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Nissan Versa Test Drive reports

SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
edited March 2014 in Nissan
Did you test drive the Versa? What did you think?


  • mpyoungmpyoung Posts: 2
    Test drove the CVT SL with convenience package tonight at the dealer! Very impressed overall. We like better than the FIT we recently test drove for the following reasons: bigger interior and more comfortable seats, seating position is better (feels taller), visibility is better, quieter ride, exterior is better looking (instead of the smaller wedge shaped Fit). Handles bumps better. Handling is close to the FIT, the Fit may handle turns a little better. Keyless entry option is cool, not offered on the FIT. So, overall we like it better than the FIT and will plan on purchasing one soon!
  • kc7kc7 Posts: 96
    If ONLY I got paid $50 for each person here that decided to buy a Versa ! Too bad it ain't happening !

    But I feel good that somebody feels the same way as I do about the Versa. I think this car will bring a lot of smiles to many people ! Versa buyers will realize they got so much BANG for their buck ! No, not bang, but a BIG BANG ! for their buck.

    Enjoy your car !
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 26,310
    got to sit in a Versa today at the local dealer. Found it in the back lot where they come off the truck. It happened to be unlocked so I played with it in private. It was an S model with only the power package added (guess that's about the only option anyway with a 6 speed.

    MSRP, incl splash guards and something else small, was ~14.1K. Lot of car for the money.

    As to the room question, yes, the leg room is fantastic. I had the front seat pushed back as far as I could and still reach the clutch and steering wheel (I would probably drive with it a little forward of that point, and I am 6'), and I couldn't come close to hitting the seatback with my knees when I sat behind myself.

    Actually, there was enough room for me to easily cross my legs, and lots of toe room, so overall a great place for adults. I also had enough head room to lease out the air rights.

    I happened to sit in a Lexus GS300 yesterday, and the Versa put it to shame room wise (head and leg).

    random notes:

    - you really need to get to the SL to get some key features, including height adjustible seat (although the fixed height was OK for me) and more importantly the big center armrest. Not to mentio the goody options like a sunroof and bluetooth.

    - seats were comfortable and quite wide, but the foam padding is a bit odd at first. I would really need to try an SL (height adjust and different fabric) on a drive to see how they worked out.

    - the cushion could be a little longer under the thighs, but I guess this is personal preference. I happen to have longish legs, and am very sensitive to thigh support, but I think it was probly acceptable.

    - Hatch areas is a decent size, and yes there is a step up when the back seat is folded, but it didn't look like a big deal to me, but YMMV.

    - 30/34 mpg ratings. Odd that the highway is so low, but it wouldn't surprise me if real world results beat that. My Accord is rated 34 highway also, and will do better if I behave.

    - it looks real cheesy in silver with black steel wheels (the hubcaps weren't on it yet). Good thing the SL comes with alloys!

    So, overall, an impressive package that should sell well. Of course, I would have to drive one to know if I could live with it.

    Oh, and it definitely seemed bigger than a Fit or Yaris. The Versa seems more like a Civic class car. Maybe the Faris is a "B' class, and the Veriber is a "B+"?

    2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    Another option available on the S is ABS. Did this car have it? I am wondering how easy it will be to get an S model with ABS. It's pretty hard to do on the Yaris.

    I am encouraged that you are 6' and found the driver's seat to be OK even without the height adjuster. Frequently I find lack of thigh support in cars w/o the height adjuster.

    It does seem odd that a 6-speed with a 1.8L engine is rated only 34 mpg on the highway.

    I agree the Versa is more a compact-class car. There are compact hatchbacks, e.g. the Reno, that are about the same size as the Versa. The Versa is about a foot longer than the Fit and the Yaris hatch. In fact I wonder how many Sentras Nissa will sell, given the Versa is so roomy (and versatile, with the hatch) for less money.
  • Quieter? Don't think so. Exterior better looking? No way, the Fit looks way better. Handling not even close to Fits according to reviews and my personal experience. Also number one reason to buy Fit: "Made in Japan".
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    My dealership just got a S with power package and stick.

