2007 Nissan Versa

After teasing us with several small-car concepts over the past two years, Nissan finally has announced a sub-Sentra car that actually will reach production in mid-2006 as a 2007 model, but it's not as cool as any of those concept cars. Instead, we'll get the Versa, which debuts in Detroit and is essentially the Tiida that already sells in other markets. Nissan first will bring the hatchback in the summer of 2006, followed by a sedan a few months later.

The Versa will be powered by a 1.8-liter four cylinder making about 120 hp and delivering up to 38 mpg when mated to the optional CVT. Prices will start at about $12,000. Side air bags will come standard, while side-curtain bags will be an option, along with Bluetooth phone connectivity and satellite radio. These features should help it stack up in the booming cheap car category, which is filling with new or updated entries such as the Honda Fit, the Toyota Yaris, the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio, and the Chevrolet Aveo.

Nissan has made it clear that the Versa will not be its only sub-Sentra car, so look for the Cube (Nissan's take on the Scion xB, but you probably gathered that from the name) to arrive here by the 2008 model year.

The Versa will join Nissan's 2007 lineup, which also includes all-new Sentra (also debuting in Detroit), Quest, and Altima models, along with a face-lifted Maxima. The Sentra originally had been scheduled to debut for 2006, but Nissan delayed its introduction for a year to tweak the car's styling and performance.

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