Unless something happens between now and next week, this is my penultimate COAL entry. It’s about my 2007 Nissan Versa hatchback.
Before we get to that, I think it’s worth talking about the lengthy and varied list of cars I’d driven up until this point. From two-door coupes to SUVs, the average length of time a car has remained in my possession has been annoying short, if you ask my wife. With the Versa, I set out to change that. While rather basic and boring, the hatchback ticked off some important boxes: it was safe, economic and low maintenance.
I got a good deal on a used example, and thought I would be set for the next 7-8 years. Turns out, the universe didn’t agree, but more on that in a minute.
In a nutshell, the Versa is just a rebadged and reconfigured Nissan Tiida. The Japanese car was assembled in Mexico for the American market, while this little world car can be found across Asia and Europe as well.
Here in the States, the 2007 was the car’s debut. It shipped with a DOHC 1.8 L four banger putting out 122 hp. My S model came with AC, but no cruise control. It did come with a nasty habit of losing hubcaps over the slightest potholes. I ended up pulling the two I had left off, driving around on the black steelies. It matched nicely to the sparse, cheap interior.
The higher-end SL would ship with cruise control and and alloy wheels, as well as an optional continuously variable transmission.
Many, many words have been spilled on the pros and cons of the CVT. A friend of mine’s Versa SL had one, and I found it very disconcerting to drive. The lack of feedback given by the somewhat unrefined automatic transmission I was used to was more than a little uncanny.
All in all, my Versa delivered on its promise. It ran well, sipped gas and the hatchback proved to be handy when we needed to use it to transport our growing family. Car seats were easy to get in and out, and with the seats folded down, I could pack in more than you’d think in terms of cargo.
While I certainly didn’t love this car, it served me well, and I thought we’d be together for a long time.
Yep, same bike as last time.
That’s when I was in the first accident. On the way home one night from work, someone changed lanes into the front quarter panel of the Nissan. Her much bigger and much heavier Audi was more or less fine, but my little car was towed away. Damage came in just shy of the percentage of the car’s value to be totaled, so it was repaired and returned to me. The shop did a good job, but the surgery was extensive, including a bumper, headlight, quarter panel, hood and a whole mess of suspension components.
While the car drove like-new when I got it back, my faith in our future was shaken. Nine months later, the dream would come to an end. I was sitting still on the interstate in traffic when the guy behind me got rear-ended by a driver at speed. The resulting end-to-end collisions totaled four cars and damaged two more. As mine was right in the middle of the line, it was last to be towed away. I knew it was probably dead when I couldn’t open the rear doors. I managed to pry the hatchback open to get some stuff out of it and noticed the floorboard was bowed up.
Image via Wikipedia
After a few days, the shop called and made it official: the Versa was dead. I got a check in the mail, and went shopping, yet again.