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Andre S.

Small used hatchback: Versa vs Golf vs Mazda 3 vs ...

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Just spent the day out trying cars. Well, 2 Versas that is.

First guy was a used car dealer selling a too-good-to-be-true 2012 6050km Versa S at 11000$ (Canadian). The full warranty had been canceled due to some "small collision accident", which I find hard to believe. They didn't have a Carproof report or any apparent history, and they were not terribly talkative either. The guy wouldn't bother to let me test drive it because it wasn't my "final choice" (wtf). Needless to say, they're not on the list anymore.

Second guy was the nearest Suzuki dealer with a sweet 2009 55000km SL at 10000$. They immediately proposed a test drive. I wasn't too impressed with getting summer tires on a -16C day; on snowy streets I barely had any traction or brakes. It did reveal that the ABS system was working wonderfully however. Then I went on the highway, and putting some stress on the brakes at higher speed on clean asphalt made the whole thing vibrate. When I could talk to the dealer he said brakes indeed needed changing along with a few minor things which I didn't have to pay for. The "link kit" needed changing and that was something I'd have to pay for however (200$), because they didn't deem it crucial.

The car only had one owner, a woman, who rented the car for 4 years. The vehicle could possibly have suffered minor damage but nothing affecting the frame. Since they're not Nissan they don't have access to certain data like if the airbags ever went off, that's all stored electronically in the car apparently. The guy went over the whole Carproof report explaining everything, as well as their own initial inspection report.

They give me 5% financing over 72 months, but I'll probably end up paying it over 24 to reduce interest, just because I can.

If you can find any argument to lower the price on that vehicle that would help me directly :) So far this vehicle is the best compromise between features (ABS, Cruise), mileage and price I could find. They of course wanted to make me sign immediately, but they had the vehicle since November of last year so it's not like it was gonna go out tonight. Hopefully I can get similar deals elsewhere (working on that tomorrow, going to a Nissan dealer) and bargain them down against each other.

Btw my choice of model is really the Versa SL now. I'm 6'2" and with the front seat pulled back completely, I still have plenty of space in the back row behind it, both in front of my knees and above my head. Heck there's less room than that in way larger cars! Between the S and the SL my choice goes to the SL, I'd really miss cruise control and seeing how ABS let me brake with old summer tires on hardened snow at -16, I want ABS now. It's about a 1500$ premium on average over the S, I think it's worth it.

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how tall/big are you? if you can fit Honda Fit, which is cheap btw, then take a look.

I don't like the Honda Fit, it's 2-3000$ more expensive on average with less passenger room. I am tall. I like that seats fold completely in the floor which is great for putting large objects in the back but it's not like I was often going to do that.

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Dr. Asik, great work on finding a vehicle that you like. I was a little bit confused when you started the topic as the Mazda3, Golf, and Versa, aren't even the same class of vehicle. The Versa is more along the lines of a Yaris or Fit than the Mazda3 and Golf -- but the Mazda3 and Golf are more traditional compacts and as such, don't have the creative cabins that the sub-sub-compact's have.

As per other's suggestions, before you buy, I would try the Yaris as well as the Fit, as those two are the vehicles in the same class -- have the tall-cabin design and are the main competitors for the Versa. If you're considering the Mazda3 and Golf, then Nissan's Sentra offering is the cross-class competitor. That explains the price differential between the Mazda3/Golf and the Versa, as well.

The Mazda2 is the Mazda competitor to the Versa, as well Chevy produced the Aveo. Stay FAR FAR away from that car.

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... yeah I guess I should consider the Fit. It's actually not that bad in interior size. And the Yaris. It just cubes the complexity of the optimisation problem of finding the best vehicle at the best price while satisfying dozens of constraints with very limited time, when I know very little about cars in general. I suppose by restraining myself to the Versa I was attempting to simplify the problem, but perhaps I'm missing on better choices that way. Sigh.

The Versa is roomy enough that it compares more with compacts than sub-compacts (it sits ambiguously between the two categories), that's why I was looking at the Mazda 3 and Golf rather than other sub-compacts. For instance I wouldn't even consider the Mazda2, the rear seat is way too cramped.

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The Fit is surprisingly versatile for its size -- don't let its exterior fool you. Its a great car, really a classic Honda to drive. You got to live with one to appreciate it. That said, 117hp isn't a whole lot to go with.

