2012 Nissan Versa Hatchback priced from $15,140

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 19, 2011

Nissan North America said that the 2012 Nissan Versa hatchback is priced $240 lower than the previous model. This year’s base model is priced at $15,140 (inclusive of a $760 destination charge). The base 2012 Versa hatchback has an added element of vehicle dynamic control. Also now offered as standard is Nissan's stability control system, which was only offered at a higher trim level at the previous model.

Other standard features include a four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, 15-inch wheels and antilock brakes. Further options include Nissan Intelligent Key that allows drivers to start the vehicle by pressing a button on the instrument panel, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, XM Satellite Radio, an in-dash 5-inch touch-screen navigation system and a six-speaker audio system with a USB input for iPods and other compatible devices.

The hatchback is powered by a new 122-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that returns 26 mpg city/31 highway. This rating is the same as last year's model. The Versa sedan, which sells for $11,750, will start selling in early August. In the first half of the year in the U.S., Nissan sold 45,886 Versas, standing for a 16% drop from the same period last year.

When designing a compact sedan, one of the biggest hurdles is deciding where to put what. This is not limited to the people or even the cargo, but also includes the engine, its transmission, and even the other mechanical parts. In most cases, what companies do is to put an inch there, some inches here, and hope that it results to something beneficial. For the 2012 Versa Sedan, Nissan took a different, and somewhat radical, approach.

In addition to having a new drivetrain and platform, the company also lessened the weight of the platform, lowered the amount of component parts, and reduced the size of both the engine and the transmission. Castignetti explains that while it is uncommon to use a new platform for a car that is still in the second generation, with the company’s practice of innovation, it was not difficult to make such a decision. For the front-wheel drive Versa Sedan, the company used the "V" platform. The "V" stands for Versatile and when compared to the "B" platform of the prior model, this new platform is lighter by 150 pounds and uses almost 20% less platform components.

In terms of length, it is shorter by 0.6 inches at 175.4 inches with height lower by 12 inches at 59.6 inches. However, width is still the same at 66.7 inches and the wheelbase is the same at 102.4 inches. However, the most obvious change is the longer length of the trunk. The overhang in the rear, which is the length from the rear tire’s center up to the rear bumper, experienced a gain of 2.7 inches. This was possible since the engine and the transmission were designed to be compact.

New in the Versa Sedan as well is the exterior design. Unlike what other compact sedans are offering, the 2012 Versa Sedan delivers a new and energizing design character that is extremely aerodynamic and at the same time classy. In order to attain this fashionable appearance, the designer made sure that the shape of its exterior would provide a powerful sense of volume. It would also have a sleeker profile and wider width for the shoulder. According to Castignetti, this new model is not only attractive as it also boasts a highly luxurious style.

What is surprising, Castignetti adds, is that despite the starting MSRP of $10,990, it has contemporary dynamic proportions without it being too gimmicky and this projects a design value that is higher than what one may expect. The front end has the signature of the brand which is the sedan grill design and its jewel-like headlights. This same front end is able to efficiently merge with the cabin and its flowing curves. Aerodynamics is outstanding as coefficient of drag is at 0.31 and made possible through various design elements like how the trunklid was formed. Other features in the interior include the fascia of the front and rear having the same color as the body, and a fixed roof antenna.

Available as well is the B-pillar that has been blacked out, the grille with the chrome accents, door handles in chrome, and the fog lights in the front. For the exterior, eight colors are offered where seven of which are Blue Onyx, Brilliant Silver, Fresh Powder, Magnetic Gray, Metallic Blue, Red Brick, and Super Black. The eighth is Titanium, which has been exclusive to the Nissan GT-R in the past. Castignetti reveals that for the 2012 Versa Sedan, both the design team and the engineering team worked together to give a level of sophistication that is not only seen but felt as well. Castignetti continues by saying that this gives this vehicle that modern value that is above the purchase price, something one would expect from sedans that are more expensive and even larger.

Further, to make sure that functionality remains excellent, the two teams focused on new ideas even at the initial phase. The sweeping roofline for example has in the middle of it an indented line that was put there not only for aesthetic purposes. It has a functional purpose as well as it lowers the amplitude of the vibrations in the roof panel. This results in a cabin that is quieter and that won’t need any reinforcement mechanisms like mass bumpers. Castignetti continues by saying that as it relates to the aerodynamic efficiency and the packaging, the 2012 Versa Sedan is proof that not every sedan is created equal.

It is true for the engine as well, he adds, as it is able to balance superb performance, a quiet and smooth operation, and responsive power. Powering the 2012 Versa Sedan is a second-generation engine, particularly a 4-cylinder 1.6-liter HR16DE unit. It also includes a wide array of pioneering technology. As such, this is considered at the top of its class for having one of the most advanced powerplants there is.

A standard engine for instance, in order to inject fuel, utilizes one injector for every cylinder. For the new 2012 Versa Sedan, the engine fitted inside it has two streamlined injectors that have been mounted close to each cylinder’s inlet valve. Because of this dual injector system, the engine is able to have a wider fuel injected to it. The use of smaller nozzles allow for finer spray resulting in a more stable combustion. The spray is in fact finer by about 57% compared to the particle size of the single injector of the first generation. In addition to being lighter and compact, the engine is fitted with the twin Continuously Variable Timing Control system or CVTC.

In standard vehicles, the CVTC system is mounted to the intake port alone but for the 2012 Versa Sedan, it is on both the intake port and the exhaust port. As a comparison, this is the same set-up that is used for the Nissan Maxima. Since the outlet port has a CVTC, it helps boost the thermal efficiency, lowers the inhalation resistance, and enhances fuel efficient by as much as 4%. The engine also has other improvements like tuning of its piston top shape and the piston oiling jet. Furthermore, the diameter of its exhaust manifold has been expanded.

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