Nissan finally builds Sentra Nismo, but skips on engine upgrades

Earlier in 2016, when the facelifted Sentra sedan arrived in dealerships, we began to think that the new design would look awesome with a Nismo body kit. The Japanese firm had already built a concept car in 2013, and all it had to do was to update the styling to the 2016 model year. However, we weren’t sure that Nissan will finally offer a Nismo version of the Sentra or go with a milder SE-R model, which was shelved in 2012. A little more than half a year has passed since we speculated about the Sentra Nismo and rendered a production model based on the most recent update, and Nissan has unveiled the actual car at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Freaking finally!

That’s my first though. My second one was to compare it against our rendering. Well, we pretty much nailed it! Granted, there’s no mesh in the lower grille, the LED foglamps sit lower in the bumper, and the wheels have less spokes, but everything else is identical, including the black-painted mirror caps with red stripes and the red highlights in the apron and side skirts. Upgrades are pretty obvious around back, where the Sentra gained a diffuser-like element with red accents, a trunklid spoiler, and the familiar "Nismo" badge. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The interior also boasts a few cool features that bear the Nismo mark, starting with the Alcantara inserts and red 12-o’clock stripe on the steering wheel, the carbon center console with red highlights, and the Nismo rev counter.

Moving down to the greasy bits, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the Sentra Nismo is more powerful than the standard model. The not so good news is that it’s just a Sentra SR Turbo under the hood. Not only it uses the same turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, but the unit is rated at an identical 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Granted, that’s an impressive 58 horses and 49 pound-feet over the non-turbo Sentra, but I really expected the Nismo model to have more than 200 horsepower on tap. Okay, maybe not the 265-horsepower rating we predicted earlier this year, but at least a 20-percent increase over the SR Turbo.

Tough luck I guess?

There’s no word on pricing yet, but look for the Sentra Nismo to fetch more than the SR Turbo, which retails from $21,990.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

Nissan Sentra Nismo Unveiled at 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show High Resolution Exterior
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Granted, I’m a bit disappointed that the Nismo badge didn’t bring upgrades in the drivetrain department, but on the other hand I’m happy to see the red-accented body kit on the Sentra. I really dig this compact sedan and the beefed-up bumpers and side skirts push it away from the econobox image the Sentra usually comes with. On the flipside, squeezing an extra 30 to 50 horsepower from that engine with aftermarket parts shouldn’t be too difficult, given that you don’t mind meddling with a brand-new car and the warranty. All I can do is hope that the car is not a lot more expensive than the SR Turbo, which would leave some budget for an engine tweak.

Press Release

Nissan today kicked off its slate of new product debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show with a preview of the new 2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO in downtown Los Angeles. The off-site event displayed the latest member of the motorsports-inspired NISMO lineup against a backdrop of classic Nissan and Datsun performance vehicles and where it is most at home – on the street. Tomorrow Nissan moves into the Los Angeles Convention Center for an action-packed reveal of the new Nissan Rogue: Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition model.

"For 2017, we’re bringing new excitement to Sentra with the Sentra NISMO, which brings driving enthusiasts aftermarket tuner-style performance straight from the factory," said Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. "With an estimated starting price of under $25,000 when it arrives in January, Sentra NISMO is going to be very popular here in Southern California and around the U.S."

At the heart of the new Sentra NISMO is a 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG™) turbocharged engine rated at 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. The engine is matched with choice of a 6-speed manual transmission, with gear ratios selected to take maximum advantage of the engine’s powerband and torque curve, or an advanced, tuned Xtronic transmission.

"It’s important to offer a 6-speed manual transmission with the new Sentra NISMO, both to reinforce its pure performance credentials and to up the direct engagement factor between driver and the vehicle," added Bunce.

In addition to the new Sentra NISMO, the 2017 Sentra is offered in five other grade levels: Sentra S, SV, SR, SR Turbo and SL. For full information on Sentra NISMO and the entire Sentra lineup, please visit NissanNews.com.

The new Sentra NISMO, 2017 Versa Note, 2017 JUKE Black Pearl Edition and Nissan Rogue: Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition – along with the complete Nissan model lineup – will be on display at the show in the Nissan exhibit, which is located in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show runs from Friday, November 18 through Sunday, November 27.

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