  • crimsonacrimsona Posts: 153
    As stated, the Fit uses a timing chain.

    Copied from my posting on fitfreak:
    Had the opportunity to test drive a SL CVT Versa last Sunday (with ABS Standard, no Bluetooth), here are some of my impressions (currently driving Fit Sport Auto 100% city):

    Versa is far more padded, and conforms to your body better than the Fit's. The cushions on the Fit are far more firm, which could be a good or bad thing. The Versa also has a height adjustment on the driver's front seat (Fit missing item #1)

    Passenger front seat is the most spacious compared to the Fit. Plenty of kneeroom and footroom. Headroom seems to be a bit less at all positions, but there is still plenty for me. Passenger side has a vanity mirror as well as the driver's side (Fit missing item #2)

    The back seat has the same material, but I think leans too far back, and the headrests were not really comfortable. There is supposedly 8 more inches of legroom, but this is mostly at your feet and not necessarily your knees. At the knee, there is maybe 3 inches more at my regular driving position. I am 5'9, and tend to sit pretty far back.

    There is a dead pedal on even the Automatic (Fit missing item #3).

    Front: Whoever was complaining about being unable to see the hood on the Fit won't like the Versa much either. From my position, I barely caught a glimpse of the hood, no more than what you can see in a 5 cent peepshow. Definately not useful enough to help with parking, etc.
    Rear: Worse than the Fit if the Fit's rear headrests are removed, better if the Fit headrests are there.

    CVT vs Conventional auto
    Hands down, CVT. With no shift points, the ride is far smoother with zero lurching around. Made me wish my Fit had CVT too. Vancouver is no San Fran, but there are still plenty of hills. Went up and down a few, no problems keeping up at all times. I'm quite confidant that CVT will replace conventional autos soon enough, including the 2008 Fit. It's already offered elsewhere in the world (even with paddle shifters!), and it's about time it came here. CVT offers equal or better fuel economy than a MANUAL gearbox, which is one of the major reasons people give for getting a stick.

    As the Fit is my first car that I've owned, I didn't have much experiance with the handling charectoristics of many other cars other than my instructor's Corolla. And after driving the Versa, it made me realize how much I've been taking the Fit's handling for granted. Steering feels much heavier than a Fit's, the brake pedal is harder to press, and the throttle response is a tad slower. The steering wheel itself is thicker while also being smaller (I think).

    I also have issues with the pedal placement - the Versa's brake and throttle pedals feel like they are on 2 different steps on a stairwell. I had to lift my foot quite a lot further than what I was used to.

    The Versa actually has padded surfaces on the doors and such, while the Fit just has the fabric to look like its padded.

    The drive cluster and controls on the Fit look far superior. By comparison, the Versa's one looked small and cheap. Usuable though.

    The Canadian Versa SL comes standard with carpet floor mats (Fit missing item #4) and a folding center armrest (Fit missing item #5)

    Cargo capacity is much weaker on the Versa. Whatever interior dimension figures are given on brochures are not reflective of the possibilities of storage with the seats folded down (not level with the trunk floor). I can't imagine trying to carrying a 32 inch TV in the Versa as easily as the Fit. There is a levelling shelf available for the JDM Tiida which is not available as an accessory here, but should be something that prospective buyers should consider getting.

    With the seats up, there seems to be more space behind the rear seats than the Fit (and comes with a hard cargo cover [Fit Missing Item #6]). The hatch opening, however, is abysmal. At the lowest point, it's a measly 28 inches, and gets larger as you go up. This means for wide boxes, you have to lift it higher before you can slide in in. I'm looking at 35 inches easy on the Fit.

    Even. 6 airbags on both, ABS on CANADIAN SL trim standard.

    Pricing, top line SL trim with CVT - Fit Sport Auto is $25,000 CAD after taxes :
    WITH technology package (Bluetooth, AUX jack, mp3 player, Rockford sound system with subwoofer, steering wheel controls): $1500 cheaper than a Canadian Fit Sport

    Without tech package: $2500 cheaper than CAD Fit Sport

    With Sport package (not available yet, unknown pricing). I'd expect a $1500 premium for the Sport package, which includes skirts, spoiler and SUNROOF. The Canadian VW Rabbit has sunroof as a $1400 option, so $1500 should be a decent ballpark figure. But even at $1500 for the Sport trim AND tech package, it will cost the same as a Fit Sport (but with a lot more features)

    The CAD Fit is definately overpriced by a good 1k at the least, especially if you consider all the junk you have to buy (cargo cover, gas cap, floor mats, center armrest)
  • barsonbarson Posts: 34
    As I posted elsewhere, I drove a Versa with a manual transmission today. I assume it was the S trim version. Shifting struck me as smooth and easy, gearing was similar to the motorcycle I drove for many years -- could hit 6th gear at 45 mph. However at 70 mph the engine was at 3100-3200 RPM, which seemed normal (my 16 year old Subaru wagon does 3000 RPM at 70 mph). Surprisingly quiet ride. Not as stiff as the Scion xA, but that's a matter of personal preference.

    How does one adjust the height of the driver's seat? I looked for a knob and couldn't find one. Is this only on the SL? I felt like I was too low because I couldn't see the hood.

    Lots of leg and head room for the driver (I am 5'9"); I was too far away from the pedals with the seat all the way back.

    The center console looked kind of ugly to me, especially the stereo controls -- a convex panel of flat buttons.
  • crimsonacrimsona Posts: 153
    I set the seat to max height and still couldn't see the hood. Get used to it, soon you won't be able to see the hood on any car. I can't see the hood on my Fit either. :P

    It's a huge lever on the right hand side, next to the handbrake. If you missed it, it might be SL trim only.
  • benduprebendupre Posts: 121
    Height adjustable seats come on the SL model. There's a lever on the inboard side of the seat. You pump it up and down like a barber's chair. I think you've got to be really short to want to pump up the seat though, it's so high to start with. I find myself wishing I could pump mine down a few notches.

This discussion has been closed.