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Nissan Versa Test Drive reports



  • 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: 2,080
    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.

  • rcinmdrcinmd Posts: 139
    Took an SL out today, 6 speed stick. As much as I would like to have taken the car home, I am in Florida, and home is Maryland, and my current car is in Maryland.
    I was quite impressed, though more time behind the wheel is needed to really determine how I would feel about owning it. Overall, the car has a laid-back French air about it, very Citroenesque, and that is a good thing. I can tell it would be a great long distance car. The controls such as steering, clutch, shift action, etc, are a bit lighter than some might like. I looked for the noisy shift action, and it is slight. Believe me, if you wanted clunky and noisy, go find a 1985 Dodge Caravan.
    The Versa is on my list for sure. As with many, I wish it had a nice long cargo floor when the rear seats are folded, but that is just not to be. I am still wondering about the blue thermometer on the dash though. Both sticks I have fired up had it lit. I did start a CVT before the 6MT today, and I did not recall seeing the icon lit on that one.
  • It's simply a light to tell you that the engine is not warmed up, so to speak. Similar to a gauge when first started which moves when the water temp get warmer. Probably the one that did not display Blue had been driven recently and was still warm as far as the temp was concerned.

    I believe one should take it easy on quick starts, high revs until the Blue Light is gone.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 2,080
    my blue light goes out about 2 miles of driving, just remeber that the bluw light is only telling you, that the engine is cold. If it gets hot, the red temp light goes on.

  • This is a great car for the money.Yes it has some minor issues as other people have pointed out.Noisy shifter,weird cargo area,hanging idle between shifts and although I am only on second tank of gas(first tank used 8l/100km which should be better),fuel economy could be better and dumb gear ratios-I still say this car is a great "green" car.I have had Audi Allroad(a fantastic car),Mazda 6-v6,Porsches(928s4 and 930-I still own them),Honda civic vx,Subaru(impreza wagon and Outback VDC).This little car so far seems to be a very competent almost European flavoured great vehicle.
  • FYI: _Consumer Reports_ Magazine will have a full test report on the Versa in the December 2006 issue.
  • I think the Versa would be a better choice for a family than the xA. The Versa seemed to have better acceleration (probably due to the bigger engine) when getting onto the highway and a smoother road feel than the xA. Since I'm single and like the xA's better MPG, that's what I bought. But I thought the Versa was a solid vehicle.
  • w9cww9cw Posts: 888
    Generally, people consider a timing chain superior to a timing belt. This is true, especially if an owner does not adhere to the factory recommended maintenance schedule. Timing chains will last a long time, whereas belts must be changed periodically - typically at 60K intervals. That being said, the timing belt (proper name: Gilmer belt) is durable, quiet, and cheap to purchase. Labor costs to replace a timing belt are no higher than to replace a timing chain in an OHC engine design. A timing chain parts cost is much higher than a timing belt. Properly maintained, a timing belt design is reliable. Obviously, there are trade-offs to both designs, as timing chains tend to stretch over time and once this occurs beyond the capability of the tensioner to take up the slack, it must be changed out as well. It all comes down to proper maintenance. Don't change your timing belt at the specified intervals, and you'll end up with bent valves and holed pistons in an interference engine design. Thankfully, many new engine designs which use timing belts are non-interference designs, and if the belt should break, no harm in done.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,992
    The transmission on the Fit was what prevented me from getting it. My commute is all highway, and at 70mph the RPM is already about 3500 and the traffic moves closer to 75mph. The buzzing engine would drive me crazy. Plus I needed cruise, and you can't get it with the base Fit, and the Fit Sport has the exterior cosmetics I don't like (I'm 40, not 14yrs old!). I also have a Ford Freestyle and I love the CVT. At 70mph it runs at about 1900rpm and is really smooth, and I'm hoping the Versa's CVT is just as smooth and quite on the highway.
  • You'll be happy with the CVT. It's geared way taller than the 6sp. At 75 tach reads 2400 on level ground. With the 6sp it's about 3000. Versa starts to get noisy above 3000 rpm so the CVT is a godsend if you drive at 75 or 80. I've had it all the way up to 120. Cruising at 100 and it's taching only 3500. The 6sp hits 3500 at about 80.

