I expected more from a nissan. It has been in the shop over 5 times in the first year to fix missing interior part, mysterious cluck in the front steering, air conditioning problem and hard to start at first until a part was replaced. All covered by warranty but that runs out soon and I can't wait to find out what breaks next. I would have rated it lower but my wife is too nice.
I did my research, and discounted the Fit, Yaris etc in favour of the Versa bc of horsepower, room and the Nissan reputation. It exceeded all my expectations at first - fun to drive, reliable, good fuel economy, easy to handle. Then winter hit. In cold, wet weather, I would come out to the car and find ice all over the dash, controls and inside of the windows and windshields. The controls wouldn't work and the doors wouldn't shut. Warming it up - no change. Getting it fixed at the dealer proved extremely problematic ie. didn't happen - cost to me to fix was quoted at $5-10K. I just traded it in for a 2009 model - hoping for better this time around. It'll likely be my last Nissan too.
Big on the inside, small on the outside; great fuel economy, easy to handle.
It shouldn't be the customer's issue to have to fix something like I had - it shouldn't happen at all.
We went looking for a small, reliable car with a/c with a strong preference for a hatchback. We focused on the usual suspects - Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Scion whatever, Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe. Then we saw the Versa at a Hertz sales lot, liked it, researched it and could buy it for $3,000 under KBB. Negatives are rear visibility and stability in cross winds. A big positive is roominess whether carrying four people or two people and two bicycles - they fit in all the way without having to take off a wheel. When we bought we would have preferred a Matrix if the money was close to the same. That would have been a mistake.
Quietness compared to the competition. I am hearing impaired and could not converse in our old Civic. In this I can. CVT once we got used to lack of growl. Room, room, room, room.
Rear visibility. There is really no excuse for it. Make it easier to turn off the wipers.
I traded in a Hyundai Santa Fe on this car back when the gas prices skyrocketed. I was told I would get 35 mpg. Not. I gave up many extras that I had on the Santa Fe (heated seats, leather interior, etc.) Not worth it. I drive 42 miles round trip to work 5 days a week and get about 28 mpg. I make a 5-6 trips from Cincy to Columbus (about 200 miles) and only get 29-30 mpg. This may not seem like a lot but I would have been better off with the Hyundai, it was paid off.
keyless entry and ignition
heated outdoor mirrors and auto dim rearview mirror standard
I bought a modestly equipped Versa as an extremely economical choice. It was the most affordable 5-door that wasn't too small, but I was dissatisfied overall. A mediocre suspension, poor 6-speed shifter and unsupportive seats made an unrefined ride. Mine got poorer than average MPG despite a light foot. The brakes squeaked from the first day and were never repaired to my satisfaction. Nissan even distributed a note to dealerships to excuse themselves from this problem. In other words: Versas squeak. Too bad. If you want a low cost Nissan, buy the Cube instead.
The rear door design makes for easy access to the roomy back seat. The styling is conventional, but that's a good thing. Not everyone wants a small car to look tricked-out.
Better suspension is needed badly. Offer the CVT in a lower priced package. Redesign the door armrests to be less intrusive into the cabin. Better brakes are mandatory. Include the auxiliary input on the base audio system (that alone not worth $300 more without other audio package upgrades).