Nissan’s biggest news at the New York auto show is small in scale, but important in terms of a market segment that’s likely to expand in direct proportion to escalating fuel prices. Meet the 2012 Versa sedan, the second generation of Nissan’s four-door subcompact. While it will again have a five-door hatchback sibling, Nissan is spreading the auto-show love and brought only the sedan to New York. Riding on a new architecture with new sheetmetal and a revised engine, the 2012 Versa is about as new as new gets in the car biz.
Describing the new Versa’s shape as forgettable might sound like a backhanded compliment, but let us explain. The front-end styling of the original Versa drew catcalls and Bronx cheers from just about everyone everywhere it went. So the good news with the redesign is that the first gen’s jack-o-lantern visage is gone, replaced by a much more conventional design similar to other contemporary Nissans. It suffers from a certain degree of inconspicuousness, but, on the other hand, it can’t be called ugly—and it manages to look like a bigger car.
That’s a tribute to the design, because at 175.4 inches overall, the 2012 car is actually 0.6 inch shorter than its predecessor. The illusion is probably rooted in the proportions. Nissan has reduced the front overhang, added 2.7 inches to the rear overhang (which pays off in trunk space), and reduced the Versa’s height by 1.2 inches, bringing it down to 59.6. Inside, Nissan claims the new sedan’s rear seat provides more legroom than a BMW 5-series’, a Lexus LS460’s, or a Mercedes E-class’s. Nissan lists total interior volume at 90 cubic feet. And speaking of volumes, the new car’s trunk expands to 14.8 cubic feet, versus 13.8 for the current sedan.
That’s all thanks to the Versa’s new foundations. Although its wheelbase, width, and track are unchanged, Nissan insists that the architecture is new—specifically, that it is a new global platform, V (replacing B). The V platform is simpler than the structure it replaces, using 20 percent fewer components, with a corresponding reduction in curb weight of 150 pounds, a laudable achievement in an age of steadily escalating mass (in response to steadily escalating safety mandates from NHTSA).
Thanks to: Car and Driver