|Aggressive Nismo aero upgrades and paint scheme turn the wallflower Sentra into a head-turner. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Compared to the SR Turbo, this Nismo is a boy racer’s dream, but I must admit it’s a bit too youth-oriented for my almost 55 year-old mindset. I appreciated the subtleness of the metallic grey-painted SR, and that said wouldn’t have minded a full white version, but the Aspen White pearl and wine-red colour scheme of this Nismo, plus all of the aero body cladding, pushed it a bit too over the top for me, especially when grafted onto a design that’s not inherently sporty.
Some features that seem somewhat out of place on a sport model include the broad
|The Sentra Nismo’s rear design includes plenty of aero bits as well. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Some details worth noting are the nice complex partial LED headlamps and sharp looking horizontal LED fog lights below, while the machine-finished multi-spoke 18-inch alloys on Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ 215/45ZR18 tires make for a sweet looking, sticky combination.
|Partial LED headlights look great and make for better visibility at night. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It feels strong off the line and sounds fabulous as it winds up to and slightly
|Cool LED fogs add to the design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Sentra Nismo’s cabin is very appealing, because the red and black colour combination and some of the detailing is particularly well done. Most noticeable are the microsuede Nismo seats with superb side bolstering and extreme comfort. They’re finished with solid microsuede centres and perforated bolsters, the latter and
|Gorgeous 18-inch alloys come standard with the Sentra Nismo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The interior is finished quite well, with a soft touch dash top that wraps right down to the halfway point of the instrument panel ahead of the front passenger. It doesn’t
|A sporty diffuser-style rear bumper cap finishes off the Sentra Nismo’s rear design nicely. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Switchgear is mostly good, although this compact segment has seriously improved as of late, with the Sentra appearing as if it’s fallen behind. Nissan did a fairly good job of upgrading the primary instruments that feature a large multi-information display at centre,
|Nissan has raised the Sentra’s game with plush microfibre seats, steering wheel, and door inserts. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
More detailed info can be found within the infotainment touchscreen, but this is looking somewhat dated too, with analogue switchgear down each side as well as a CD player and SD card reader up top. That’s a lot of kit, but the display is not as graphically stimulating as most in this class, nor as large, high in resolution or rich in contrast. The upgraded Bose audio system is excellent, mind you, and the navigation routing was very accurate.
Another surprise was that Nissan swapped out last year’s rudimentary manual HVAC
|Red on black is the colour theme, applied with more originality than some rival sport models. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I should mention that two-way heatable seat controls are on the lower console as well, while an overhead console includes a felt-lined sunglasses holder, although as usual it with Nissan incorporates such a large nosepiece that sunglasses flop around when inside. I do like the LED reading lights, however, which are certainly a step up over this segment’s usual incandescent lamps. That said my tester’s faults included a sloppy fitting vent on the right side dash top. I tried pushing it back in place, but it wouldn’t stay so it’s probably broken inside.
|The sporty tachometer is unique to the Nismo, while the large colour trip computer gets pulled up from other trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Sentra’s forte is interior spaciousness, especially in back where there was almost a clear foot of knee room behind the driver’s seat after setting it up for my five-foot-eight frame. Headroom was also generous for the class, with about three inches above my noggin, while I had about four inches beside my left shoulder and a couple of inches next to my outer hip. Strangely, Nissan doesn’t include a flip-down centre armrest in back,
|Standard navigation is very accurate, although Nissan needs to modernize the Sentra’s 5.8-inch infotainment system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The back seats are nevertheless are very comfortable, with excellent lower back support, and the rear door panels featured the same soft suede-like material on their padded inserts and armrests. Likewise, the backsides of the front seats were finished in that same rich microsuede, while red stitching was used for the door armrests and seats, although they didn’t get the same perforated inserts with red backing as those up front.
On the positive, the Sentra’s trunk is extremely large at 428 litres (15.1 cubic feet),
|Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard Nismo kit for 2018. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
As for features, Nissan makes sure every 2018 Sentra trim line is well equipped with standard keyless entry, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with illuminated controls, Fine Vision electroluminescent gauges, Bluetooth with hands-free text messaging and audio streaming, Siri Eyes Free, a USB input, a backup camera, tire pressure monitoring, and automatic emergency braking, while mid-range
|These seats provide superb support and incredible comfort. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Along with the upgraded drivetrain, the SR Turbo adds LED low-beam projector headlights with LED accents, LED fog lights, LED turn signals in the mirror housings, larger 11.7-inch front rotors and rear disc brakes, lower side sill extensions, a rear spoiler, a diffuser style sport rear bumper cap, a chromed exhaust finisher, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, a powered moonroof and more, while the Nismo includes all items already mentioned as well as a 0.8-inch larger 5.8-inch infotainment touchscreen, NissanConnect with voice recognition, navigation and mobile apps, SiriusXM Traffic
|The Sentra’s rear seating area is ultra-roomy, as is the car’s gargantuan trunk. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Yes, it’s odd to exclude features from top-line models, but Nissan obviously wants this to be a sport-focused sedan and keep its price within reason too, which at $26,198 plus freight and fees is only $3,900 more than the SR Turbo. This said the SR Turbo is already a great performing compact sedan that should also be considered by those looking for a little more zest in their daily drive, which like the Nismo won’t eat a hole in their fuel budget thanks to a 9.5 L/100km city, 7.6 highway and 8.7 combined rating with the manual, or 9.4, 7.8 and 8.7 respectively with the CVT.
Either way, sport compact fans have two value-packed options to keep them up at night.
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