• Apr 21st 2011 at 2:21PM
  • 106
2012 Nissan Versa – Click above for high-res image gallery

After Nissan unveiled its redesigned 2012 Versa sedan at the New York Auto Show yesterday, coverage was almost unanimous in declaring it, at best, inconspicuous. David Reuter, Nissan's VP of Corporate Communications, tells Autoblog that's fine:
"The Fiesta may have been getting the press, this is what was selling. We were up 20 percent last year. Our competitors have gone for sporty and styling, but that's not what these buyers want. Subcompact buyers want a dependable, roomy car with good fuel economy, and they want the features and specs to feel they spent a lot more on a car than they did."
The formula, inconspicuous as it might be, has worked: Nissan moved 99,705 Versa sedans and hatchbacks in 2010, running away from everything else in the class – next were the Honda Fit with 54,354, the Hyundai Accent with 51,975, and the Chevrolet Aveo with 48,623 units sold. Say what you will about the looks, with a segment-leading 103 cubic feet of room in the 2012 Versa and more standard features at a competitive price point, the momentum will likely continue.

Live photos copyright ©2011 Drew Phillips / AOL

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Basil Exposition
      • 4 Years Ago
      "The Fiesta may have been getting the press, this is what was selling" You made the most dirt cheap car available in the country - the lowest common denominator. Of course it is selling - there will always be plenty of people who don't care about anything but paying the least amount possible for something that has four wheels, and that's what you created. Congratulations I guess?
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      A little disheartening that the company that makes the GT-R and the Z would want their subcompact to be such an appliance. All these buyers are going to graduate to is an Altima then maybe peak at a Maxima or Murano. Clearly the days of Nissan's compacts being as exciting as their top products has passed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm having a hard time recalling any Nissan compact model that I would ever call exciting, at least post-1970s. I think they have a long-standing history of blandness in this segment for the U.S. market.
      Orin O'Neill
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nissan mostly sells these things to rental fleet operators, who care about things like CPM and ROI. Car rental customers like to lock their stuff up in a trunk, and couldn't care less what the car looks like. Likewise, people focused on price above all else just want the thing to start every time, and for the stereo and a/c to work. Most Americans regard cars the same way they regard refrigerators, and don't want to have to think about their cars any more than they think about their refrigerators...
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Fit gives you a clue: styling? nothing special but it avoids fuglyness, power? most cars offer more, mileage? nothing special here, space? THE MAGIC SEAT SLAUGHTERS ALL BEFORE IT, much more space than the Versa and more than most cars one segment up. The Fit remains a big car on the inside and a small car on the outside. Find another car that can take four 5'10" golfers and their bags (drivers loaded separately but still in the trunk). Plus Fit owners are drinking the Koolaid. I haven't ever met one in person that didn't like their car. So what can designers take away from this? Keep the weight down and you don't need a big engine, big wheels or rear disc brakes. Competent styling that satisfies the Japanese and Europeans will work fine in the US. Well done ergonomics and space planning (Magic Seat, gas tank under front seat) will trump funky dashes, Velcro upholstery (attacks and hold lint) and the cheapest an most pathetic carpet ever installed. Honda powertrains were found acceptable despite low horsepower, mediocre mileage and less than class leading transmissions. Look at the many things Honda didn't do right plus they didn't have a sedan model to pitch. I believe that there is a hatchback renaissance coming. The Prius effect is so prevalent that I asked several times if the Fit was a hybrid just because of the 5th door. Hatchbacks are cool. Now some of the most expensive German cars are hatchbacks (BMW GT, Panamera). I don't think that the market got tired of the increased functionality it was the barer of the gifts that caused the problem. This hatchback momentum can come to a screeching halt however if Ford and GM bring back the Pinto and the Vega.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree completely. Personally, I wouldn't buy one because I prefer something sportier. However, most people who buy this don't care about that kind of stuff. This and the Fit are flat-out practical and useful. One of my co-workers has a Versa as his commuter car. We sometimes use it to go to lunch, and it holds four of us with ease, including one guy who is about 6'4". That is more than I can say for my Mazda Protege.
      • 4 Years Ago
      holy ground clearance!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Was thinking about this some more from a business standpoint. Some people have been mentioning fleet sales like it is a bad thing... but what if you built a car to meet fleet needs that would sell at a profit. The new Versa has more room than competitors, comparable fuel economy (only the new Kia/Hyundai beat it with 34 mpg combined), all the features fleets care about.... $2-3000 cheaper than the competition. If you are a fleet buyer, it would be hard to justify getting something else. From a retail perspective, value buyers would get the Versa Sedan, with other buyers getting the new, more exciting, Versa Hatch, Cube or Juke (Nissan actually has a number of offerings in the size class, unlike some other manufacturers). Some consumers may go into dealers to look at the low-priced offering, then end up buying something else. But what does this do to the competition? The typical small car business model is to start with retail sales and then sell excess capacity to fleets. But with fleets buying a Versa at $2-3k less for a comparable model, then you would end up having to post significant losses to sell to fleets or have to use significant retail discounts to sell excess supply, also leading to losses and reduced resale value. Most manufacturers would have to trim production... but this also reduces economies of scale. As such, it would make compact sales more difficult for competitors. From a competitive perspective, offering a value product that fulfills all the rational aspects thousands of dollars less than your competition makes sense.
      Mike McDonald
      • 4 Years Ago
      It looks like a 2001 Toyota Prius...
      • 4 Years Ago
      When I go out looking for a car I look for the ugliest thing I can find. Luckily Nissan is there for me!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Right. Cause the Toyota Echo was a homerun.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nissan says subcompact buyers aren't looking for styling, sportiness -- they forgot to finish their sentence Nissan says subcompact buyers aren't looking for styling, sportiness when they visit a Nissan dealership
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic are both fine examples of bland selling well. Nissan has a point.
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