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Despite less-than-glowing reviews, Nissan‘s Versa sub-compact continues to dominate its segment. In December, Nissan moved 9,939 Versas, nearly double that of its nearest competitor, while giving the Versa an incredible 24.2 percent market share dominance in a segment that is populated by 13 models.
Thanks to the addition of the new Versa sedan, sales for the sub-compact hit a record in 2011 with 99,730 units moved in 2011.
The Versa’s main competitors in the sub-compact segment include the Chevy Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta and Fiat 500. Compared to the Versa’s impressive 9,939 December sales figure, Chevy sold 5,743 Sonics, Hyundai sold 5,316 Accents, Honda came in with 5,138 Fits, Toyota’s Yaris sold 4,514 units, while Ford moved 3,673 Fiestas. Coming in last for Nissan’s comparison was Fiat’s 500 with 2,325 vehicles.
Along with a 30-mpg city rating and 38-mpg highway number, perhaps the biggest reason for the Versa’s success is the lowest MSRP in the market, starting at just $10,990.
There hasn’t been a lot of buzz generated around the new 2012 Nissan Versa since its unveiling back in April at the New York Auto Show, so it’s completely understandable if one were led to believe that the Versa will manage limited success. On the other hand, Versa’s biggest competitor Hyundai Accent set off to an early lead as Hyundai managed to move a thousand more units than any subcompact, including the Versa, in its first full month of sales.
Surprisingly, this has become the perfect example of the tortoise and the hare as numbers now show that as of August, the 2012 Nissan Versa is the new best-selling subcompact in the United States– trumping the Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Chevrolet Aveo and Toyota Yaris.
This isn’t necessarily to say that the Nissan Versa is a superior product, but as it is currently the least expensive car sold in North America at $10,990, individuals who buy the Versa won’t be too concerned about performance specs anyway. As for the numbers, the 2012 Versa comes with a 1.6 liter I-4, producing 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque. The CVT helps to optimize the Versa’s efficiency, achieving 30/38-mpg city/highway.
GALLERY: 2012 Nissan Versa/Sunny
The 2012 Nissan Versa does something rare, though not entirely unexpected these days: it gets bigger and gains a surprisingly slick interior, but keeps its $10k sticker.
Nissan’s smallest car gets completely redesigned to target the global market: the V platform (V for “versatile,” in Nissan marketing-speak) will be sold around the world as the Tilda, Versa, or Sunny. And like the previous model, it will still be built in Mexico.
Under the hood, the Versa gets a new 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that produces 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque. Transmissions are a 5-speed manual and the Xtronic CVT, a revised example of Nissan’s long-standing experiments with variable transmissions that gets a broad gear ratio of 7.3:1 and an auxiliary gearbox with planetary gearing. How’s the mileage? 33-mpg combined, and a 37-mpg highway rating that isn’t bad but lags behind that of its Fiesta and Accent competitors.
During its redesign it gets 90 cubic feet of room and a trunk big enough to attract the attention of mob bosses—at 14.8 cubic feet, it is cavernous. Inside, the Versa is available with a touch navscreen, satellite radio, and standard radio aux/USB interface.
And mercifully, the styling is less frumpy than the outgoing model, inside and out—the interior gains soft curves and bulging knobs that at least don’t look as cheap, and the exterior gains some brightwork and a long rear end that belies its $10,990 price.
GALLERY: 2012 Nissan Versa at the New York Auto Show
Nissan is working towards building a new global small car that will be sold in North America under the Versa. In many ways a successor to the Micra, which Nissan does not offer in the U.S., this new small vehicle platform will spawn a small sedan, hatchback and a multi-purpose vehicle.
Nissan is aiming to grow its share of the small car market and sell as many as one million units globally of this new “V platform” vehicle. Currently Nissan’s B Class vehicle, the Versa, is quite large for its class, which leaves room for a smaller car.
The Japanese automaker is keeping tight-lipped about the new car, but has said that it will be offered with a 3-cylinder engine. It is not known if that engine will be offered in North America. The company did release several design sketches of what the vehicle could look like. Production of the new model is expected soon with sales in the U.S. starting as early as 2011.
As for pricing, considering the base model Versa now starts at $9,990, expect a starting price below the $10,000 mark.
GALLERY: Nissan Global Small Car Concept
[Source: Autmotive News]
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