By Asian Journal Auto Editor
The all-new eighth-generation Nissan Sentra is a new take on the venerable compact sedan that has been a top seller for the company. 2020 sees a much sportier exterior and revamped cabin design. The Sentra has been in the market since 1982 and has sold more than six million units in Canada and the U.S. The new Sentra is one of the better styled compact sedans, with a look that’s both sporty and serious. The signature V-motion grille is nicely integrated, and the smooth unobtrusive styling makes it look classy and playful. I like the Nissan’s corporate “floating” roofline. The cabin gets a makeover with premium quality material and a thoughtful upscale look and feel. Incredible to say, but the high quality interior with its: raised stitching, rotary vents, high and neat metal trim reminds me of an entry level Mercedes – Benz!
Power for the Sentra comes courtesy of a new engine too, a 149 horsepower, 2.0-litre four cylinder unit that ups horsepower 20% higher with a 16 per cent rise in torque (146 lbs.-ft) over the old 1.8-litre mill. The gearbox is a continuously variable transmission (CVT), although the base S trim is also available with a six-speed manual transmission for sport driving enthusiast like myself!
In terms of engineering, the new Sentra is two inches wider and 2.2 inches lower than the 2019 version, while the chassis is all new with a multi-link independent rear suspension, dual-pinion rack electric power steering, active ride control, and vehicle dynamics control. The Sentra range starts at S ($18,798), S plus ($20,598) SV ($21,998), SR ($23,998), and SR Premium ($25,998) as tested. Standard features on the S Include: emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert and a 7 – inch color touchscreen audio display. Moving up the mole range adds such thing as an 8-inch touch screen. Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, 360-degree cameras and navigation. We tested the top SR premium model that came with such niceties as: thin lenses led headlights, 6- way power driver’s seat, Leatherette upholstery, 8- speaker Bose audio system, rear spoiler, and fancy 18 inch diamond cut aluminum wheels, Sport rear spoiler, black side mirrors, lower body side sill extensions, dark chrome V-motion grille and chrome exhaust tips complete the look, drawing admiring glances from other drivers.
The interior cabin on the Sentra is also impressive: there is high end feel with premium textiles, plastics and upholstery. The raised stitching on the black seats and dash is wonderful and adds a refined sense of style. A racing -style D-shaped steering wheel, simple, clear gauges and easy to use controls add to the ambience. Nissan’s “Zero Gravity” reside up front- ergonomically designed to alleviate pressure points, they’re meant for all-day driving comfort. The rear cabin is also roomy, but seats two adults in comfort rather than three. Trunk space is on the money at a huge 404.9 litres. Storage space excellent throughout
On the road the wider stance provides a lower centre of gravity and more stable composure. It’s certainly an improvement over the outgoing model. The handling is quite good, with nice reflexes. The suspension is smooth, and irons out rough surfaces well. Steering is nicely balanced and overall the Sentra is good fun to drive. With 149 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque available, acceleration is adequate enough for everyday driving. If you are not a fan of the CVT there is the option of a six speed manual transmission – which I highly recommend as a former racing car driver. Fuel economy is good, rated at (litres/100 km): 8.0, city; 6.0, highway – probably better figures for the six – speed manual transmission equipped car. Gripes are few: No Apple Carplay or Android Auto option on the entry level models – and no drive mode setting option, that’s about it.
Even fully loaded, the top Sentra SR Premium is just a shade under $26,000 and comes with an interior and features that won’t look out of place on premium $50,000 Euro cars. I like the cool exterior styling, the nice interior, the decent –equipment levels and the performance. It not bad on fuel either. Fit and finish is excellent, the door panels, plastics and textiles all feel like premium German kit. The SR level Sentra trims will make you question -why buy a sedan costing nearly twice as much with the same equipment levels? Nissan deserve a huge pat on the back or in these Covid 19 times a heart elbow bump back for making one of the best, if not the best compact sedans available in Canada. A future award winner. Highly recommended.
2020 Nissan Sentra: Priced from $18,798 (base); $25,998 (As tested.)
More info at www.nissan.ca