It was an open secret behind the scenes of the Canadian auto industry, and now it’s no longer a secret at all. We learned at the Toronto auto show today that the Nissan Versa is making a comeback after a few year away from the Canadian market.
With the departure of the Micra, the Japanese automaker found itself without a representative in the subcompact segment. Considering the base of buyers loyal to that cause, Nissan felt it couldn't really abandon the niche and simply hope that Micra buyers would migrate to the new and bigger Sentra.
And so a new Versa enters stage left. And although the car belongs to the sub-compact category, the model that should debut this summer is a spacious vehicle. Cargo space, for example, is 425 litres - quite generous for this category.
The cabin is just as open in feel, especially in the back. The presentation is also better than in the past; you'll recall Nissan failed experience with the Versa sedan that was introduced in 2011. The hatchback variant, the Note, had a more successful career.
And kudos to Nissan for integrating the multimedia system screen into the dashboard. Are we witnessing a return to aesthetic intelligence in cabin design? This much prettier approach adds a touch of class to the presentation.
Nissan's new entry-level car shares its platform with the Kicks SUV, and in fact the wheelbases of the two models are identical. The Versa also gets the Kicks’ 122-hp, 1.6L 4-cylinder engine as well as its Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Note that the CVT is an option, as the base version is equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission. That CVT functions with simulated gears, and we can only hope the recipe is tastier this time around, because currently the CVTs in operation in Nissan vehicles are still resolutely noisy and unpleasant. Fingers crossed.
When it comes to safety, the Versa will also stand out with a host of features. In fact, all the elements of the Nissan Safety Shield 360 package will be available. We still await details on just how the product offering will be put together, but we expect to be reporting on that and on pricing a little before the model debuts this summer.