Believe it or not, there was a time not so long ago when the Nissan Sentra was one of the most fun-to-drive small cars on the market, if not the most.
Generations of mediocrity have ensued, relegating the Sentra to the bottom of the compact car pack. A perfect rental, as it were. Even the latest redesign, which at least gave the Sentra some decent looks, interior room and ride quality, did nothing to bring back its former sporting glory.
Now, it seems Nissan is getting serious about making the Sentra fun again, as it just announced the 2017 Sentra SR Turbo. Based on the current SR model, the Turbo version packs a 1.6-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, 64 and 52 more, respectively, than the non-turbo Sentra.
If those engine specs sound familiar, it’s because the Juke also has a 1.6-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes the same exact power numbers. Nissan may not have said this in their press release, but it’s quite obvious that the Sentra SR Turbo’s engine came from the quirky crossover.
Nissan deserves a medal or something, because they are making the SR Turbo available with – gasp! – a six-speed manual transmission. It’s also available with an Xtronic CVT, but who cares? It’s a new car with a proper manual.
To handle the extra power, Nissan beefed up the Sentra’s suspension, stiffening the front end and installing updated front and rear dampers. Steering has been updated with a larger motor and revised programming to help with steering feel and effort, and the front brakes have been increased.
Nissan hasn’t announced pricing for the SR Turbo, nor have they announced an availability date.
The SR Turbo’s competitors are cars like the Ford Focus ST (not the RS) and the Volkswagen GTI, which both have more power. Not too many competitors still make sport compacts, so if the SR Turbo can undercut the Focus and GTI in price, it could lure away some buyers.
Still, Nissan should be congratulated for at least trying to make their Sentra sporty when there really is no reason to do so. The car is selling well as it is, and the turbo version will most likely not be the model’s volume seller. Hopefully we get one here at TFLcar as soon as we can.
One more thing – the Juke also comes in a NISMO version that ups the power to 215 horsies. Hopefully the SR Turbo does well enough that Nissan builds a Sentra SR NISMO version in the near future.
Check out this video of the new 2017 Nissan Sentra Turbo: