Stretch in the rear seat of the Nissan Sentra and you will know why I call it the ‘limousine among compact sedans’. Roughly the same size as a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic, a bit longer in fact – the Nissan Sentra digs up space from nowhere, be it for the legroom or the copious trunk. Equipped with a surprising package of gadgetry, this is a compact sedan Nissan would gladly call its sentinel of aspirations.
UPSIDE: Class-leading rear legroom and boot space, Excellent touch screen response and Bluetooth, Good fuel efficiency, Pleasing ride quality
FLIPSIDE: Noisy at high revs, Average handling skills, Centre rear seat impractical, ISOFIX absent
Nissan Sentra Price
1.6 L engine: Basic – AED 59,400 / Mid – AED 64,600 / Top – AED 69,700
1.8 L engine: Basic – AED 66,100 / Mid – AED 74,900 / Top – AED 84,200
Stepping behind the wheel of the Nissan Sentra 1.8 SL and surveying the over-sized cabin, I re-adjusted my seats and my perception of what a compact sedan could offer. Nissan Sentra is Japan’s second largest carmaker’s answer to the Korean interpretation of value as “more when you least expect it”. It challenges the segment’s top dogs like the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic by borrowing cues from midsize cars.
The most remarkable thing about the Sentra’s handling is the ease of it – you might have issues with its sharpness but this is a compact sedan that turns around your little finger. You might want to pick on its unabashed understeer, especially when rushing into curves or roundabouts. But then, a more-sensible-than-me Sentra owner wouldn’t be ‘rushing into’ them as a part of his daily driving regimen. As if to complete a modern mandate, the Sentra has a ‘Sport’ button conveniently mounted on the gearshift lever; but the chance of your fingers straying its way is very little!
The new X-tronic CVT in the Nissan Sentra has managed to somewhat distance itself from the displeasure radical drivers have harboured for the type. It serves the 174 Nm of torque quite enjoyably, and performs well in lower rpm cycles. The only time the old contention raises noisily is when you push your luck up the tachometer – some things take time to changed I guess!
The Sentra adapts to the new Nissan design language very well – right from the large trapezoidal grille in front to the angular headlamps and the boomerang tail lamps. With its aerodynamic bend-over front, the thick spoiler glued to its rear too doesn’t look out of place on this family sedan. Along with these, a pronounced character line on its sides with a couple of twists in the storyline creates an interesting profile out of the new Nissan styling.
Cabin and Controls
Inside my top of the line SL variant, the Sentra defined its intentions though a cabin that is surprisingly loaded. Flaunting its leather seats, dual zone air-conditioning, navigation screen and a rear view camera, as well as a full set of steering wheel controls and optional maple wood-tone trims, the Sentra SL sure looks like it belongs to a notch higher. Yet, thanks to the touch screen, the dash and console of the Nissan Sentra are clutter-free and neatly organised.
The matchbox sized (well, in a manner of speaking, coz it actually measures 5.8”) optional navigation screen of the Nissan Sentra is a pointer to the size of convenience that you actually need. The remarkable touch screen response and rather simple Bluetooth operation further make it clear that these frills aren’t there merely to boast a premium; but rather as handy nuances of everyday driving.
For those who like symbolism, the pleasing four-speaker Bose audio system sums up what the Sentra defines. It sounds full-fledged; but with just the basic tweaking options, it’s no hi-fi on the go. Quite like the Sentra itself – a comfortable overall experience, with gaps that never make themselves felt!
The Sentra is generous to its backseat riders. Besides stretching the knee-room, it has obliged them with rear AC vents and exceptionally wide seats that provide good long drive support. The 510 L trunk is one of the best in its segment – not only is it wide but also has the height to let in large loads with ease.
However, while the executive styling of the Sentra’s rear with its foldable centre armrest (with cup holders!) looks quite premium, it is a hard bit of practicality for the fifth passenger. Another little thing is that my ISOFIX baby seat had no place in the Sentra’s next generation cabin, which by the way is silent enough for a sleeping baby.
The Essential Nissan Sentra
The Nissan Sentra smoothly steers into a segment of moderate expectations with an excess of premium comforts and uncomplicated every day handling. For those who have been promising the family an ‘upgrade’, the Nissan Sentra opens a wide gateway all too soon without squeezing the budget too much. Unless you are aiming right for the top, which will set you back by AED 84,000. But then it’s a fact of life – you got to pay for what you are getting.
Nissan Sentra: Price and value
The top of the line 1.6 distinguishes itself with a sporty package with 16” alloys, rear spoiler, rear parking sensors, leather steering, fog lamp and mirror-mounted turn indicators. However, most driver assist packages and leather is available only in the top of the line 1.8 Sentra, which costs pretty much the same as the top-end Toyota Corolla and a couple of thousands less than Honda Civic. Just around the 60 grand mark, the low-spec variants will still give you half of what is good about the Sentra – the incredible space and comfortable ride. But you’ll miss the other half, which is one of the simplest ergonomic ensembles in any cabin.
Drive Courtesy: Arabian Automobiles
Pictures: Supplied & Sudeep Koshy