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Just went to a real Nissan dealer today, had 2 interesting Versas there. One 2010 almost new at 13000$, one 2008 77000km at 8800$. The more I look at it the more I think I can get something very good under 10000$ and I shouldn't spend more. Obviously the newer one will have a better resale value in 2 years, but I'm thinking of keeping this 4-5 years at least, so in the end it won't matter much.

For 8800$ that 2008 gives me a CVT (!), Silver color (the best IMO), Cruise control, ABS, tinted windows, a 6 CD changer, brand new Nissan front brakes, mags, vehicle fully inspected on 155 points (not just the security inspection), height adjustable front seats, adjustable driving wheel, air conditioning, etc., vehicle is certified to have had no accidents, only one owner, 5% financing over 48 months but if I want to pay faster to avoid interest I can as much as I want so it's flexible.

About the CVT: I had read several bad opinions about it, but I personally found it delightful. It's every bit as responsive if not more responsive than the 4-speed automatic I'm used to, and it delivers incomparably smooth accelerations from 0 to 65. Obviously this is good for the engine and fuel economy. It's certainly not fast or exciting though.

Only shadow of doubt about the car right now is that it vibrated significantly at 120km/h on the highway, the dealer's telling me that's because there was ice in the mags. I asked for another test drive with the car pre-heated, he agreed and I'll be able to verify that on Monday. Mags are apparently a cool-looking feature in summer but not great when it freezes. To this end I'm getting a set of rims as well, which should end up saving me on changing tires every year.

I liked that the guy didn't try to push me into a sale agreement on the spot unlike the Suzuki guys I dealt with yesterday, and even agreed to reserve the car for me over the weekend.

At this point I might go check out the Fit tomorrow if the dealer's open, but I doubt I can get half the features I get on a Versa for that price.

Did I mention the room inside the Versa is amazing? I sat in a 2013 Maxima which is a mid-size luxury car, and it had way less headroom than the Versa. Ditto for the Sentra. I honestly would rather sit in a Versa than a much larger luxury car, for the comfort, it's ridiculous.

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Just went to a real Nissan dealer today, had 2 interesting Versas there. One 2010 almost new at 13000$, one 2008 77000km at 8800$. The more I look at it the more I think I can get something very good under 10000$ and I shouldn't spend more. Obviously the newer one will have a better resale value in 2 years, but I'm thinking of keeping this 4-5 years at least, so in the end it won't matter much.

For 8800$ that 2008 gives me a CVT (!), Silver color (the best IMO), Cruise control, ABS, tinted windows, a 6 CD changer, brand new Nissan front brakes, mags, vehicle fully inspected on 155 points (not just the security inspection), height adjustable front seats, adjustable driving wheel, air conditioning, etc., vehicle is certified to have had no accidents, only one owner, 5% financing over 48 months but if I want to pay faster to avoid interest I can as much as I want so it's flexible.

About the CVT: I had read several bad opinions about it, but I personally found it delightful. It's every bit as responsive if not more responsive than the 4-speed automatic I'm used to, and it delivers incomparably smooth accelerations from 0 to 65. Obviously this is good for the engine and fuel economy. It's certainly not fast or exciting though.

Only shadow of doubt about the car right now is that it vibrated significantly at 120km/h on the highway, the dealer's telling me that's because there was ice in the mags. I asked for another test drive with the car pre-heated, he agreed and I'll be able to verify that on Monday. Mags are apparently a cool-looking feature in summer but not great when it freezes. To this end I'm getting a set of rims as well, which should end up saving me on changing tires every year.

I liked that the guy didn't try to push me into a sale agreement on the spot unlike the Suzuki guys I dealt with yesterday, and even agreed to reserve the car for me over the weekend.

At this point I might go check out the Fit tomorrow if the dealer's open, but I doubt I can get half the features I get on a Versa for that price.

Did I mention the room inside the Versa is amazing? I sat in a 2013 Maxima which is a mid-size luxury car, and it had way less headroom than the Versa. Ditto for the Sentra. I honestly would rather sit in a Versa than a much larger luxury car, for the comfort, it's ridiculous.

He's not lying about ice in the alloys... What the ice will do is it will unbalance the rim. Each rim is balanced with lead weights to make sure that it spins true, and ice stuck in them can throw off that balance. Before you buy, ask them to store the car indoors to melt it, and then find out if it still shakes. Make sure you do it.

