Each year, Nissan’s popular Sentra continues to be improved and for 2015, the company is adding a fair number of interior comfort and convenience refinements to most models. Nissan’s aim with the Sentra is “class above” style and an enhanced driving experience. This is the seventh-generation Sentra and is quite a contrast when compared to the earlier ones. It’s a more refined car altogether and certainly drives like something a class above.
For 2015, Nissan added a USB connection port and Bluetooth hands-free phone hookup, essential items for most drivers these days. Also new are steering wheel audio controls and cruise control - both on the base S model. Steering wheel controls make a significant contribution towards lessening driver distraction - a hot topic nowadays.
Move up a notch to the SV and you get alloy wheels, rear view camera, push button start and a long list of other upgrades. The sports-influenced SR now has heated front seats and heated rearview mirrors among other new goodies. On the safety front, the rear brakes are now discs and to add to this benefit, SR buyers get an upgraded sound system and a sliding glass moonroof - plus several other worthwhile features.
The line-topping Sentra SL remains pretty well the way it was for 2014 with leather seats and a navigation system along with a long list of other upscale features. In all, there are four Sentra versions and equipment upgrades are available for all depending on the buyer’s needs.
Powerplant for the Sentra is a 130-horsepower 1.8-litre fuel-efficient 4-cylinder mated to a next-generation Nissan Xtronic continuously variable transmission. I found this engine/transmission combo more than adequate for a car of this size and it was a lot smoother and quieter than this kind of motor used to be. The engine has dual camshafts and variable valve timing, so it’s a fairly high-tech little unit. Responsiveness is very good and the car is a lot of fun to drive. Buyers can choose a 6-speed manual transmission for the Sentra S variant.
The interior is nicely done and many versions are quite luxurious and comfortable. Inside trim all fits perfectly and the entire has a feeling of being well put together. Similarly, the exterior paint is excellent.
The Sentra is a straightforward, gimmick-free little car that’s quieter and more peppy than you’d expect in this segment. It handles very well thanks to a well-engineered suspension that provides a comfortable ride without sacrificing nimble cornering capability. The car is also very good value and very competitive in its price bracket. At one time, the Sentra was Nissan’s entry level product, but that role now falls to the Versa and thus the Sentra has been nudged upscale quite convincingly.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four-door sedan, 5-seater
ENGINE: 1.8-litre 4-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: CVT or 6-speed manual on Sentra S
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx 8.5-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 7.2-litres/100 km combined city/highway (Xtronic CVT)
PRICE: Entry level around $15,600 MSRP