By Kelsey Mays on November 6, 2008
Good news for cash-strapped buyers: Nissan’s sub-$10,000 Versa doesn’t scrimp on the safety features that gave it top Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash-test ratings. The 107-hp car only comes as a sedan — you can build it at Nissan’s consumer website — and we’re pleased to note it still has six airbags and active head restraints.
Other shoe, now dropping: It forgoes a stereo, downsizes the wheels and adopts black plastic mirrors and door handles. It’s got crank windows and manual door locks, too – same as the entry-level trims on competitors like the Toyota Yaris and Kia Rio – while A/C is a $1,000 option. Driver adjustments are old-school: The steering wheel tilts, the chair moves only forward or back. A driver’s seat height adjustment? Cruise control? Fuggedaboudit.
A five-speed manual transmission is standard. Upgrading to the automatic costs $1,000 but first requires you to add A/C, and at that point you’re spending $12,000. Antilock brakes run an affordable $250 regardless of other options — a nice touch, considering some competitors require you to move up to higher trim levels to get ABS. Oh, and audiophiles do have some recourse: There are four speakers and stereo pre-wiring so you can throw in an aftermarket unit on the cheap.
The Versa 1.6 goes on sale later this month; more details below.
Total out the door with A/C, automatic transmission and ABS: $12,935.
Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey