Nissan is introducing a redesigned Versa for 2012—but the redo is only for the sedan, the new version of the hatchback (which actually accounts for a majority of sales) probably won’t be out until next year.
The Versa sedan switches to an all-new platform that sheds 150 pounds, even though it rides on the same 102.4-inch wheelbase. Overall length is trimmed by a fraction and the car is 1.2 inches lower. The Versa’s traditional roomy back seat is maintained.
The powertrain lineup has been simplified, and fuel economy is improved. A new 1.6-liter four is the sole engine, replacing the old 1.6-liter and the 1.8-liter units. The new engine make 109 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque. The previous 4-speed automatic is gone, replaced by a CVT. A 5-speed manual is also available, but the previous 6-speed stick is gone. The CVT is the more economical gearbox, with fuel economy ratings of 30/37 mpg (versus 25/33 mpg for the 2011 1.6-liter/4-speed automatic). For the manual, the estimates are 27/36 mpg (up from 26/35 mpg for the current 1.6-liter/5-speed).
The 2012 Versa will be offered in three trim levels: S, SV, and SL. The price of the least expensive version goes up by $1000, to $11,750 (with destination). But the 2012 model adds essential equipment that’s missing from today’s price leader, such as air-conditioning, anti-lock brakes, and a radio with CD player. For those spending more, Bluetooth is available on all models and there’s even a navigation option for the top-spec SL.