Only 1 Subcompact With a Manual Transmission Is Recommended by Consumer Reports

Manual transmissions are getting rarer and rarer these days. Most drivers are fine with an automatic, but some folks want to own a car with a manual. Unfortunately, if a new car has a manual option, it’s probably either a bulky pickup truck like a Ram 1500 or a small and cheap subcompact car like a Mitsubishi Mirage. The good news is that there is one subcompact car recommended by Consumer Reports that can come with a manual transmission.

Manual transmission stick shift in black.
Manual transmission stick shift | Getty Images

According to Consumer Reports, there are currently three cars in the subcompact segment offering a manual option, but two of them are pretty bad. Those two cars are the Chevy Spark and the Mitsubishi Mirage. The best thing about these two cars is how extremely affordable they are. The Mirage starts at roughly $14,600, while the Spark begins at about $13,600.

Both options can come with a manual transmission, but Consumer Reports recommend neither. In fact, the Spark is the second-worst car in the segment, while the Mirage is the worst car overall. One of the main reasons both cars didn’t do well is because neither is sporty.

The Chevy has a 1.4-liter four-cylinder that gets 98 hp, while the Mitsubishi has a 1.2-liter three-cylinder that gets 78 hp. It takes both cars over 12 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph. As such, owners are unlikely to get much fun from getting the manual option on these two cars.

The Nissan Versa is a great subcompact car with a manual transmission option

In comparison, the Versa is the best subcompact car in the segment, and it’s why Consumer Reports recommended it. This subcompact Nissan will be slightly more expensive than the Mirage or the Spark, but not by much. It starts at just over $15,000, so it’s not a huge price for a much better quality car.

In terms of its engine, it’s no Lambo, but it’ll come with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that can be paired with either a CVT or a five-speed manual transmission. This engine gets 122 hp, making it more powerful than the Mirage or the Spark. The Nissan will go from 0 to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds. That’s not breaking any records, but it is several seconds faster than what the Chevy or the Mitsubishi can do.

This engine will also allow the Versa to get a good fuel economy of about 32 mpg combined. Consumer Reports also liked the controls on the car, and the fact that Nissan gave it automatic emergency braking as standard is great, too. However, this little Nissan is by no means perfect.

The Nissan Versa has some issues though

Although the Versa is notably better than the Mirage or the Spark, Consumer Reports wrote it had several flaws. While the Versa can be a decently fun subcompact car to drive around, it won’t be the most comfortable or luxurious experience. That’s because its seats just aren’t that comfortable and are rather basic. The rear seats are also not an easy fit for taller passengers.

Its ride quality is another issue, as passengers will easily feel the bumpy road that they’re on. Lastly, another problem with the Versa has to do with its engine noise. The engine can get pretty loud when the car is accelerating, which can be unpleasant for folks inside the car.

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