    Just a few quick notes, I totally disagree with some of the reviews that bash the power steering. I felt plenty of feedback but the effort is a little light for my taste. Not unacceptable by any means.

    I also disagree with the "rubbery feel" of the stick. I found it to be quite the opposite and on the notchy side.

    The thing that impressed me most was the engine. How quiet it is even when you are at full throttle. It just loves to rev and didn't get thrashy at all.

    Visability was just great.

    Seats were definately way more comfortable than you would expect in this type of car.

    Ride quality was good. Handling was slightly on the mushy side/comfort side. Not sure if the alloys would correct this.

    The main thing is that when you sit in the car you feel that you are in a REAL car and not a toy.

    I find the FIT to be really off putting visually. The wheels are just way to small compared to the profile of the car.

    I hope lots of people who are considering a used car will give the Versa a look.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    According to C/D's instrumented tests, the Versa (stick) is quieter than the Fit at full throttle and also at 70 mph cruise, and the same noise level at idle.

    Looks are subjective.

    Reviews give Fit the nod in handling but typically state that the Versa has an excellent blend of ride and handling.
  • pdxtauruspdxtaurus Posts: 16
    So I just test-drove a Versa, and it was NICE. But I'll be buying a different car.

    It's big need to sit in it to feel the difference between it and, say, a Fit or Sentra. Very comfortable.

    On the test drive, I noticed a sporty feel and smooth drivetrain. The manual shifted nicely. Not too much road noise.

    My only complaint is the cargo area...yes, I do carry large objects on a semi-regular basis (current car: Taurus wagon...don't need quite that much car, but it does come in handy). IMHO, the car should come with a removable box or something to make the cargo area flat. It would create a convenient storage area for whatever you want to keep out-of-sight as well.

    The reason I'm getting a different car is price. Like the Fit, the Versa is new enough and desired enough that the dealerships aren't going to cut a big price break. In fact, their attitude was "if you're willing to wait, we'll cut you a deal at only $1000 OVER MSRP." I can't say I blame them, but it does direct me to other, 2006, alternatives.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    $1000+ over MSRP is hilarious. That puts a Versa S with stick, power package and ABS over $15k. That's more than the Fit with similar equipment and only a few hundred less than a Rabbit 3-door. I think you will see prices come down to reality once the Versa starts arriving at dealers en masse.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,962
    Just got back from my dealer, where they had taken their first two Versas off the truck about an hour before. Going to take a test drive in a day or so, but finally got to crawl around inside one.

    I'm VERY impressed with the interior size. With the driver's seat all the way back, I'd estimate I have at least 3" more legroom behind the wheel than I do in my current Sentra, and my 6' tall daughter still had more room in the rear seat behind me than she does inthe Sentra. The tradeoff is in trunk space, but I expected that.

    The doors and access to the interior are huge. Thre are certainly some boxes that would not fit in through the rear door of my Sentra that will slip into the rear seat of the Versa. Everything sounded very solid as well.

    I'm interested in the 6 speed (actually, the wife and daughter INSIST on a stick). The one I looked at had the power package, but not the ABS and the sticker was around $13,800.

    My only other look at the car had been at the Philly Auto Show, but that was up on a rotating platform, so we couldn't get especially close. I'm liking what I see, and I think the price point is going to help sell a fair number of them.

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  • bsbcbsbc Posts: 10
    Hi all. I'm new here and am taking my time looking for a new car.

    I went to my local dealership yesterday and saw/sat in both the S and the SL. I drove the SL w/ CVT since it was actually outside and not on the showroom.

    My initial impressions:
    1. It defies logic how large the rear passenger area is.
    2. I'm finding it hard to justify the SL over the S (w/ the Power package) for an extra $1300.
    3. The interior of the SL looks nicer but is VERY soft and foam-like. It made me wonder how well it would hold up.
    4. The interior of the S was like a matted down suede but felt more durable than the SL.
    5. The door mounted arm rest was very soft in both and made me wonder about durability.

