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2021 Nissan Versa: Quick Review & Essential Guide

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Auto123 test drove the 2021 Nissan Versa. Here’s what you want/need to know.

The Nissan Versa received a significant makeover for 2021 in comparison with the Versa Note variant sold previously (the sedan was last available in Canada in 2014). This is good news for those looking for what was for so long one of the most popular vehicle types in Canada, that of the affordable small family car. One of the biggest joys of this model still existing is that it now makes available to consumers on a budget the type of features that just a few years ago were the sole purview of luxury models.

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2021 Nissan Versa SR, front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Nissan Versa SR, front

The exterior

- Nissan has extensively updated the design of the exterior. The car sits lower to the ground and stretches longer and wider. If you’ve seen the changes given to other of Nissan models like the Sentra recently, that’s what’s going on here. There are niftier headlights, a ‘sort-of’ floating roof and Nissan’s staple V-motion grille.

- The 4-cylinder engine is different than the Versa used before, so the car gives you more power and torque.

- There’s no longer a hatchback variant for consumers to pick, so the sedan’s it.

The interior

- There’s more room inside for front-row occupants; the second row is more snuggly but it’s acceptably roomy. The seating, particularly in front, is improved, providing more comfort; thankfully, Nissan has given the model its Zero-Gravity seats. Overall, note that the Versa has slightly more total cabin space than the Toyota Corolla.

- Note as well that no trims get power-adjustable seats; it’s manual all the way here.

- The materials and quality of construction feel far more upscale than in previous editions of the Versa.

2021 Nissan Versa SR, interior
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Nissan Versa SR, interior

The versions

- The S trim base version gets a starting price of $16,498, with a manual gearbox; with the CVT transmission that rises to $17,998. (In all cases, freight fees of $1,670 are not included). It comes with: 15-inch steel wheels, cruise control, three USB ports, 4-speaker audio, fog lights, 7-inch multimedia screen, emergency front/rear braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and high-beam assist. The version with CVT adds heated mirrors and fold-down rear seats.

- The next step up the ladder is the SV, available only with the CVT, and it starts at $19,498. It comes with: 16-inch alloy wheels, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic warning, driver alertness monitor, rear-door alert, heated front seats, configurable instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio and voice recognition.

- At the top sits the SR (our tester), which also comes only with the CVT, and gets a sticker price of $20,998. It comes with: 17-inch wheels, LED headlamps, remote starter, proximity key, leather-wrapped steering wheel and upgraded upholstery.

The powertrain

- The Versa once again gets a 1.6L 4-cylinder engine, but it’s a new one and it delivers more horses (122 hp instead of 109) and torque (114 lb-ft instead of 107) than the previous edition.

- While a manual is still the default transmission with the base model, a CVT is optional on that version and the only choice with the other two trims. Nissan has tweaked that much-derided CVT to make it scream at drivers less when the engine is pressed hard, but that has only mitigated the problem, not eliminated it.

- Official fuel consumption ratings for the 2021 Versa (with CVT) are 7.4L/100 km (city), 5.9L/100 km (highway) and 6.7L/100 km (combined)

2021 Nissan Versa SR, profile
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Nissan Versa SR, profile

The drive

- As befits an affordable small family car, the Vera is nimble and quite quick in the urban environment. Accelerating up to higher speeds is another matter, but you won’t be panicking on the highway on-ramp either. And once you’re on that highway, the car feels assured and reassuring.

- The “new” CVT is noticeably improved, but it will still dawdle near the RPM red zone is you’re too aggressive with the gas pedal.

- Ride smoothness is maybe where the “lower-end” status of the car shows through most. The Versa doesn’t smooth over road imperfections as well as models higher up the food chain will.

The competition

Kia Rio
...and... that's it.

2021 Nissan Versa SR, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Nissan Versa SR, three-quarters rear

2021 Nissan Versa - specifications

...Transmission6-sp manual / CVT 
 DrivetrainFWD 
  ManualCVT
 Fuel Consumption (city)8.6L/100 km7.4L/100 km
 Fuel Consumption (hwy)6.7L/100 km5.9L/100 km
 Fuel Consumption (combined)7.7L/100 km6.7L/100 km
    
 Engine  
 TypeGas 
 Output122 hp 
 Torque114 lb-ft 
 Cylinders4 
 Displacement1.6L 
    
 Capacities  
 Cargo space425 litres 
    
 Dimensions  
 Length4495 mm 
 Width1740 mm 
 Height1465 mm 
 Wheelbase2620 mm 
    
 Warranty3 yrs / 60,000 km    
 Pricing$16,998 to $30,998 

 

2021 Nissan Versa SR, rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Nissan Versa SR, rear

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Photos:D.Boshouwers
2021 Nissan Versa pictures