The 2008 Versa sedan and hatchback are Nissan's entry-level models, slotted below the Sentra. It offers energy-, budget-, and safety-conscious consumers inexpensive entry into one of the safest and smartest small cars on the market.
With respective S model base prices of $12,630 and $12,730, and SL prices of $14,630 and $14,730, buyers get a strong 1.8L inline four making 122 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque and plenty of amenities usually reserved for more upscale segments. The six-speed manual transmission is standard on all models, while the four-speed automatic adds $800 to the base S and the Xtronic CVT is a $1,000 option on the better-equipped SL. The automatic is not available in SL trim.
Notable standard equipment on the S includes power mirrors, air conditioning, a CD player, a tire pressure monitor, and six air bags. The SL models feature 15-inch alloy wheels, upgraded cloth seat trim, power accessories, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, and an auxiliary audio input jack. A 60/40 split rear seat is standard on all hatchbacks and on the SL sedan.
A Sport Package in SL trim adds fog lights, unique fascias front and rear, lower body sill extensions, and a rear spoiler, while a Convenience Package adds Bluetooth and remote keyless entry and ignition. A Power Package can be ordered on the base car, and it installs power windows and locks, plus a remote keyless entry system and more. A sunroof, XM satellite radio, and a Rockford-Fosgate subwoofer are available on the SL, and the S now has available cruise control.
The 2008 Versa retains its functionally intuitive cabin design, making control of all dials and knobs a snap for driver and passenger alike. The car returns impressive fuel economy in all trim levels, with a model-best 27 city/33 highway coming from the CVT-equipped SL.
In safety tests, the Versa's combination of standard and available safety features can't be beat. Dual-stage front air bags, roof-mounted front and rear curtain air bags, active head restraints and ten other features come standard, while an ABS package with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist can be added for $250.
The 2008 Nissan Versa scores a five-star rating in NHTSA side-impact crash tests and the Insurance Institute of America gave the Versa its top score in frontal-offset and side-impact tests.