    Driving is where it impressed me most.
    1. Not too much road noise
    2. Brakes were very responsive (no ABS)
    3. Never felt underpowered.
    4. CVT was a bit odd to listen to in stop and go traffic but performed well
    5. A/C blew well in 95 degree heat (for all those Mazda3 guys)
    6. Down a entrance ramp to the interstate I never heard the CVT and the Versa was completely capable of merging and driving with 70MPH traffic.

    Final impression was I liked it a lot. I'm not real sure if I can justify the SL though. I might as well spend less and accept that it is in fact an economy car. The biggest problem I have with paying for the SL is that for about $1500 more than the SL I can get a Civic LX (Buying price) and not feel like I'm in an economy car. I think I would rather buy the S w/ power package, buy aftermarket wheels for $500 and call it good.

    Gotta go but if I remember more I'll put it down for you.

  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 2,084
    Regarding the "form" seats in the SL, they are made from Tempipdic form the same stuff the beds are made of, so durablity isn't an issue. There are other things to look at between the S-SL thing when looking at the price. The SL gets a 6 disk indash changer, the S gets a single disk. The radio on the SL is a far better unit then the S. Alloy wheels are standard on the SL, can't get them on the S. Cruise Control is standard on the SL, cant get it on the S.
    BTW, a good set of rims and tires for the S will run more then $500, more like $700...

    Yes the CVT does get some getting use to, but I really like it..

    Tony :shades:
  • bsbcbsbc Posts: 10
    I forgot about tires with the wheels so you are probably right with $700. And yes, the seats in the SL were very comfortable but when I looked down at the seat when a 6'-225# salesman sat down it bulged out like a tube of toothpaste. Maybe I should trust the strength of the fabric more. I usually go into these test drives with a critical mindset.

    That being said, I still don't really see much reason (for me) to spring for the SL. That is more of a compliment to the S than a knock on the SL. Yes, I will readily admit that the SL looks nicer and has obvious upgrades but my point was that the S is a solid, budget-minded choice.

    6 disc changer isn't a big deal when you use an ipod and a radio transmitter. The only thing on the upgraded radio that intrests me is the aux jack and there are ways around that. Cruise isn't a big deal for my commute (especially with a stick). Wheels are nice but not necessary and easily replaced aftermarket. To be honest, the thing I miss most is the center arm rest and that sure isn't worth $1300.

    I haven't quite decided yet as I am still waiting on my '95 Mercury Mystique to die (but it's real close). I think the Nissan is priced to sell and both the S and the SL are great.

    BTW Be sure to update us on your mileage. Thanks!

  • jbmeehanjbmeehan Posts: 5
    I also noticed it was an additional $1500 just to go up to the SL. I am going to wait until the CVT is available on the base Versa.

    Do you know the best site for aftermarket products for the Versa? I'm looking for running lights. I think they are an important safety feature.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    I finally got to drive the new Versa today, a S model with the 6-speed, convenience package, and mats--sticker $13.9k. It was the only stick they had. They also had two SLs with the CVT. I sat in one of those to check out the upgrades and the seating position with the height adjuster--more on that later. The SL with CVT and convenience package (Bluetooth, Intelligent key etc.) was $16.9k.

    From the outside, the fire-engine-red Versa looked rather sporty, with decent-looking plastic wheel covers. The rear hatch lifts to reveal a sizable luggage space, but the cargo cover is rather odd--the back half is rigid and lifts with the hatch, the front half is two flaps of thin fabric. That leaves me to believe that the rear seat reclines, but I didn't check that out. The rear seat backs fold flat on top of the rear seat bottom, creating a platform that is about 8" higher than the rear storage compartment. The step-up is taller than I thought it would be, and I can see how that would be a deal-breaker for folks who will frequently haul a lot of cargo.

    The interior room, as many have noted, is a strong suit of the Versa. With the driver's seat set for my 5'10" frame, the back seat had plenty of stretch-out room. Good thing, too, because the back seat bottom is relatively flat, so if there were less leg room, thigh support would be a problem. But it wasn't because of the legroom and the toe space under the front seat. There is no center headrest in the rear seat, and no center armrest either (the SL has the armrest). The black short-nap velour was comfortable and felt durable--it seemed similar to the cloth in the Fit. The headliner was a textured off-white cloth that looked quite rich. Overall, I thought the quality of the interior materials was excellent for such an inexpensive car--just a small notch below the Rabbit in this class.

