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The base Versa S now offers a trunk light and can be had with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Top-trim SL models receive a trunk-release button on the key fob, sun-visor extensions and a driver's seat armrest. A rearview monitor is added to the tech package available in SL models.
For 2010, the Versa gets a slight freshening, sporting a new grille, new seat fabric, new wheel options and a white illuminated meter cluster. The SL trim gains an iPod interface, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and traction control, as well as last year's Sport Package as standard equipment. New options for the SL include a cool navigation system retailing for around $600 that includes XM NavTraffic real-time traffic alerts.
Even more than the new Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit, Nissan's Versa is a small car with serious passenger space and an affordable price. Positioned above the Nissan Sentra, it's also among the first smaller cars to offer a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Several automakers, including Nissan, foresee a comeback in entry-level compact carstriggered largely by rising fuel prices. "For the first time in many years," said a Nissan senior marketing manager, many shoppers are "giving serious consideration" to smaller automobiles. These marketing folks detect a "void" in the sub-$14,000 price range, noting that a new generation of young people, known as "echo boomers," will reach driving age soon. Nissan promises class-leading horsepower and torque for its new entrant, the Versa hatchback, along with generous interior space. Billed as a "no-compromises" value-priced offering that reaches beyond basic amenities, the Versa is surprisingly roomy inside. A sedan is due later.