As you are probably
aware, one of the cars
that I drive is an older
VW Jetta that just
turned 505,000 miles.
As a 1986 car, it is
square in appearance
with tall windows
Additionally, for its
size, it has good interior
seats, and it drives with a solid mechanical feel. And the gas mileage is not far from
today’s cars equipped with a 1.8-liter engine. Maybe this is why I have kept the car for
so long as it just seems to do so many things well and it is a satisfying drive.
And I must say that I am quite impressed with Nissan’s Versa. Like
my VW, it also has a high roofline (actually the Versa is about 4-inches
taller than my VW) and tall glass windows that provide good outward
visibility. Both cars have a somewhat distinctive look that is just offbeat
enough to be mildly cool in appearance.
Like my Volkswagen, the Versa is equipped with a 1.8-liter engine (being
a modern mill, it has about 20 more horsepower than my VW) and the fuel
mileage is reasonable at 28 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with an automatic
transmission (my VW has a 5-speed manual transmission). The Versa’s
highway mileage is good but its city mileage is a few mpg better than most
other vehicles in its class. And when you think about it, in town driving can
be a big part of motoring.
Regarding the Versa, I am especially impressed with the very short engine
bay. The remainder of the car is interior room right back to the rear hatch
(Although the car is also offered with a trunk, I like the look of the hatchback).
With 4-doors, the car is very practical, and when the rear seat is folded down,
SUV like cargo can be hauled.
The interior is very straight forward, however, the front seats are surprisingly
comfortable and there is a feeling of open space. Like my VW, the
driver sits up a bit and has good view of the road ahead in the Versa. In
the rear, there is a good 12″ to 14″of legroom. This betters my VW by
about 3 inches. When the Versa’s interior is finished in light tan or off
white, it provides an upbeat driving environment.
I have had two opportunities to drive the Versa. One was a test drive
and the other was a one day car rental. The Versa’s engine performance
with the 1.8-liter is adequate for in town use or on the highway. The
steering is well weighted and responsive, and the car’s brakes are easy
to modulate and effective.
And the best part of the Nissan Versa is the car’s price. The 4-door
sedan with a 1.6-liter engine starts as low as $9,990. The hatchback with
the 1.8-liter engine is about $14,000. And in these challenging economic
times, I can see the hatchback selling for say $12,900.
I am not only impressed by the Versa’s relatively low price but ( like my
VW) by how many things it does very well. Like the good value that my
VW has provided for years, the Versa is a modern iteration of the same
So much for my subjective comparison of the two cars. After all, one
of the cars is near and dear to me. Therefore, let’s take a look at the
numbers for a comparison of the two cars. The first number pertains
to my Jetta and the second to the Versa.
Horsepower: 102, 122; length: 171.7″, 169.1″; width: 65.5″, 66.7″;
height: 55.7″, 60.4″; wheelbase: 97.3″, 102.4″; wheels: 13″, 15″;
weight: 2,500, 2,700; ground clearance: 4.7″, 6.3″; interior volume
cu. ft.: 87, 94.7; gas tank: 13.0, 13.2; 0-60: 10.3, 9.5; price (new)
After looking at the numbers, and although the Jetta is almost 25 years
old, the two cars are surprisingly similar. As would be expected, the Versa
offers a bit more in just about every area. And after 25 years, you would
expect the price to more than double or even quadruple. However, the 1986
Jetta’s price was $7,900 and the 2011 Versa’s (hatchback) price is $14,270.
And what are several things that the Versa provides that my Jetta does not?
The Versa has power steering, windows, mirrors and door locks; an automatic
transmission (although it also comes with a 5 or 6-speed manual); the fold
down rear seat, ABS brakes and a stereo system with multiple speakers.
My conclusion is that if my Jetta has been a very good value for me,
the Nissan Versa may well be a great value for you. As my Jetta of old,
the Versa does many things well.
The bottom line – The Nissan Versa is worth your look and a test drive.
Have an auto question or comment? You can email it to me at
[email protected]. Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best
for the Price…” www.DriveTheBestBook.com.