2012 Nissan Versa Sedan
2012 Nissan Versa Sedan. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2012 Nissan Versa

Quebec City, Quebec – Frugal shoppers looking to buy the most car for the least money need look no further than the 2012 Nissan Versa Sedan. Continuing a tradition that began with the previous generation Versa Sedan, the 2012 Sedan begins at a low $11,798 (plus $1,497 freight), giving it bragging rights as the lowest retail priced subcompact on the market in Canada.

Naturally, at that price you will have to give up some amenities; the base trim Versa S comes equipped with manual transmission, roll-up windows, a fixed back rear seat, two-speaker audio, a trunk that opens with a key and the type of air conditioning that rolling down the windows on a warm day provides.

It’s not everyone who wants transportation quite this basic, and it is not expected that many buyers will opt for it. Most likely, the big seller in the Versa line-up will be the SV trim, which adds power windows with one-touch driver’s side auto up and down, power door locks, remote keyless entry, remote trunk release, higher quality cloth seats, four-speaker audio, better “fine vision” gauges and a 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks. With a manual transmission the Versa SV retails for $13,798, and with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) it’s $15,098: still a pretty good deal for people that want a lot of car for as little money as possible.

2012 Nissan Versa Sedan
2012 Nissan Versa Sedan. Click image to enlarge

Even in top-of-the-line SL trim (aluminum alloy wheels with low rolling resistance tires, fog lights, Bluetooth, cruise control, map lights, four-speaker audio with iPod input, radio data and speed-sensitive volume control) the 2012 Nissan Versa sedan tops out at just $16,298 with CVT standard.

Despite its price leadership, the Nissan Versa Sedan will not leave you feeling like a miser. It is well-engineered, surprisingly spacious, stylish (but not conspicuous) and pleasant to drive.

For 2012, the Versa has undergone a nearly complete engineering transformation, a thorough modernization, but without losing any of the positive characteristics of the previous generation.

The Versa Sedan now rides on an all new platform designated by Nissan as “V,” for Versatile, that will underpin many other Nissans in the future. The new platform is 68 kg (150 lbs.) lighter than the previous “B” platform and uses 20 per cent fewer components in its construction.

2012 Nissan Versa Sedan
2012 Nissan Versa Sedan. Click image to enlarge

The Versa sedan looks larger than it really is thanks to an exterior design that is lower, smoother and more aerodynamic than the boxy look of the previous generation. While retaining the same 2,600 mm (102.4 in.) wheelbase and 1,695 mm (66.7 in.) width as the previous generation Versa Sedan, the new model is 30.4 mm (1.2 in.) lower in height and 15 mm (0.6 in.) shorter in overall length. The biggest dimensional gain is in the rear overhang – the distance from the center of the rear tire to the rear bumper – giving the Versa 419 litres (14.8 cu. ft.) of trunk space. The new exterior design is not a head turner and tends to blend in to the modern automotive environment, but Nissan expects that it is a design practical buyers will prefer.

Despite its diminutive size, the Versa sedan has a surprisingly roomy interior with rear seat leg room that is particularly noteworthy; leg room is adult sized. If equipped with a 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks, the Versa Sedan’s cargo carrying capacity is enormous for the size of the car, with plenty of room for long items like hockey sticks and golf bags.

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