$6,988 - $9,749

2013 Nissan Versa Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Nissan Versa was new.


Performance: 6.5

Reviewers note that the 2013 Nissan Versa doesn’t have lofty performance aspirations, but they also say that the Versa’s tight turning radius and confident handling make it fairly easy to drive. Still, one reviewer notes that if you’re looking for an engaging driving experience, the Versa may fall short of your expectations.

  • "For a basic economy car with no overt performance pretensions, Versa is nimble and fun to drive." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Though its road-going behavior could be described as bland at best, the Versa is an easy car to drive and maneuver." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Vanilla, but solid and confident. That might sound damning, but Versa delivers precisely the pleasant character a mass-appeal car should." -- Popular Mechanics (2012)
  • "The driving experience is acceptable but wholly unremarkable.” – Automobile Magazine (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Nissan Versa is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 109 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. A four-speed automatic transmission is optional on the base model, while all higher trims come with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The EPA reports that the 2013 Versa gets up to 31/40 mpg city/highway, which is slightly better than competitors like the Chevrolet Spark, Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Golf TDI.

Test drivers refrain from calling the 2013 Versa quick, but most agree that its four-cylinder engine provides adequate acceleration in most situations. One reviewer notes that the Versa’s engine builds power in a smooth, progressive manner, while another notes that the CVT does an excellent job of transmitting power to the front wheels.

See the full 2013 Nissan Versa specs »

  • “Throttle response is very good, and power builds smoothly, if not quickly.” -- Consumer Guide 
  • "With only 109 horsepower, the 2013 Versa sedan's acceleration ability is just barely adequate for getting up to speed on freeways." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "We've lambasted other manufacturers' attempts to pair a hard-working four-cylinder engine and elastic CVT, but Nissan nailed it again. ... The Versa's engine and transmission work in quiet harmony to deliver an adequate amount of acceleration with a minimum amount of drama." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Though the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at just 109 horsepower, it moves the Versa with verve and rarely feels challenged in urban or freeway driving." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (2012)

Handling and Braking

While one reviewer noticed a little body lean around corners, most critics say 2013 Versa offers comfortable and predictable handling. More than one auto writer comments that the Versa’s brakes are strong and effective, and that its accurate steering and tight turning radius make the Versa an easy car to maneuver.

  • "The steering is precise, with little tire squeal and moderate body lean in fast turns. Tidy dimensions aid close-quarters maneuverability. Braking control is good." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The Versa's steering is light, its turning radius is tight, and visibility is very good from the driver's seat." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "I drove it on a racetrack, surely the last thing any real owner would do, and found it offers accurate steering, a compliant yet composed suspension, and resilient brakes (at least resilient enough for the 109-hp engine and 2360-pound curb weight)." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "Brakes remain vented discs up front and drums in the rear, and Continental ContiPro Contact low-rolling-resistance all-season tires (185/65R15) are also carried over. And the combination works very well." -- Edmunds (2012)

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