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Nissan Hosts September Luncheon. Members get an in-depth look at the Nissan Versa

By Giulianna D. Levin – Photos by Pepe Delfino

A full house was in attendance at Sra. Martinez restaurant in the Miami design district for the September SAMA luncheon sponsored by Nissan. In fact, the 51 members and guests present for the event just may have been our largest attendance yet for a regular monthly event!

After a delicious lunch featuring plate after plate of tapas, members got a preview from Mark Perry of Nissan’s new Versa sedan as well as receiving an update on what Nissan has planned in the future.

Perry, Director of Product Planning for the manufacturer, reported that Nissan’s market share was up 0.4 percent for 2010 with North American sales up 18.0 percent. In the calendar year through June 2011, sales are up 16.5 percent.

Among recent awards, the Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle was named 2011 World Car of the Year at the New York Auto Show, and the city of New York selected Nissan NV200 as is “Taxi of Tomorrow.”

Perry also presented the 10 things you should know about the all-new 2012 Versa:

1. Versa carries an MSRP of $10,990

2. That gives it the lowest starting price of any of its competitors but is a “real car” with A/C and radio standard.

3. EPA ratings are 38 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined highway and city.

4. It has more space-per-dollar in class, with best-in class rear legroom.

5. It has best-in-class trunk space.

6. It is built on Nissan’s new global “V” platform (about 150 pounds lighter than the previous generation.

7. The engine is a new 1.6-liter with dual fuel injectors, twin CVTC.

8. The engine is mated with a new 2nd generation CVT with sub-planetary gear set.

9. The new Versa is the first U.S. product to wear PUREDRIVE badge (cars with better than 35mpg)/

10. The Versa features a high level of comfort, convenience, available technology.

By using a smaller engine (without sacrificing power), the new Versa has a shorter front, and longer rear, providing ample space in the second row, without giving up trunk space. The second row seating is said to provide more legroom than the Lexus LS460, BMW 5-Series, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

In a brief business session, President Paul Borden reminded members that nominations for 2012 officers will be in October. Members are encouraged to get their nominations ready. Paul will not be eligible to serve as president next year per SAMA by laws.

Treasurer Marcello Serrato informed the members that the treasury is doing well and we have two new members, Monica Puig of Latin Biz magazine and Michael Block of Orlando Auto Examiner. Marcello is also working hard with the board members on confirming a date and location for the SAMA holiday party. It is fairly certain we will be returning to the Red Fish Grill, where we were last year!

We have two busy months coming up. Dick Kelley announced he is arranging a ride-and-drive event featuring the new Toyota Camry early in the month. Lunch and an afternoon of driving will be offered members on one of two days (October 10 or 11).

The South Florida International Auto Show is coming up later in the month. The annual SAMA preview luncheon sponsored by the South Florida Auto Dealers Association will be October 20. John Kiskinis says we are 99 percent confirmed for Joe’s Stone Crab. Details will be available in the usual email invitation. RSVP early after you receive it as spots will be limited.

Media day for the South Florida Auto Show will be October 28 and feature our annual awards luncheon. Teresa Bravo once again is in charge of the event, which will be sponsored either by GM or one of its divisions. This was a great hit last year with a big turnout. Ron Beasley and his committee will select winners for our annual auto show awards, which will be presented at the luncheon along with the announcement of the recipient of the annual Terry Jackson Award.

Tony Lesesne wanted to remind everyone that the annual Auto Focus awards will be held on October 29. For more information, please contact Tony. Past winners of the Auto Focus award are Marcello Serrato and Ron Beasley.

That completes October, but November is going to be an important month as well.

Vice President Bill Adam, who is back from his annual Canadian vacation but could not attend the September luncheon because of a previous business commitment, sent along a reminder that it is not too early to think about the annual Rides N’ Smiles event Homestead-Miami Speedway. The date for the event will be the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26.

Bill serves as chairman of the event and will select drivers for the day, but volunteers are needed to help with many details of the day-long affair.

Members are encouraged to contact Bill at wkadam@bellsouth.net if they are interested in volunteering at the wonderful event. Tasks will be assigned based on your replies.

Media coverage from members also will be welcome at Rides N’ Smiles.

That’s a very busy calendar for our growing and vibrant organization.

See you next month!


Marcello Serrato, Steve Parrett, Tony Serrato, and Mark Perry

Jeffrey Ross and Pepe Forte

Debra Koebel and Marissa Osborn

Odette Jimenez and Martha Gomez

Paul Borden

Steve Parrett

Tony Lesesne

Ron Beasley, Ray Mummery, and Rich Babl

Mark Perry, Director of Product Planning, Nissan

Jorge Koechlin

Odette Jimenez

Giselle Delgado and Jose Castello


Steve Parrett (Nissan) and Mark Perry (Nissan)

Angelo Serrato and Paul Borden

Steve Parrett, Tony Serrato and Mark Perry

Pepe Forte and Ron Beasley

Angelica Willard, Paul Borden, and Odette Jimenez

Daniel Romagnoli, Maria Ravani, and Daniel Alvarez

Pepe Forte, Marcello Serrato, and Pepe Delfino

Marissa Osborn, Debra Koebel, and Steve Parrett

Dick Kelley, Angelo Serrato, and Giselle Delgado

Angie Diaz and Stephanie Camargo

Javier Mota and Johnny Tapanes

Jeffrey Ross, Luis Gonzalez, Joe Willard, and Rick Green

Dick Kelley, Giselle Delgado, Teresa Bravo, and Jose Castello

EmeritoPujol, Marlen Bedoya, and Giulianna Levin

Javier Mota, Jorge Koechlin, and German Botero

Odette Jimenez and Jaime Gabaldoni

Jaime Gabaldoni and German Botero

Dick Kelley and Angelo Serrato

Joe Willard, Pepe Forte, and Angelica Willard