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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“Keeping the car going straight required constant sawing of the steering wheel”
pleasingly smooth 1.8-liter four
“it wasn’t terribly fun”
Car and Driver
The common theme of reviews read by TheCarConnection.com is that the 2010 Nissan Versa has adequate power, but the sporty reflexes of other Nissans are absent. In short, it’s not exactly a fun car to drive. While the new 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine provides both the fuel economy and the performance you’d expect from an engine producing 107 horsepower, even the mightier 1.8-liter engine struggles to impress some reviewers.
Regarding the 1.6 Sedan, Automedia.com comments, “When coupled with the five-speed manual and a skilled driver, it provides peppy acceleration. No downshifting was required to easily keep pace with interstate-highway traffic.” Other reviewers aren’t as kind—“the engine is buzzy, the ride at 80 mph is choppy and the car was all over the road on regular commutes,” says AutoWeek, adding that “keeping the car going straight required constant sawing of the steering wheel.” The positive aspect from the same reviewer is that the Versa “is frugal on gas and will help owners feel like they are reducing our country's dependency on foreign oil. And it comes with a factory warranty.”
According to Edmunds, the 1.8-liter engine delivers "122 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque," which they assert is good enough for "adequate" acceleration. However, ConsumerGuide says that "manual- and four-speed-automatic transmission versions feel labored and weak at low speed," although "hatchbacks with the CVT" are "livelier from a stop." In ConsumerGuide testing, a Nissan Versa 1.8 S with manual transmission "did 0-60 mph in 9.5 seconds."
Reviews of the transmissions read by TheCarConnection.com show mixed impressions, but the CVT scores well across the board. Cars.com reviewers say "the Versa's CVT is seamless; most buyers probably won't even notice they're not driving a regular automatic." However, Edmunds recommends the "six-speed manual," provided "you don't mind shifting your own gears." They also note that the standard "four-speed automatic" is the weakest transmission choice, as the CVT "has an edge over the automatic in both performance and fuel economy." Car and Driver feels that the 1.8-liter engine in the SL trim Versa “wasn’t terribly fun” to drive, thanks to “the miserable droning of the engine that comes courtesy of the pulley tranny”. Automotive.com reports, “When you stomp on the gas pedal the sound of the engine revving instantly before the car accelerates, a phenomenon of the CVT, can be a bit disconcerting at first. We found it not unpleasant, in fact it sounds kind of fun. In regular stop-and-go traffic under slow acceleration there is no sensation other than the car moving forward smoothly with no sound or feel of shifting gears.”
The soft suspension on the 2010 Nissan Versa hurts handling, but it does make the car “surprisingly comfortable and reasonably well damped and sprung, at least for this class," according to Car and Driver; ConsumerGuide adds that "it imparts a comfortable and controlled ride on most surfaces." Car and Driver also finds that "steering is modestly communicative," but the braking on the 2010 Nissan Versa "is well behind the competition, as is pedal feel." Edmunds comments that "the car feels tall and out of its element when going around corners, a quality accentuated by the Versa's considerable body roll and slow steering."
EPA estimates for Nissan's 2010 Versa are somewhat disappointing, and reviewers observe even fewer miles per gallon. For the 2010 Nissan Versa, the EPA estimates that CVT-equipped vehicles will return 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, while automatics should achieve 24/32 mpg, and manuals 26/31 mpg. ConsumerGuide reviewers states that, during testing, "an SL sedan with the CVT averaged 24.5 mpg in mostly city driving," while a "test S hatchback with the 4-speed automatic averaged 24.8 mpg."
The 2010 Nissan Versa performs adequately, but in a leisurely and pedestrian manner, and it doesn’t pay off at the pump as well as it should. Those who expect at least a little excitement will be disappointed.