    The driving position was tolerable. The steering column tilts but does not telescope. The seat bottom doesn't adjust for height (it does on the SL). I really wanted more thigh support, or the beefy dead pedal to be forward another inch or two. There was no center armrest up front (the SL has one, a rather cheap vinyl-covered folding one that is useless when your right hand is on the wheel). But with the convenience package (and also on the SL) there are thickly padded armrests on the doors. The plastic wheel felt OK (the leather-covered wheel in the SL felt much nicer). Controls and displays were clear and had a quality feel. There is no cruise control available (but there is cruise on the SL). The standard radio sounded fine in my short test of it--but I didn't expect much in a $14k car. The glove box is immense. At first I thought it was tiny--then I noticed it extends WAY back into the dash--a long reach, but lots of room in there.

    The first thing I noticed when starting out is that the clutch is smooth and easy to use. The next thing I noticed was that the short-throw shifter makes a "thunk-thunk" sound on every shift. It was not a rich sound either--it was loud and annoying. If it is typical of this car, I would have to opt for the CVT because I don't think I could live with the sound. Other than the noise, the shifter moved through the gates just fine. The car revved higher than I thought it would in 6th--about 3000 rpm at 65 mph. I'd prefer a taller final gear for maximum fuel economy on the highway. The engine growled when accelerating, but it wasn't an unpleasant sound to my ears. The 1.8L engine was plenty peppy for around-town driving, and accelerated onto the freeway without drama. The car was quiet and smooth when cruising. The suspension soaked up small bumps well (the roads I was on were pretty smooth), but the feeling was a bit rubbery vs. well damped (but this is a $14k car after all). I didn't get to really push the car in the handling department, but it was easy to drive around suburban roads and highways.

    Back at the dealer, the sales manager confirmed they had not seen any ABS-equipped Versas yet, but that they would try to order some cars with ABS when they can put in their orders in early August. The manager said that until then, they will get whatever Nissan sends them. He noted that Nissan has suggested they not stock any more than 10% ABS-equipped cars. I don't know if that means Nissan doesn't think ABS will sell in the Versa, or that Nissan doesn't want ABS to sell in the Versa. Anyway, lack of ABS is a deal-breaker for me. Fortunately I am not in a hurry to buy, so I can see what happens with the supply of ABS-equipped cars.

    In summary, I think that if you don't need ABS and want a solid, smooth, comfortable small car and haul long-legged adults in the back seat on a regular basis, or the driver is very tall, and cargo space is not a priority, the Versa would be a great choice. The S offers good value, while the SL has a lot of comfort and convenience features including some uncommon options for this class like Bluetooth and IntelligentKey. The height adjuster on the SL may be important to some people, but it didn't make the driving position all that much better for me (it might come in handy for shorter drivers). The problem I see with the SL is that it it overlaps the real-world price territory for larger cars, such as the Matrix, Sonata, Accord VP, and Mazda3s, and even Nissan's own 2007 Sentra.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 2,084
    CVT is not a option on the S, only the SL. The Base gets a 4 spd auto or 6 spd.

  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 2,084
    First off great review..

    Now, the S model does not come with the convience package, Only Power Package and ABS package.

    His has been talked about in the form for weeks, the ABS package has not been released yet, Nissan is very slow on releasing that for some reason..

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    Personally I found the power windows, locks, and mirrors and padded armrests very convenient. ;)

    There are other options available on the S (e.g. rear spoiler) but I guess they haven't been released yet, either.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 2,084
    there is a difference between Packages and Indivedual items. The rear Spoiler is a Item not a package.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    ABS is a package though? What else is included in the ABS package besides ABS?
  • 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: 18,910
    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: 18,910
    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: 2,084
    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: 2,084
    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)
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