For this 7th generation Sentra, Nissan took it to the gym and it lost some weight, it had a bit of botox here, and some liposuction there. The end result is a lighter, more fuel efficient, and arguably more handsome looking vehicle.
Performance – The previous generation of the Sentra came with a modest 140hp 2.0L engine. This new model comes with…. a smaller 1.8L engine that develops 130hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. Usually when auto manufacturers update a vehicle, they usually give it a more powerful engine so why has Nissan done the opposite? Two words, fuel efficiency. This new smaller engine coupled with Nissan’s CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) can achieve a fuel rating of 7.5L/100km in a city and 5.5L/100km on a highway. But what’s really interesting (that I found while researching and comparing this car with others) is that the smaller and less powerful Nissan Micra can’t achieve the same fuel efficiency* (According to Nissan’s official estimated fuel ratings). In terms of fuel savings, you’ll be saving a lot of money at the pumps but you won’t be saving a lot of time getting to your destination because 0-100km/h in this Sentra takes 10.1 seconds. Compared with other vehicles in this class, the acceleration time is average however unlike other compact cars it doesn’t actually feel that slow. The new 1.8L engine has torque at low rpms to get the car moving and the new chassis is 150 lbs lighter than the previous generation.
The reduction in weight can also be felt when navigating through twisty mountain roads. It is by no means a Lotus but it can hold its own amongst other compact cars from the competition. The front end turns in quickly into a corner and because of its light weight, understeer is minimal. There could be a bit more feel in the steering wheel as to what the front tires are doing but this is primarily a city car where the only extremes that it will see are highway on and off ramps.
Comfort – By far the biggest improvement over the last generation Sentra has been NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness). The cabin of this $15,000 CAD car feels robust and refined. Bumps get absorbed by the suspension and the passengers would never know the car went over one. Noise is minimal even at highway cruising speeds however there is some intrusion of engine noise when your foot is buried into the throttle pedal. There is also a large amount of head and leg room in both the front and back, although taller passengers may be in a bit of a pinch in the back, and there is a very large amount of room in the trunk. The dash materials that you can touch are plastics, like most other vehicles in this category, but they feel like high quality plastics and cloth.
The quality feel continues when you take a look at the features that are available with this model. This SR model is one trim level below the top SL model and the only differences between the two trims is that this SR is not available with climate control and leather seats. Navigation, satellite radio, heated seats, sunroof, auto-dimming mirror, reverse camera, and a Bose audio system are a few of the premium features that are equipped in this model. Unfortunately there is a price for these items and that price goes up to just under $25,000 CAD for this SR trim from the $15,000 CAD starting price of the base S Sentra.
Odds and Ends – In terms of its exterior styling, the new Sentra is blurring the lines between itself and the Altima. It looks like a scaled down version of its bigger brother but by no means is this an ugly design. The design looks matured but it is very much on the conservative side. If it didn’t have any Nissan badges on it, no one would know what it was because there is no distinguishing feature that sets it apart from everything else. The Nissan designers should have been given more free range when designing the exterior of this current generation Sentra.
Thank you to West Coast Nissan for providing the vehicle and visit their website to view this and other vehicles that are available for purchase or lease. www.WestCoastNissan.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.