  • I hope you don't mind a newbie posting here. I am sorta on my own trying to pick out a new small hatchback.

    I test drove a Nissan Versa this afternoon. The car seemed really responsive and the brakes seem fine (Consumer Reports didn't particularly like the breaking). Out on the highway, the car seemed to sway a little bit in a very minor wind. I didn't like the trunk at all. The seats don't fold down completely. But my overall impression was good.

    So now comes dealing with the salesperson. He told me that they are selling so good that I could put in an order for the exact vehicle I wanted and then if I didn't like it, I would not be obligated to buy it. So we sat down and customized one for me. I wanted CVT and ABS definitely. Those were the only things that what I wanted for "options." Then they tell me (manager also) that I HAVE to get mats and splash guards (the splash guards were about $100). I'm thinking why do they call them options when you don't have a choice? They said it is Nissan who insists on that. Anyway this is the breakdown of the cost of the car they are ordering with my name on it:

    Versa 1.85 SLHBCVT, ABS, mats, splash guards, $16575 (dealer fee: 397.00; I thought I read somewhere that that is considered padding the price), waste tire and battery fee (6.50), with taxes and title registration) total comes to: 18,272.21. Not negotiable. I would have a trade in.

    So all you experts on dealing with dealers, does this sound like a good deal? I am also going to be looking at the Mazada 3 hatchback. (I didn't like the Honda or Toyota).

    My father recently passed away and he was my main source of information on all this stuff.

    HELP ME!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    Definitely look at the Mazda3 first. And also check out the Rabbit, it's a very nice hatchback also and if you can live with a 3-door car, a 6-speed automatic with 16" alloys would run about $17k.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,992
    Depends on how quick you want the car. Many people (including myself) have been told by dealers that SL CVT with ABS won't be available until February, so if you want to wait that long, then I'd say go for it, but plan on paying MSRP. And try to sell your old car yourself because depending on what it is, they may only give you half of what it's really worth.

    Also, you might want to look at the Ford Focus 5 door. You'll be able to deal on those versus paying MSRP for the Versa, so the price might be the same.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Posts: 504
    Versa 1.85 SLHBCVT, ABS, mats, splash guards, $16575 (dealer fee: 397.00; I thought I read somewhere that that is considered padding the price), waste tire and battery fee (6.50), with taxes and title registration) total comes to: 18,272.21. Not negotiable. I would have a trade in.

    Does not sound like a very good deal to me. When we talked to a local Nissan dealership about a Versa SL with CVT and ABS, our OTD quote was more like $17,700. Of course, it did help that there were no such "option requirements (what an oxymoron)" like the floor mat and splash guards, so with those thrown-in, my price would have gotten a little closer to your quoted price. But the fact remains that you do not care for those options and are being forced to take them. And that makes it a bad deal.

    Mazda3 drives very nicely, although it is not exactly a fuel saving leader. But I do like the way it handles.
  • Everything is relevant to what YOU are willing to settle for and your urgency in purchasing or needing this car. We are paying less than you stated and we are obtaining a Convenience PKG. We were VERY FIRM that floor mats and splash guards were optional. I stated that the Dealer cannot have something both ways. If an item is optional then I have the choice to purchase it (unless item is part of another PKG). If it is not optional, then it should be part of the Invoice of the car or the MSRP, and no extra charge should be made. One doesn't go to the grocery store to buy chicken, and be told they must purchase a steak with the chicken or they can't buy the chicken. For the price of the floor mats one can go on a great air flight. Our dealer finally settled with us and we do not have to obtain either floor mats nor splash guards. HOWEVER, based on the items we want on our car, we do have to wait until Feb., but for us this is not a problem. You need to determine your needs, as this is YOUR car and not the Dealers or Salesperson's. Good luck!
  • Thanks very much for the excellent posts. About those mats and splash guards, the sales manager told me it was NOT the dealership's decision but it was the Nissan company's policy. That certainly raised a red flag to me. They also told me the vehicle should be here in about 4-6 weeks (before the end of 2006). I'm not in any rush to buy.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I think the dealer is being honest with you. Manufacturers often publish options list, but then some options are not even available and others are shipped to the dealer even if the dealer "unchecks" that option box.

