$8,545 - $12,270

2016 Nissan Versa Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Nissan Versa was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 6.4

Most auto journalists report that the 2016 Nissan Versa offers driving dynamics that are acceptable given the Versa's low-price. The four-cylinder engine delivers decent power for everyday driving, according to critics, though they say it can struggle when driving up hills. Reviewers think the optional CVT is very noisy during hard acceleration. The Versa's steering and brakes feel too light, test drivers write, though a few appreciate the Versa's tight turning circle and comfortable ride.

  • "Nissan's 2016 Versa compact sedan isn't going to win much praise from those who think compact cars should be quick and fun to drive. But, for commuters, college kids and first-time buyers, the Versa's comfortable ride, peppy engine and slick-shifting 5-speed manual transmission will probably win two big thumbs up." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The Versa is also pretty uneventful to drive. Rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic and 2015 Ford Fiesta feel more alert and engaging when you're behind the wheel, for instance, and the Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent are quicker to accelerate." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • Driving the Versa feels rather average. The CVT allows power to flow to the front wheels fairly smoothly. The engine is short on horsepower but tries its best to keep the little vehicle gliding along at highway speeds. We can't really complain about the driving characteristics of the Versa given its affordability, but driven back-to-back with the competition, the Versa's drawbacks are revealed." -- AutoTrader (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Versa is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 109 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while either a four-speed automatic transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT), a type of automatic, is available. The base Versa with a manual transmission earns an EPA-estimated 27/36 mpg city/highway, which is average for the class. Models equipped with the CVT earn up to 31/40 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for a subcompact car.

Test drivers write that the Versa has enough power for daily driving, though some note it struggles going up hills and it doesn't accelerate very quickly. Many reviewers say the optional CVT makes a lot of noise under heavy acceleration and that it revs the engine higher than you might be used to.

  • The Versa's available CVT automatic transmission, on the other hand, takes some getting used to. It doesn't use conventional shift points and causes the engine to rev high more often than one might expect. Of course, with only 109 horsepower on tap, getting the Versa to move quickly often requires nailing the gas pedal to the floor, but once underway the little Nissan scoots along just fine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 109-hp four-cylinder engine can keep the car moving with traffic-barely-but the continuously variable transmission makes the engine moan and drone a dissonant song at a constant, unpleasant volume during acceleration." -- Car and Driver (2015)
  • On the road, the 2015 Nissan Versa sedan's 1.6-liter engine is pretty unremarkable, but acceleration should be sufficient for most buyers." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • Predictably, acceleration from the 109-hp I-4 is best described as adequate. We didn't have a chance to drive a Versa Note S with the five-speed manual, but our SV and SL test cars with the CVT were well matched for duty on both the streets and freeways of San Diego. However, the powertrain labored on the large hills of the Pacific Coast Highway." -- Automobile Magazine (2014)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers agree that the Nissan Versa's steering provides very little feedback, however, they appreciate its small turning circle. They add that the ride is comfortable, with a few saying it's more comfortable than some rival subcompact cars. Test drivers report the brakes are too soft.

  • "Suspension revisions seem to have tidied up the handling a bit and the ride quality is plush despite the car's torsion-beam rear suspension, but the steering is woefully numb and overboosted. And braking is nearly as leisurely as acceleration; stepping on the brake pedal feels akin to pressing a spatula into a bowl of mashed potatoes." – Car and Driver (2015)
  • The Versa's suspension is tuned for comfort, and the result is a smooth ride quality that many subcompact models can't match. On the other hand, the small Nissan's steering and handling are pretty uninspiring compared with most competitors." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Though its road-going behavior will never be called exciting, the Versa is an easy car to drive and maneuver. The steering is light, its turning radius is tight, and visibility is very good from the driver's seat." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)

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