The Nissan Versa and Versa Note are the best-selling subcompacts in the U.S. marketplace. As we talked about in our review of the 2015 model, the Versa has an excellent combination of interior space and technology features, as well as a low price tag that helps make it the top seller in the class. But there are a few black marks for the Versa, such as an anemic powertrain, lackluster exterior styling and mixed ratings in crash tests.
So are there any alternatives to the best-selling Nissan Versa? We have three subcompact cars that are worth a close look if you are considering the Versa.
Our first alternative is the Honda Fit, which is considered by many to be one of the most versatile subcompacts on sale today. While the 2015 Fit is slightly smaller than the Versa in terms of passenger space, the model more than makes up for that in terms of how the space is used. In particular, the Fit’s clever rear seat design allows it to be setup in different configurations to carry various types of cargo.
Power comes from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice of either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine feels quite punchy and delivers impressive fuel economy numbers of 32/38 mpg city/highway, or 35 mpg combined.
Downsides? Sadly the Fit only comes as a hatchback, which will disappoint some people. Also, the touch-screen radio isn’t most intuitive since it uses touch points instead of traditional buttons and knobs. These touch points don’t always recognize when they have been pressed, meaning you have to hit them a few times to get it to work.
The Honda Fit pricing kicks off at $15,790.
Kia Rio and Rio5
Are you looking for a bit of style to go with your subcompact? Then the Kia Rio is very much worth a look. Both the hatchback (Rio5) and sedan feature design elements that are seen on models from Europe such as smooth curves and flowing lines. The interior continues that with the use of soft-touch surfaces and faux metal trim.
Helping the Rio is an impressive kit of standard equipment. All models get heated sideview mirrors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, a USB jack and satellite radio. For most, we would opt for the EX trim that adds power locks and windows, cruise control, Bluetooth and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
Power comes from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard on the base model, while a six-speed automatic is an option (standard on the remainder of the range). This engine has more than enough grunt to get you moving at a quick pace. The Rio’s downfall is that a lot of wind and road noise enters the cabin, and it uses more fuel than some competitors with an EPA-estimated 27/37 mpg city/highway, or 31 mpg combined.
The 2015 Kia Rio sedan and hatchback both start at $13,990.
Are you looking for some variety in your subcompact when it comes to engine choices or models on offer? Then the Ford Fiesta is worth a close look. The 2015 Fiesta comes as either a four-door sedan or a hatchback, along with the choice of two engines. The base engine is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. Next up is an optional turbocharged 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder with 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. With fuel economy ratings of 28/38 mpg city/highway, or 36 mpg combined, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost is the one to go for if you are being thrifty.
Now those who want a bit a sport should look at the Fiesta ST. This hot hatch gets a number of changes under the skin, including a turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque. Other positive points to all Fiesta models include a well-appointed interior and a list of optional extras that make it feel more expensive, such as a Sony sound system.
The downsides to the Ford Fiesta begin with the model not feeling as spacious as many of its competitors. Also, the optional automatic on the base model feels a little unrefined when it goes through the gears. Those hoping for an automatic on either the EcoBoost model or the Fiesta ST will be disappointed as they only come with a manual transmission.
The Ford Fiesta starts at $13,965 for the sedan and $14,365 for the hatchback.