Sentra goes to extremes
"This generation of Sentra is a success when it comes to design. Contrary to the Versa, Sentra has aged well."
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - The new Sentra fits perfectly in the streets of San Francisco. This category of vehicle does offer a few advantages when it comes to urban driving. The size is ideal yet its members offer all the necessary space to passengers and their luggage. They are also very comfortable during long trips and at ease on the road, which explains their huge popularity.
The 2013 Sentra is obviously in that category. If the previous generation remained in the shadow of the Versa, this 7th generation will definitely allow for it to get a place in the spotlight. The 2013 version is bigger and better than the previous one. It is interesting though to notice that Nissan seems to have taken a path different from the other makers. If luxury, space and technologies are considered to be priorities, performance isn’t one. This different philosophy comes from a study that proved that future and young drivers couldn’t care less for performance, they are much more interested in what the multimedia system the car comes equipped with has to offer.
Nissan’s compact car has known a lot of success nonetheless. It has been on sale in America for over 30 years and has found an owner close to 320,000 times. I must also specify that it has been built in North America since its very beginnings. Over 343,440 compact cars have been sold in Canada for this year and they plan on selling up to 357,000 per year until 2016. There’s an excellent reason to put high hopes in Sentra.
This generation of Sentra is a success when it comes to design. Contrary to the Versa, Sentra has aged well. The beltline is much more stylised and a long ridge runs the length of the car, from the headlights to the taillights, most ascertaining the new silhouette of the compact which looks almost like a small format Altima.
The windshield is more tilted and the height has been lowered by 16 mm. The car is also longer by 58 mm. The front end is easily associated to the brand’s signature with the wide grille framed by the headlights to which the stylists have added a line of LEDs. It is fashionable, after all! The curves in the architecture allow for an aerodynamic coefficient of 29 which helps reduce fuel consumption. The trunk gains an additional 57 pounds of capacity.
On the inside, there’s nothing really new, but I have to admit the ensemble is easy on the eye. The steering wheel offers a good grip and all the gauges behind it are easy to consult. The dashboard is black all over except for the central console made of aluminum. Personally, I find this particular material to be cold and lifeless. Aluminum detailing has been added on the doors as well. Clearing for the passengers is excellent; we almost have the feeling of being in a bigger car.
Of course, the Sentra is offered in many different versions to choose from; the basic S, SV, SR and SL, the most fleshed out version.
If the whole is rather well presented, things go downhill when the time to take the wheel comes. The new Sentra is equipped with a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine, which is fine. But it pushes only 130 hp and the torque is 128 lb.-ft. The ensemble is completed with either a six-gear manual transmission or a CVT. Let’s just say that I understood early on that our Sentra wouldn’t reach the speed of sound.
If the performance already is deceiving from the get go, the Sentra also offers an Eco mode to reduce fuel consumption. But the engineers did work hard to reduce the friction of the internal components to maximize the potential of the small engine block. Even the alternator disengages during acceleration.
Those in charge of redesigning Sentra have focused on the builder’s priorities. The result is a spacious car, rather good looking, equipped with the latest technologies and far from being a gas-guzzler. If performance is not your top priority, you should definitely consider Sentra.
2013 Nissan Sentra
MSRP range: $14,848 - $18,998
Configuration: front engine/ front wheel drive
Available engines: 1.8L 4-cyl. (130 hp/ 128 lb.-ft.)
Available transmissions: 6-spd manual; continuously variable
Fuel economy ratings (L/100km): Comb. 6.6 (man.); 5.8 (CVT)
Warranties: 3 years/ 60 000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100 000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: Chevrolet Cruze; Dodge Dart; Ford Focus; Honda Civic; Hyundai Elantra; Kia Forte; Mazda3; Mitsubishi Lancer; Subaru Impreza; Toyota Corolla; Volkswagen Golf
Strengths: spacious; nice finish; fuel economy
Weaknesses: weak engine; anonymous silhouette; CVT