Performance » 6
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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
The Versa's 109-horsepower four-cylinder howls loudly if you push it, and highway acceleration is modest.
The strut-type front suspension, the torsion-beam rear axle, and the rear drum brakes are engineered for dependable long-haul service not driving euphoria.
Car and Driver
This engine was perfectly capable of getting the Versa up to freeway speeds, just not quickly.
Not only is the modest engine livelier than expected, the steering is firm and direct, the brakes — despite a slightly soft pedal feel — grab surely and the chassis is composed and confidence-inspiring in most maneuvers
Acceleration is even more of a challenge on the freeway, where passing should only be tried if the guy in front of you is wearing a Rex Harrison hat and driving an Oldsmobile 98 with a busted right blinker.
It's clear that interior space and value were priorities over performance when Nissan worked to redesign the Versa. Many subcompacts have been given more behind-the-wheel verve, but the Versa isn't one of them.
A 109-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine powers all Nissan Versa models; there's no direct injection here, but it does have a dual fuel-injection system plus twin continuously variable valve timing. Base S Sedans include either a notchy five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic transmission (new this year), while most of the model lineup includes a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
While we haven't spend enough time with either the manual or the automatic, the new-generation version of the CVT has a wider span of ratios; while that helps it achieve better mileage. But with slow 0-60-mph times of around 11.5 seconds and especially sluggish response for quick bursts of passing or merging power, the Versa remains among the slowest small sedans on the market.
There's not much else to add enthusiasm. The electric power steering system is light and precise, as well as easy to place on tight city streets, but it stays too light at highway speeds and requires constant small adjustments. All models come with anti-lock front disc and rear drum brakes.
You'll find the 2013 Nissan Versa just able to merge safely and keep up with traffic alright, but there's nothing to get excited about.