You sound like you're big on the Versa, and you're right -- the Versa is a very budget minded car. You're getting a lot of options that you wouldn't otherwise see on the higher priced Honda. The Yaris is quite feature packed as well, but if you're going to go Yaris, I'd recommend a brand new one (which can be had for about 15k + tax, but that's a base model). I'm partial to a Honda Fit with a 5spd manual transmission as I much prefer feeling my car, as well as enjoying the drive. For the type of driving I do, the 5spd Fit would be perfect (I have a 2000 Subaru Legacy, AWD with a 5spd manual, so I'm pretty happy at the moment) but if I was buying new, I'd go Fit or New Yaris... Because you've found a car with all the options you want, THAT should be your main goal is working yourself into that car. I always thought that, oh, I won't miss feature A, or feature B, and then I ended up wrong... Buy EXACTLY what you want. Don't compromise. If fun spirited driving isn't your thing, but toys and such are, then go for that. That Nissan sounds LOADED and sounds like a great deal for the price. It all comes down to the one you can live with the best. If you're niggling about space in the Fit, you'll be niggling about it a year from now and it'll only wear on you -- so go with what feels the best!

I've never driven the Versa, but I have driven the Sentra -- and I HATED it. Hopefully the Versa isn't the same.

Good luck, and make sure you take TONS of pics when you finally decide! Car buying is so exciting.

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He's not lying about ice in the alloys... What the ice will do is it will unbalance the rim. Each rim is balanced with lead weights to make sure that it spins true, and ice stuck in them can throw off that balance. Before you buy, ask them to store the car indoors to melt it, and then find out if it still shakes. Make sure you do it.

Yes, that is already planned :)

The Yaris is quite feature packed as well, but if you're going to go Yaris, I'd recommend a brand new one (which can be had for about 15k + tax, but that's a base model).
I can't afford to buy new anyway. Any reason why you wouldn't recommend buying one used?

Because you've found a car with all the options you want, THAT should be your main goal is working yourself into that car. I always thought that, oh, I won't miss feature A, or feature B, and then I ended up wrong... Buy EXACTLY what you want. Don't compromise. If fun spirited driving isn't your thing, but toys and such are, then go for that.
Thanks for the advice. I'm just wondering if I'm not sacrificing reliability too much for all these accessories. For instance there's a another 2008 Versa at the same price but with half the mileage and half the options on it. Wouldn't it be more reasonable to give up cruise control and adjustable seat height for a vehicle that has much less overall wear? At the same time I know the vehicle has been and will be again, thoroughly inspected, and is on full warranty until June (and engine and transmission warranty until 2015), and I can always buy more warranty on it, and nothing guarantees the one with lower mileage won't have issues either.

For the record I love driving and if I was mainly going to drive this alone on twisting roads I'd totally get the Fiesta or such sporty drive instead. Given my main usage scenarios however - slow-moving rush hour traffic daily commute, and hauling 3-4 people to go out skiing/hiking, the spacious comfortable Versa wins.

Good luck, and make sure you take TONS of pics when you finally decide! Car buying is so exciting.
Thanks for the tips, very appreciated!

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The thing about CVT is that they usually don't last longer than 150,000 km.

The service book in the car might actually tell you exactly when the manufacturer recommends to replace it. And it's a good resource overall to get an idea of what kind of expenses await you in the future.

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The thing about CVT is that they usually don't last longer than 150,000 km.

That's ok, I'll probably sell the vehicle before that. I plan on doing max 15000km/year. Once cash has started rolling in and I don't have too many outstanding expenses, say in 3-4 years, I'll probably trade the vehicle in for a brand new or as-new car, maybe another Versa (the hatchback is seeing a very cool redesign this year).

Oh yeah also the CVT is guaranteed until 2018 or 200000km. :)

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This is slightly off topic, but coming out of a degree with $10k to spend on a car, how different things are in the US! You'd be lucky to afford a car at all after you finish Uni in the UK, never mind having somewhere to live for when you start working, and even then that'll be around

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Paid internships in Software Engineering + low tuitions fees (Quebec, Canada, not US) + no girlfriend = money left in the bank ;)

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Itll take a while Ill warn you :)

Im looking at pretty much the opposite used car: Big car, 4 door, big ass........

Hard to find good and trusty deals these days

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Paid internships in Software Engineering + low tuitions fees (Quebec, Canada, not US) + no girlfriend = money left in the bank ;)

Hahaha not bad at all, I've got the cheaper end of tuition fees (I started 4 years ago now, so still on

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Now drive it like you stole it :D lol.

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