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#24

in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $8,745 - $11,700
Original MSRP: $9,990 - $17,410
MPG: 26 City / 34 Hwy
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2011 Nissan Versa Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

For such an inexpensive car, the 2011 Nissan Versa is a capable performer. While its acceleration isn't particularly exciting, the Versa handles well for its class and is considered fairly fun to drive.

  • "It offers the small-car virtues of nimble handling, easy parking, and lively yet efficient performance." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Adequate but not inspiring handling and power." -- Car and Driver
  • "Versa's engine is buzzy in rapid acceleration but is subdued otherwise. The quiet highway ride is disturbed by modest wind noise from the mirrors and some coarse-surface tire thrum." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Versa does have a bit of go-go under its belt, albeit in a way that shows this is not a high output ride." -- Left Lane News

Acceleration and Power

No one is going to mistake the Versa for a sports car, but it still has decent pickup. The base engine is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 107 horsepower. Higher trims offer a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 122 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the 1.6 BASE and 1.6 sedans. The 1.8 S models get a standard six-speed manual, and the 1.8 SL gets a standard four-speed automatic. Overall, reviewers prefer the manual transmissions.

According to the EPA, the Versa gets up to 28/34 mpg city/highway. 

  • "Manual- and 4-speed-automatic transmission versions feel labored and weak at low speed. Lots of shifting of the manual is required for maximum acceleration; an S model so equipped did 0-60 mph in 9.5 seconds. SL hatchback with the CVT feels livelier from a stop and provides acceptable passing response." -- Consumer Guide
  • "We've been pleased with the Versa. It has plenty of zip and there's no problem merging into traffic on a fast free-flowing freeway." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Good throttle response makes for fairly quick getaways from the stoplights. But surprisingly, you get decent mileage numbers too." -- Left Lane News
  • "The five-speed manual in my test car was easy to operate thanks to a light clutch and if you keep the revs up the Versa will handle interstate entrances with aplomb." -- MarketWatch

Handling and Braking

Reviewers applaud Nissan for the Versa's handling capabilities. In particular, its tight turning radius is a reviewer favorite, and something that's helpful in tight urban spaces.

  • "On winding roads in Tennessee, near where Nissan is building its new U.S. headquarters, we found the car's handling to be perfectly adequate. It's not sporty like a Mini Cooper, nor is it sloppy like budget cars of a few years ago. Sporty drivers might wish for more feedback from the steering and more power, but there's no reason for others to complain." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The steering is precise, with little tire squeal and moderate-at-worst body lean in fast turns. Tidy dimensions aid close-quarters maneuverability. Braking control is good." -- Consumer Guide
  • "As we've come to expect from Nissans, the Versa is certainly above average in the handling department. Accomplishing quick lane changes and maneuvers, the light steering worked fairly well, showing just a minor amount of side-to-side wallowing. While not in the league of the Nissan GT-R, it still provides reliable transportation with good return on mileage." -- Left Lane News

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