NEW FOR 2009:

– new lower priced sedan model with smaller 1.6-litre engine

For 2009, the Nissan Versa hatchback is unchanged, but the sedan model undergoes a transformation. Previously equipped with a 1.8-litre engine, it now comes only with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder, and only in a base model with optional packages.

The Versa hatchback uses a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, with a six-speed manual transmission. The S trim line can be optioned to a four-speed automatic, while the SL can be optioned to a CVT. The sedan uses a 1.6-litre four-cylinder with five-speed manual transmission, or optional four-speed automatic.

Features on the S hatchback include 15-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, tilt wheel, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, cargo cover, passenger vanity mirror, four-way manual driver’s seat, suede and tricot cloth seat upholstery, 60/40 split-folding rear seatback, CD stereo with four speakers, and active front head restraints.

The SL adds 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, cruise control, map lights, rear door pockets, driver vanity mirror, six-way manual driver’s seat, woven cloth upholstery, front seat centre armrest, six-CD/MP3/WMA stereo with auxiliary input, and anti-theft system.

Features on the sedan include 14-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, tilt column, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and active head restraints. It can be optioned with a package of air conditioning, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, heated mirrors and CD stereo, and with a separate package of anti-lock brakes.

Surprisingly roomy for its size, the Versa now comes in a stripped-down sedan version that drops the price to $12,498. Its double-stuffed foam seats are the most comfortable in the segment, and rear-seat legroom is considerable for a compact. The 1.8-litre is a peppy engine and is best with the four-speed automatic, as it can tend to slog along with the CVT at lower speeds. Stability control is not available, even as an option.

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