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Motoring: Nissan's Versa-tile sedan

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | October 3rd, 2011

This current economic climate has changed buying habits among consumers; for instance, more people are now buying smaller cars than bigger, more expensive ones.

One company thinks that buying smaller doesn't have to mean buying a cramped sardine can.

Nissan has just launched its new 2012 Versa sedan in Canada, a car that has an incredible amount of room, both for the front seat passengers and in the rear seat passengers. In fact, there is more room for back seat passengers in the Versa than in a BMW 5-series or a Mercedes-Benz E-class.

On top of the roomy interior, you get an enormous trunk. Honestly, if you're in the pizza delivery business, this would be the ideal car for you (it even has 60/40 split rear seats), not only because it can carry tons of boxes, but also because it is efficient.

Mechanically it has a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine that produces 109 hp. It features dual-spray injectors, which use up to 57 per cent finer spray for more efficient burning. How efficient, you ask? This Versa sedan can manage 6.0- litres/100km on a combined city and highway run (when mated with the CVT automatic; the manual gearbox consumes an extra litre), which makes it more efficient than some hybrids. Its clean aerodynamics might be helping it in the economy department also, as its co-efficient of drag is just 0.31.

Yes, I did just mention that it has a CVT automatic, and I, like most people, have never liked these transmissions. However, this latest generation CVT feels much more like a conventional automatic, yet it still gives you the fuel economy advantage of such a set up. Is it the best of both worlds? Yes, it really is.

While this is no GT-R-esque road rocket, it moves along quite well on the road. The ride is smooth and the handling is also quite decent. However, I wish the seats had more support. This is not the most comfortable car to take on a long journey, so it's best to use it as a city commuter.

While on the topic of things I don't like about this car, the materials used are just hard plastics; if there is one thing about this car that will remind you this is an econo-car, it will be the interior fit and finish. The lack of grab handles in the roof for passengers is also a reminder that this car was built to a price — a low, low price.

This is, after all, the cheapest new car you can buy in Canada, with a starting price of $11,798 (well-equipped SL model is yours from $16,298). Even at the lowest price, you get electric power steering, plenty of air bags, ABS brakes and stability control, all as standard. You can also add goodies like Bluetooth connectivity, USB/iPod connector, a built-in navigation system and XM satellite radio.

So it is a big/small car with a small price tag and it comes with plenty of features. Sounds like an excellent first car.

It might not be the greatest driving small car, or the most comfortable, but if you're looking for space and efficiency, this new Versa sedan would be an excellent choice.
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