    The pricing sounds reasonable. The car is in short demand, as are all small imports due to the recent gas crisis. If you want a 2006 Dodge or Chrysler (other than the Caliber), however, Chrysler seriously overproduced and there are some killer deals. (I didn't really think you'd be interested. :) )

    The one area in which you want to be careful is your tradein. Take it to a local carwash and negotiate a minor "trade in" detailing to spiff it up (about $100), then take it to a Carmax, if there is one near you, to get it appraised. When you go to the Nissan dealer for your Versa, it's your option to "sell" it to the dealer (Nissan or Carmax) that offered you the better price. Be sure to get the appraisal not more than a week before you go in to pick up your Versa. Be sure the car is really clean looking, it really does influence the trade-in price. Don't worry about last-minute oil changes and service, good dealers have to do it over again anyway since they don't usually trust owner service logs.

    Getting your Versa after the first of the year is a good time. As a first year model, the first few months of production tend to be the "buggiest" as the assembly line settles down. After the first of the year you'll probably get a reasonably defect free car since the production line will have been up and running about 9 monts by then.

    Your Versa should be a lot of fun. It wasn't designed in Japan or America - it's more of a European design, with a Renault version sold in Europe. So it should be a lot less boring than most small cars. (The transmission should be pretty reliable, too, Nissan has made a lot of CVT's and unlike some other companies has figured out how to do it right.)

    Oh yeah, the other way to watch your purchase costs is to find out how much an extended Nissan (not third party) warranty costs on-line, and get your dealer to match or come close (or buy it on-line later). The "extras" thrown at you in the finance and insurance department are often more profitable to the dealer than the car itself - and those profits are credited to the F&I person, not to your salesperson or the sales department.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Posts: 504
    It wasn't designed in Japan or America - it's more of a European design, with a Renault version sold in Europe.

    I see this type of comment so often on the internet. A terrible misconception. A Nissan car does not become European just because a common global platform is used. The Versa/Tiida are NOT European designs. No French engineers were involved in designing it, other than the platform. The only thing that is Renault about it is that its B-Platform was jointly developed by Nissan and Renault, and this platform was developed independently of the Versa/Tiida. Everything else was completely designed by Nissan. Some out there are even saying that the Versa is a rebadged Megane, and I am pretty sure that those have never even seen a Megane in person. There is no Renault version of the Versa, and there is no Nissan version of the Renault Megane or whatever. If you looked at the Megane in person, you would know right away that it is not a Versa by any manner or means. There is nothing in common between the Megane and Versa/Tiida except for the B-Platform.

    If having a jointly designed platform makes a Nissan car European, then all these Nissans would have to be European designs, which cannot be further from the truth:

    B-Platform: Nissan March, Micra, Cube, Tiida, NOTE, Wingroad, Bluebird Silphy

    C-Platform Nissan LaFesta, Sentra, Serena
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 2,080
    Regarding the Japanese ve Europeanness of the Versa, Magazines have said the same thing, the car rides more European then a Japanese car. If the platform is jointly deveopled by the french and Japanses then the car does have some european roots.. I'll stand by my statement, The Versa rides more European then Japanses...

  • jacksan1jacksan1 Posts: 504
    The Versa rides more European then Japanses

    I tend to agree regarding the Versa's quality of ride. To me, it feels more German than French, at least at the lower speed. I have never driven the current Modus nor Clio (Lutesia), and I do wonder how the Versa's ride compares with these Renaults that use the same Alliance B-platform. I once heard a design engineer of the Tiida say that, if he had been allowed a higher price point, he would have given the Tiida a ride quality like the Golf. So there may have been a desire on the part of the Nissan design team to tune it with a European taste (remember - No Renault personnel was involved). By the way, the Versa rides more firmly than the JDM Tiida. They apparently tuned the Versa for a higher speed application in the U.S.

    By the way, the Versa/Tiida's B-Platform is actually based on the platform used in the JDM Nissan Cube Cubic, meaning that it is a further Japanized version of the original Alliance B-Platform used in the Modus and Clio.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 2,080
    Jacksan one of the US car mag's wrote that the Versa as well as the US Sentra are based off a Renault platform, but you keep saying that the Versa is not. But how the US versa rides much more European then Japanses I have to wonder if its not based on a European platform.

This discussion has been closed.