The temperature is rising, clouds dot the blue sky, and a gentle breeze is cruising through. We’re on a warm, sandy beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the Tortuga Music Festival is in full swing and the all-new 2020 Nissan Versa just made its debut.
Adapting styling elements from its bigger siblings, the Maxima and Altima, this fully redesigned third-generation Versa seemingly got itself a CrossFit membership—it’s looking more toned than ever as it prepares to take on the Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio, and Hyundai Accent. In addition to its new sheetmetal, the 2020 Versa struts into the subcompact-car segment with redesigned wheels, a fresh interior, and more technology and safety features. We’ve also dotted the story with images comparing new car with old, and it’s clearly a big upgrade.
The completely redesigned Versa sports Nissan’s “V-Motion” grille, boomerang-shaped headlamps, gloss-black exterior accents, black mirror caps, and an upgraded set of 10-spoke wheels. It also gets kicked-up C-pillars with black trim in the style of the Maxima. The wheels are pushed farther toward the corners, and dimensionally, the small four-door is 2.0 inches wider, 1.5 inches longer, and 2.0 inches lower than before, the latter measurement in particular helping it look less awkward than its predecessor. Nissan is offering eight exterior colors, including Electric Blue Metallic, Monarch Orange Metallic, and Scarlet Ember Tintcoat.
Under the Hood
The 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is redesigned and is a tad more powerful, now making 122 horsepower versus 109 before. The transmissions once again include a CVT—likely standard on all but the most basic trims—and a five-speed manual is still on the docket, so there’s that.
Technology and Features
Available features include Nissan’s Safety Shield 360, which includes front, rear, and side monitoring. Other available safety technologies include blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, drowsy-driver detection, and radar cruise control. Every 2020 Versa will include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high beams. And for those who need to stay connected, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. Options also include automatic climate control and heated seats, while proximity entry and start and power windows are standard.
Pricing and On-Sale Date
Although the previous Versa was known for being the cheapest car you could buy in America, Nissan hasn’t released any pricing information on the new car. That info and EPA fuel-economy information will be announced closer to when the 2020 model arrives at dealerships this summer.
The Subcompact-Sedan Segment
Why redesign your subcompact sedan in a market that’s buying fewer cars—particularly small ones—as it demands ever more crossovers and SUVs? Nissan believes that as other automakers abandon the segment, it wants to expand its segment-leading market share. Millennials and Gen Xers are among the groups still buying sedans—with more than five million sedans sold in the U.S. annually, Nissan believes there’s still a place at the table for the Versa. There’s no word yet on if a replacement will be coming for the Versa Note hatchback, which rode on a different platform and is being discontinued.