2012 Nissan Versa arrives for ten bucks less than $11,000

The world of bargain new cars hasn't been known for style. Or engineering. Or really any favorable attributes outside of supporting impoverished foreign workers. Yet the 2012 Nissan Versa sedan suggests cheap and attractive might not be mutually exclusive.

On sale this summer with a base price of $10,990, the Versa sedan is a new design that compacts the front end while lengthening the back overhang. Nissan says the result is a compact car with more rear legroom than the Lexus LS460, BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Why someone would want to test that assertion in the real world was not addressed.

Motive forces for the Versa sedan arrive from a redone 1.6-liter four cylinder that pumps 109 hp, tied to either a five-speed manual or a new continuously variable transmission, a unit Nissan says can return 33 mpg combined.

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Of course, this being a new car built in 2011, it must also offer the full roster of electronic entertainments, up to satellite radio and a navigation system. Nissan didn't release the price for a loaded Versa sedan, but given how many buyers put a priority on technology in vehicles, the first bargain-basement car with an optional iPad isn't far off.