2008 Versa New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Versa is big and roomy inside given its subcompact dimensions. It has big, cushy seats. It offers decent head room and legroom and lots of hip room, making it a good choice for taller and larger drivers. Back-seat passengers will find rear-seat leg room as good as that in larger cars and SUVs. The cabin is nicely finished and offers all the modern conveniences.
Versa offers other small-car virtues, including nimble handling, easy parking, and lively performance. And it delivers an EPA-estimated 31 mpg on the highway with an automatic, 33 mpg with a manual transmission.
The Versa competes with the lower priced Toyota Yaris and the more expensive Honda Fit, but it is slightly bigger than either. All three are subcompacts designed with tall rooflines for increased interior comfort and visibility. The Versa is the smallest car you'll find in Nissan showrooms: smaller and less expensive than the compact Nissan Sentra, but offering greater interior space and more versatility.
The Versa has received the highest possible ratings in government and insurance industry crash tests, though keep in mind that's among small cars (five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and a 'good' rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Versa safety features include dual-stage frontal air bags, front-seat side-impact air bags for chest protection, and roof-mounted curtain air bags for head protection.
Versa went on sale as a five-door hatchback in July 2006, with a four-door sedan following in January 2007. Combined, the sedan and hatch sold more 59,000 units in less than one model year. For 2008, a Sport Package is available for both the sedan and hatchback, consisting of front and rear spoilers, lower body side sill extensions, and fog lights.
Bottom line, the Nissan Versa is a big small car with comfort, performance and versatility. It's roomy and offers good fuel economy.
The 2008 Nissan Versa is available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback, each in two trim levels. All are powered by the same 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels.
The Versa S sedan ($12,880) and hatchback ($12,980) come standard with cloth upholstery; air conditioning with micro filter; four-speaker, 120-watt AM/FM/CD stereo; tilt steering column; and 185/65R15 tires on 15-inch steel wheels. The hatchback also features a 60/40 split folding rear seat. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic transmission is optional ($800). Options include cruise control ($200), and a Power Package ($700) consisting of power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, door armrest pads, rear door map pockets, and a glove compartment light.
The Versa SL sedan ($14,890) and hatchback ($14,980) make cruise control and the contents of the Power Package standard, plus a more powerful (180-watt) stereo with an in-dash 6CD changer and MP3 capability, premium woven seat fabric, a more adjustable driver's seat, and center armrests front and rear. Tires are the same size as the base model's, but are mounted on 15-inch machined alloy wheels. Sedan and hatchback both come with split folding rear seats. A six-speed manual is standard. Optional is a continuously variable automatic transmission, or CVT ($1,000); a four-speed automatic transmission is an option ($750) for the SL sedan.
Options for the SL include XM Satellite Radio ($150), along with five option packages: The Convenience Package ($650) features an Intelligent Key system, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, and audio switches on a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Sunroof Package ($600) features a power sunroof and illuminated visor vanity mirrors. The Sport Package ($700) includes fog lights, a rear spoiler, side sill extensions, unique front and rear fascias for the hatchback, and a front chin spoiler for the sedan. An Audio Package ($300) for the hatchback adds a 100-watt Rockford-Fosgate stereo with premium speakers and subwoofer.
Accessories for Versa include an iPod interface ($290), splash guards ($110), floor mats ($105-$155), auto-dimming mirror ($125), interior accent lighting ($300), and aluminum kick plates ($130). A rear roof spoiler ($250) can be added to any hatchback.
Safety features are comprehensive, and include advanced front airbags, side-impact airbags, roof-mounted curtain airbags, front-seat active head restraints, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) are an option ($250) on all models and we recommend getting it.