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Nissan Versa And The Ford Focus

NISSAN VERSA Class: Sub-compact Sedan Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive Starting price: about $10,900 The totally new Nissan Versa pushes the value envelope


The current Versa from Nissan is offered in both a sedan and a 5 door hatchback. The hatchback is by far the most popular model. The combination of a low price and a large interior has won it many fans. For 2012 Nissan is retaining the hatchback but introducing a totally new and stylish Versa Sedan.

The new sedan is a world car and is already on sale in places like China. It is sweeping and stylish, yet for a small vehicle the interior is positively cavernous. This car offers so much headroom that even a prom-queen style hairdo will fit with ease. In automotive-speak it’s technically classed as a sub-compact, but it feels and drives much larger than that.

The interior is precise, neat, but not plush. Yet it has some upscale hardware that make it feel, well… upscale. The interior is well thought-out, nicely executed and has a presence befitting a larger car.

Most sub-compacts don’t offer much in the way of creature comforts. The Versa does. Steering wheel controls allow you to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel when you set the cruise control and work the audio system. Bluetooth hands-free technology is also available. An audio system with XM radio, a simplified navigation system plus active traffic and active weather are offered. USB and iPod connectivity allows you to bring thousands of your favorite songs, books or speeches with you.

The new Versa actually has a smaller 1.6 liter engine with 109 horsepower. The name of the game today is better fuel economy so smaller cars and smaller engines are in vogue. The new Versa is not a rocket ship by any means but it will move you down the road quite efficiently. A 5-speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission is offered. The car is capable of a very high 38 mpg highway and a 33 combined average fuel economy rating.

The Versa is nimble and responsive, and if you opt for the CVT transmission the drive is stress-free and seamless.

The Versa offers a full suite of safety equipment making it a leader in this class of car. This includes six airbags, a strong body shell, traction control and anti skid braking.

The value proposition is even stronger than before with this vehicle. The $10,990 starting price includes air conditioning, an aux-in plug, and a 5-speed manual transmission with very high fuel economy numbers. That’s a lot of car for not very much money.

FORD FOCUS Class: Compact Sedan Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive Starting price: about $16,500 The Focus comes just the way you want it


The Focus has been a dutiful defense player on Ford’s domestic team for decades. Historically, compact cars in North America have not been the big profitmakers and consequently have not gotten their fair share of developmental dollars. In Europe however, where fuel prices have been high for decade, small cars are the focal point and are well-developed high tech vehicles.

With high gas prices domestically, the automotive world has changed. Now trucks and big SUVs have been benched and small, fuel-efficient compacts are the new quarterbacks of the team.

Consequently, Ford has introduced a totally new highly efficient Focus. What is remarkable about the car is the amount of developmental resources that have been lavished on this model. It represents the best efforts of the Ford worldwide family. It’s as though they have taken most of the luxury items and technology of larger, more expensive Ford vehicles and compressed them all into the compact Focus. A list of available features on this vehicle will illustrate.

Keyless entry, remote start, rain sensing wipers, stability and traction control, active park assist (Ford’s self-parking technology), front and rear warning sensors and a backup camera. Additionally, 18-inch aluminum wheels, a spoiler, tilt and telescoping steering wheel plus a MyKey programmable system that limits vehicle speed and audio settings for teen drivers have been added. Technology offerings include Ford’s SYNC system, HD radio, Sirius satellite radio, Sony 10 speaker audio plus a full big-screen navigation system. Oh, I almost forgot the power moonroof and leather seating.

This broad array of automotive niceties added to a well-designed vehicle makes for a car that will have extremely broad appeal in the market. To add to the choices, Ford will be offering an enlarged and taller version of the Focus called the C-Max.

The powertrain choices are no less impressive. The base engine is a very fine 2.0 liter 4 cylinder that produces a healthy 160 horsepower. It is offered with either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic which delivers up to 37 mpg on the highway. A special high fuel economy version, the SFE, has a 40 mpg rating.  Additionally Ford is tooling up a plant to build Hybrid, plug-in Hybrid and full battery electric versions of the Focus.

The new Focus is bigger than the Fiesta yet smaller than the Fusion. It is large and capable enough to be the sole transportation of a family and is capable of handling everything from daily commuter chores to town and country driving and even cross-country road trips.

The Fusion comes in two body styles — a sedan and a 5-door hatchback — with trim levels ranging from the standard S to the upscale Titanium.

Ford has a lot riding on the Focus, but I think they have read the market correctly and it will be a very popular car.

Visit MyCarData.com for more information on these models.


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