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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Nissan Versa Shines We Love It! Road Test

By Miguel Caparros, Bob Sarda With Mike Thies
First Look
Expectations of testing the least expensive new car in America were running cold just coming out of the Infiniti M37. The retail price of the base model is $10,990, the black SV model we tested  looked good. Black cars can show every defect in the paint and body. Our example on close inspection revealed a flawless finish and all body panels lined up properly. It did not look cheap, to the contrary we have seen some high end models that (Click Here For The Intro Video)                             would be shamed by the exterior finish of  this car. At $14,990 it is still very affordable and a good value. Although it is listed as a subcompact there is nothing compact about the inside room. even with the seat adjusted for our tallest driver, 6'7" Mike Thies, I could still sit comfortably behind him.  No magic mirrors or trickery just sound engineering and planning. Most small cars and even some large ones have a very upright rear seat that pushes you forward. The Versa rear seat is slightly reclined and the tall height of the seat cushion to the floor make it a comfortable place to sit even for long periods of time. 
( Click Here For The Close Ups Videos)
The trunk does not scrimp at all on space either, taking our full mixture of suitcases, garment bag and a small duffle bag. enough for a family of 4 for a vacation. This car also has the largest glove box I have ever seen. You could put the baby in there (not recommended) a better use would be to carry a roasted chicken meal with all the fixings for four!
Click Here For The Road Test Part 1

The Engine is a 1.6 liter of 109 horsepower and it moves this car rather acceptably with a 0 to 60 time just under 10 seconds, our tester was equipped with the automatic CVT transmission that works great but does take a little getting used to. For those those drivers that enjoy the experience of shifting their own, a 5 speed transmission is standard equipment. Either way the fuel mileage is rated at 30 city 38 highway.
Click Here For Road Test Part 2 

Al four of us liked the driving and feel of this car. Doreen loved the way it felt, it reminded her of the first gen Scirroco she had in high school, peppy, agile and did exactly what you asked of it. She wished it was a 5 speed. Mike though it was to firm and jiggly, he did like the steering and how the brakes felt. I liked it! I was pleasantly surprised at how flat it cornered and how well it accelerated. 

Bob Sarda who had volunteered his 2007 Honda Aaccord to show just how big the Versa is, he wrote a whole chapter. 

Here it is in his own word

It was a stormy, rainy night, the night before I was tasked to drive the Versa.
On the day of my test run, the sky was Carolina Blue, the humidity was mid to late 60 ‘s percentile and the roads were clear, clean and freshly washed. One could not ask for better weather-a cool morning, temp in the upper 60’s.  Near perfect.

I did a thoughtful walk around the car. Not too big, not too small, and yet it just bearly made the cut in the sub-compact class.
 As I settled into the driver’s seat, I began to realize that this little car was very big inside. My co-captain who is not a small man by any stretch of the imagination, and yet, he is sitting in the suicide seat with plenty of leg and head room. And for him to have plenty of head room is saying a lot. ( I thing Bob Is calling me a fat head)
After the drive we checked out the trunk and the back seat room.  There is plenty of room in the trunk for 2 dead bodies and the back seat has more room and more comfortable seating than my V6 Honda Accord.
The Test Drive:
The car is quick and smooth. The ride is excellent for a sub-compact car. Heck! It is very good for a mid-size car. It carried us down the road at speeds that required you to double check the speedometer. You did not feel like you were merging onto the highway at 90 miles per hour. I had stomped the gas pedal on the on ramp to watch the tachometer and feel the constant velocity transmission work its magic.
It was smooth as glass and high revving as one would expect of a 4 banger.  It never approached the red line and before I merged into traffic, there I was, staring down at an impressive 90 mph. There was some pedal left and yet, I did not need any more.  I backed off the throttle. Mission accomplished.
I felt a little hollow. There is something empty about getting up to 90 and not feeling the rush of acceleration. The feeling of power, raw, hoary, stick- it- to- the- man HORSE POWER.
We need to accelerate to make a proper merge and the machine simply responded-“Compliance”.  Just a walk in the park to go 90 miles per hour. As if the machine  responded back to my wishes, “Should you require anything else, just press the accelerator or the brakes. This is what I do.” (Bob Just finished watching a Sci-Fi marathon) 

My first car was a 1947 Mercury, business coupe, flat head 8- 88 HP on a good day. When I got the car with 54,000 plus miles on it, it used a quart of oil every 9 gallons of gas or every 108 miles. I was 16 at the time and that car never saw 90 MPH.  I tried. Lord knows I tried. 60 MPH was an accomplishment and you felt like you were flying, cheating death, living on the edge, bare knuckle riding the wind, flirting with disaster. And  heaven help you if you came near a curve. Better get those horses under control and whoa back down to 45. Thanks Bob.

So to sum it up it gets 4 thumbs up from all of us. We like to get blind opinions we get random people for a quick look and ride and get their impressions, this is where we find out what people think of the car.  

We snatch random people at the mall. 
Beth a late 20s secretary having launch, loved the room in the car and she noticed that in this car she could face the baby seat to the rear without interfering with the front seat, something she cannot do in her Honda Civic. When asked what she would pay for this car, her answer was, giving that her 3 year old civic cost her $ 17,000 she would expect to pay 18,000 for the larger Versa. 

Bill an options broker in his late 40's has a new Acura SUV. He has an Au Pair that he has currently in a 4 year old Camry. He was impressed with the ruggedness of all the materials and the fact that it has all the latest safety gear to keep his kids safe as they are driven to the various soccer practice and ballet rehearsals that are part of their daily life. He was awe struck with the size of the trunk as the Camry is always jammed with all the gear that has to be moved around. Bill did a quick calculation in his mind when we told him the fuel mileage, he said that the savings in 3 years would permit him to get the BMW 5 series that he wants! He made us an on the spot offer of  $16,500 plus fees right now. We told him to head to his closest Nissan dealer as this one is not for sale. This is the first time we encounter people willing to pay more than the MSRP. They were all speechless when we told them the base price of $10,990 and the price of our second level SV model of $15,490. 

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