Eric's Autos: 2021 Nissan Versa
Under the Hood
Every Versa is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine -- which is a bigger engine than the 1.5-liter four that came in the '90 Civic -- and a much bigger engine than the 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that comes in the '21 Mirage G4.
It produces 122 horsepower versus 76 horsepower for the Mirage and manages to almost match the Mirage's class-best 35 city and 41 highway mpg without making you wait 12.8 seconds to get to 60 mph.
The Nissan gets there in 9.7 seconds, a speedy-in-comparison time, especially in light of the Versa's ability to travel 32 miles on a gallon of gas in city driving and 40 on the highway -- with the optional CVT.
It's a tighter race with the Hyundai Accent, which is equally engined (1.6 liters) and almost-equally powered (120 horsepower) and gets to 60 about as quickly while also managing 33 city and 41 highway mpg with its optional CVT automatic.
On the Road
It's a little strange driving a car when almost everyone else is driving a crossover, an SUV or a truck. But there are advantages to being lower to the ground, including inherently greater stability when cornering or at high speed, as well as higher fuel efficiency at highway speeds, due to lower aerodynamic drag.
It's interesting to compare the Versa's mileage with the much lower mileage delivered by small crossovers such as the Honda HR-V, which peaks at 28 city and 34 highway mpg. It takes more energy to push a taller shape through the wind.
At the Curb
Is it a subcompact? Only if you go by exterior dimensions relative to today's definitions.