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2012’s The Bad 8 – Nissan Versa Sedan


2012 Nissan Versa Sedan

It worked fairly well the first time around, so Nissan stayed true to practice with the second-generation Versa sedan by making it as ugly as possible. 

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Where the first Versa sedan was devoid of styling, as though Nissan simply put the body panels where they had to go, this second car appears to reflect an effort to actually design an awful car. But unlike those spectacularly beautiful photos of repugnant oil rigs in the North Sea, Nissan didn’t pull off any tricks with the 2012 Versa sedan. It’s plain repugnant, and not spectacularly beautiful in any way.

Much would be forgiven if the Versa was a terrific car to drive. It is not. The 109-hp engine is no longer class competitive. The interior looks like the interior of a subcompact car at a time when other subcompact cars like the Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, and Ford Fiesta possess interiors worthy of a pricier segment. And 38 miles per gallon on the highway? What is this, 2009? 

The game has moved on. Other automakers are scoring touchdowns with their subcompacts. Nissan hasn’t even made it to the red zone.


Alternatives: How ’bout a 1999 BMW 528i Touring for $5900? Or, if you must go new, consider the well-equipped Kia Rio hatchback. Or anything that isn’t a Nissan Versa sedan.

Base USD/CAD Price: $10,990 / $11,798

It Sucks, But… it has headroom! As if you need the so much surplus headroom that your car looks like a blob.

Sales Stats: Year-over-year, U.S. Versa sales were up 15% in August, 68% in September, 47% in October, and 38% in November as the newer, even uglier, very inexpensive Versa sedan took over from the Bad 8-winning old Versa sedan. Monthly and yearly sales figures for the Nissan Versa sedan and hatch can be viewed here.

  1. You might not like it, maybe it's the worst in similar new cars, but it's outselling everyone else. Why? Iguess it's the size and the price, someone buying a cheap car wants a cheap car, if they want more the would go forthe Civics Focus etc.

  2. Interesting review of the Versa. The author doesn't like it for the exact reasons I bought it. I previously had a Hyundai Accent base, but I found the styling of the new Hyundais objectionable when it came time to replace it. I found the more conservative shape of the Versa comforting. The inside of the car is spacious, the back seat has more leg room than most any car I have ever been in. The trunk is cavernous. The car seems to have more ground clearance and the driver's seating position is notably higher than similar compact cars. The small engine runs smoothly and routinely delivers well over 40 mpg with the 5 speed manual. The air conditioning is strong and the radio works well. I drove off the lot for $12,900 including taxes, title, regie, so what's not to smile about?

  3. We just bought a 2012 Versa SV sedan & we like the look over the old design Versa. The headroom & the huge back seat leg room alone sells this car. The reviewer obviously has a bias against this car but i learned a long time ago that what matters is what I think about the car & I think it's a good looking car & $4000 less than a Hyundai Accent that has a smaller back seat area. We have 2 6ft sons & they can both fit in the back seat, there are NO other sub compact cars that can say that

  4. Howard this is a great description of the Versa & my sentiments exactly. I orignally wanted to get a Hyundai Accent sedan but the price was higher & the back seat leg room seemed smaller than the Versa. I have a 2009 Versa Hatchback also that I bought new & have driven it everyday for 3 years with no problems & we used it this past August for a family vacation & all 4 of us adults fit in it comfortably, not too many other sub compacts can say that. The car is designed for Versatility/Practicality #1 & looks #2 which I like for a change.

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