Update - Rupak has just confirmed that he's driven the 2011 Versa which isn't coming to India. There was a communication gap in the note, we regret for having provided the wrong information.
IAB fan Rupak Banerjee, a fresh graduate of mechanical engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology drove the Nissan Versa at the local dealer. The Versa is positioned as an economy sedan meant for students and executives planning their professional careers.
Before flying to America, Rupak spent all his time driving new cars in India and reading IAB everyday. He has a good idea about the sedans in our market and writes this review with that acumen in mind. Here's his account of the Nissan Versa -
I drove the automatic transmission last week, and my entire report is on this variant. There are some things that won't differ like the looks, for example. The Versa has a compact exterior look. The boot size is standard and thanks to some clever designing, it does not stick out like a scaffolding from a roof.
Coming to the interior, the trims available are not very pleasing. Being a compact/budget sedan placed the lower end of the Nissan series, the buyer is made to feel the pinch of not having spent enough. The model I tested had black interior trim (base model). Cloth seats are good and the seating position is comfortable. But the interior looks dated and is not at all contemporary.
Being the lowest car in their line, Nissan have truly made the buyers feel like a black swan. A lot of work needs to go into this before it gets anywhere in competing the already busy 5 lakh rupee portion of the market.
A lot of people will not notice the difference in acceleration and at the lowest price offering, we can't be very picky about anything. It would be interesting to see how the car does with the manual transmission which won't be a big hit in America as people prefer AT.
The dash needs a little more lighting to make it look good. The salesman agreed that most people are thrown off by the absence of the indicator lights on the dash. You are never sure if the indicator lights are still blinking. As with a lot of cars, the dash needs more readouts along with the analog speedo and rev counter we've come to love.
The seats are not bad, but the ride is on the firmer side. The handling is good for the city as it sticks to the road even through tight corners. Although the sitting position is quite high you'd expect the car to roll a bit but there is absolutely no such tendency. Pulling into a very tight corner even at 30 mph does not seem difficult and the car remains smooth and stable.
Brakes are not class leading. They provide adequate stopping capability with discs at front and drums for the rear. The model comes with both ABS and Electronic Brake Assist which are very useful here during winters. I did not find any particular problem even while braking hard.
Noise levels inside the vehicle were minimal. The manual AC does take a little time to kick in. The vehicle maintained a stable posture going over potholes though the vibes are transmitted through to your neck.
Surprisingly the steering maintains its direction and does not loose orientation while going over rough roads. It is definitely not meant for excursions on unpaved roads, but on city roads it should be alright. As mentioned before, the ride is stiff and would turn out to be uncomfortable on broken roads.
The Versa is a no-frills cars and is priced very well in America. Though there are some irritants, but overall it gives you more than what you pay for.