|Nissan has improved the Sentra’s styling 100 percent, especially in SR Turbo trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It wasn’t too long ago that Nissan’s Sentra SE-R was a highly respected sport compact, and while this once revered model is no more, the four-door-only Sentra can now be had in as-tested SR Turbo guise as well as top-line Nismo trim. I’ll leave the Nismo for a future road test review, because the SR Turbo is the car I most recently spent time with.
Before delving into this all-new 2017 trim, Nissan gave the entire Sentra line a thorough
|The SR Turbo gets a rear deck lid spoiler and a unique diffuser-style bumper cap. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
All of this remains the same except for the elimination of less alluring SR trim and adoption
|Complex headlights with LEDs, fog lamps, a sporty lower fascia, and 17-inch alloys round out SR Turbo details. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’m glad Nissan decided to equip this particular test car with the DIY mixer, as fewer and fewer vehicles are coming to market with manual shifters these days, especially in higher end trims, and even less arrive on the various manufacturer press fleets. The SR Turbo’s is a well sorted manual with short, smooth throws and
|Every angle of the new Sentra SR Turbo is eye-catching. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Yes, you heard me right. I’m talking about a Sentra here. Nissan has finally heard the distant wailing and gnashing of teeth from disenfranchised sport compact buyers and anted up with a car that really delivers the driving goods, its high-revving turbo-four ideal for the Sentra’s size and weight. Power is smooth and linear with a noticeable surge when full boost is extracted, but not so much to upset the front wheels. In fact, I never noticed anything resembling torque steer, the steering feeling free from
|New LED taillights look smart. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Nissan reworked the SR Turbo’s electric power steering for more direct response and feel, which is really noticeable, this aided by the standard semi-independent front strut and rear torsion beam suspension (its rear setup similar to the Corolla sedan’s, but not as sophisticated as the Civic sedan, Elantra Sport sedan, or Mazda3’s independent multi-link rear suspension design) upgraded with stiffer springs and dampers plus extra bracing for greater rigidity overall. This isn’t to say it feels harsh, but rather more like a traditional European sport sedan in that its ride is firm, yet with ample compliance for dealing with the types of day-to-day dips
|Nissan improved all Sentra interiors last year, while the new SR Turbo gets some nice sporty styling elements. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
To that end the SR Turbo gets larger 11.7-inch front ventilated sport brakes with upgraded pads (the base car gets 11s) and 11.5-inch solid rear discs (base gets drums), while its 17-inch machine-finished alloys with dark grey painted pockets are wrapped in 205/50VR17 all-season rubber. Full disclosure: my tester was still shod in a set of Michelin X-Ice winters when tested, which (despite these being excellent winter tires) meant it wasn’t quite as capable through the corners as it would’ve
|The new three-spoke leather-clad steering wheel was inspired by Nissan’s legendary 370Z. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Before getting my hopes up, it’s possible the powers that be in Nissan’s PR department ordered it with its optional CVT, which while most certainly a very capable transmission with manual mode (albeit no paddle shifters), won’t be anywhere near as enjoyable to pilot as its standard six-speed. It’ll be better at the pump, mind you, which is also true for the SR Turbo’s optional autobox that manages 8.9 L/100km city and 7.3 highway compared to 9.1 city and 8.9 highway for the manual version. To its credit that seemingly anemic base Sentra powerplant gets the compact segment’s best fuel economy
|The tall colour TFT multi-information display adds plenty of useful info. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’m not going to go into every trim level being that this review is for the SR Turbo, a very different type of car targeting a more performance-oriented buyer, but take note that S and SV trims offer a little more enjoyment from the base engine thanks to their standard six-speed manual gearbox, whereas the more efficient CVT is available with SR Turbo and Nismo trims as well, and comes standard on the luxury-focused SL.
Diving right into the SR Turbo, which starts $5,800 higher than the base $15,898 S at $21,598 plus freight and fees, the equipment
|This upgraded 5.8-inch infotainment touchscreen includes navigation. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Proximity-sensing keyless access lets you inside and pushbutton ignition gets the motor percolating, while interior upgrades include a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, a leather and metal shift knob, exclusive sport inlays, micro-filtered air conditioning, a 5.0-inch colour infotainment display with a backup camera,
|A six-speed manual… need I say more? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
My tester came with $300 Aspen White paint, while the only other available option was a $3,400 SR Premium package that added an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, upgraded sunvisors with extensions and dual illuminated vanity mirrors, an auto-dimming LED centre dome light, a powered moonroof, an upgraded NissanConnect infotainment interface with a slightly
|The leather upholstered sport seats are optional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Of course, this all gets added to myriad features pulled up from lesser trims, but take note if you’d like your Sentra with enough active safety gear to qualify for IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus status, which it does, such as emergency autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control, you’ll need to step into a less powerful CVT-only model.
|Rear seat roominess is standard across the Sentra line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Sentra delivers one of the largest trunks in the compact sedan class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I don’t know if a sportier Sentra will help drive more sales, the car’s bottom line ledger performance not as impressive as this SR Turbo’s street capability here in Canada, but hopefully this model, along with the Nismo, will cause some potential buyers to take notice and slowly pull them back to Nissan’s camp. Most competitors have the advantage of multiple body styles, hatchbacks particularly strong here, whereas the Sentra is only available as a four-door sedan. This works well
|Nissan doesn’t decorate its 188-hp SR Turbo engine, but you won’t care once the go-pedal hits the floor. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Until then we can enjoy the new Sentra SR Turbo and its top-line Nismo sibling for what they are, entry-level sport sedans designed to put smiles on their owners’ faces every time they get behind the wheel. Nissan is on the right track with this car. Onward and upwards.
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