The lone engine choice is a revised 1.6-liter four-cylinder that is lighter and now features dual variable-valve-timing, resulting in two extra horsepower (for 109 total) but a loss of four pound-feet of torque (down to 107.) The old Versa's optional 1.8-liter engine vanishes from the order sheet. Base models come with a five-speed manual, but all other trims have a continuously variable transmission. Fuel economy is predicted to climb to 30 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The car is the first to wear Nissan's new Puredrive labeling -- like BMW's EfficientDynamics tag, it will be applied to vehicles with the brand's most fuel-efficient technologies.
The Versa is stratified into three trim levels, each with one available option package. The S model, expected to ring in at just $10,990, won't have much more equipment than ABS, stability control, side and curtain airbags, 15-inch steel wheels, and a CD player, with an option pack to add cruise control. Next up the ladder is the SV, which adds cruise control, chrome grille trim, power mirrors, power windows, and better seats. The Convenience Package supplements it with a better audio system, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, steering-wheel audio controls, and map lights. Finally, the top-spec SL gets alloy wheels, fog lights, a split-folding rear seat, chrome door pulls, and the electronics from the SV Convenience Package. It can be upgraded with the Tech Package, which bundles a touchscreen navigation system and satellite radio.
The new Versa will arrive at Nissan dealerships this summer. If stickers for the 2011 model are anything to go by, the new sedan is unlikely to break the $18,000 mark -- and the stripped-out S is said to start just under $11,000. For now only a sedan has been announced, but a hatchback may follow later -- after all, most of the Versa's competitors offer a choice of both bodystyles.