2012 Nissan Versa: Up Close

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Nissan’s redesigned Versa subcompact sedan isn’t a particularly alluring car, but that bland exterior hides an impressively large cabin.

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Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares said the Versa’s styling provides a “sophisticated, upscale feeling,” but the design has an anonymity that looks ready to blend into the crowd like a Toyota Yaris. There’s hope for the enthusiast buyer, though, as Nissan says the next-generation Sentra compact car, which is coming soon, will cater to them.

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The distinction between the two will be important because the new Versa is nearly as large as the current Sentra. This results in a Versa cabin that’s roomier than you’d think, especially in back. I checked out the backseat and had legroom to spare. Amazing. Interior materials quality, meanwhile, is basic, reflecting the car’s low base price of $10,990.

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Design has become a differentiating factor in the subcompact segment with models like the Ford Fiesta entering the fray, but if you’re looking for an efficient, roomy low-cost new car — and not much more — the Versa is for you.

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Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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