Test Drive: 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV sedan videos car test drives reviews nissan
Test Drive: 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV sedan videos car test drives reviews nissan
2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV sedan. Click image to enlarge

There’s plenty of legroom for front and rear passengers however the car’s narrow width makes the rear seat better suited for two passengers rather than three. Headroom is okay at the rear, but the sloping roofline means you have to duck under it when getting in and out. There is no centre rear armrest.

Standard convenience features like remote door unlocking, power windows with driver’s automatic down and up, and power, heated mirrors are appreciated, and we’d recommend ordering the optional Convenience package which includes steering wheel mounted audio controls, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity, and cruise control as well as MP3/WMA capability and an iPod/iPhone Interface System between the front seats. All this for just $400! There’s also a standard auxiliary input in the radio faceplate.

In the Versa Sedan SV and SL, the split folding rear seatbacks fold down but not quite flat. The big 419-litre trunk is fully lined as is, surprisingly, the trunk lid. There’s a temporary spare tire under the trunk floor and a little bit of hidden storage space.

The Versa’s revised 1.6-litre twin cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine makes 109 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m. but perhaps due to a lack of sound insulation, the engine is excessively noisy under hard acceleration. This is amplified by the action of the CVT which keeps revs up until the driver eases off the throttle. If you put your foot to the floor, the engine quickly climbs to 5,500 rpm and stays there while you accelerate. The noise isn’t deafening, but it’s loud when compared to some of its competitors. Gentle acceleration produces much less engine noise, and in normal city driving and while cruising on the freeway (where engine revs are under 2,000 rpm at 100 km/h), the cabin is fairly quiet. Tire noise and road noise are acceptable.

Test Drive: 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV sedan videos car test drives reviews nissan
2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV sedan. Click image to enlarge

According to the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) the 109-hp Versa SV Sedan with the CVT accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 10.7 seconds. That compares to the 138-hp Chevrolet Sonic sedan, with six-speed automatic, in 10.5 seconds, the 138-hp Hyundai Accent hatchback, with six-speed automatic, at 10.4 seconds, the 106-hp Toyota Yaris sedan, with four-speed automatic in 10.8 seconds, and the 120-hp Ford Fiesta hatchback, with six-speed automatic, at 10.7 seconds.

Fuel economy is officially rated at 6.7 L/100 km (42 mpg) city, 5.2 L/100 km (54 mpg) highway and 6.0 L/100 km (47 mpg) combined with the CVT transmission. The on-board average fuel consumption display in our test car was showing 7.6 L/100 km during a week of mostly city driving.

The Versa’s CVT is smoother than a traditional automatic transmission because there are no shift points and we quite liked it when we weren’t in a hurry. An on/off “overdrive” button on the shift lever enhances throttle responsiveness by raising engine revs to a higher starting point. It’s like dropping down a gear with the push of a button, and we found it handy when going up steep hills.

Test Drive: 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV sedan videos car test drives reviews nissan
2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV sedan. Click image to enlarge

The Versa Sedan’s braking performance in the dry is acceptable, but not class leading. In AJAC braking tests from 100 km/h to zero, the Versa SV sedan with standard front disc/rear drum brakes stopped in 44.4 metres; the Hyundai Accent hatchback with four disc brakes took 45.1 metres, the Chevrolet Sonic sedan with front discs/rear drum brakes stopped in 41.8 metres, the Toyota Yaris sedan with front disc/rear drums braked in 41.8 metres, and the Ford Fiesta hatchback with front disc/rear drum brakes took 43.2 metres.

The Versa’s electric power steering is easy on the arms and responds quickly, making lane changes and city traffic manoeuvring quite easy. However, its 11.6 metre (38 ft.) turning diameter is a bit wide for a small car. On the freeway, the Versa Sedan feels stable and tracks well. With a curb weight of only 1082 kg (2385 lbs) with the CVT, the Versa Sedan is one of the lighter cars in its class – handling is nimble but the tall sedan leans a bit in the corners and the standard 185/65R-15-inch Continental ContiPro Contact all-season tires felt pressed during hard cornering.

Despite the Versa SV Sedan’s occasionally noisy engine, unappealing dash plastics and lack of a telescoping steering wheel, we warmed up to its roomy cabin, big trunk, many convenience features, decent fuel economy and easy to drive nature. Despite its faults, there’s a lot of value here for $17,065, all in.

Pricing: 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV Sedan
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