Editor’s note: Since my former publication, Autonet has been shuttered, and its archive gone dark and its former links unlinked, I’ma repost some of my favorite stuff here, lest history (and, yes, the world) be deprived of some valuable Wade Ozeroffin’.
Tell you what though, you can really appreciate the contribution of my former Powerful & Cruel Editors, as they would have caught most of the grammatical errors and removed all instances of foul language, blasphemy or weird humor that didn’t work from the raw copy.
I present you now: the first drive of the 2016 Nissan Sentra
Well, from the look of the neighborhood around me, everyone here makes a lot more money than I do.
Bolting out of Newport Beach in the mid-model refreshed Sentra, amid a slew of luxury sleds (from, literally, everywhere – I saw some Teslas, one i8, all the 911 family and innumerable Bentleys), the bread-and-butter mainstay of Nissan’s grip on the compact segment held its own on the roads, literally as well as figuratively.
It has been a renaissance for the company over the past couple of years, with the introduction of the in-house design language they’ve branded “Energetic Flow” showing up in the flagship Maxima and the latest gen Murano; with upgraded interiors and electronics beneath distinctive exterior styling; and the Sentra carries that forward.
The changes are many and profound, though many of my favorite ones are less visible – the CVT transmission (Xtronic, in Nissan parlance) is now into its third generation and boasts a better-still cooperation with the 1.8 litre engine in terms of smoothness of shifts and projected fuel economy – and tweaks to the suspension and steering feel have made the 2016 version a must-drive tester for anyone shopping compacts.
(Having said that, though, let’s not cheerlead for the continuously-variable autobox too much here – I did find the CVT response a little sluggish at low speeds, most noticeably on hills; and while I didn’t get to try the Sentra’s available six-speed manual transmission, I’ll wager I would prefer it. You can choose the stickshift with S and SV trims).
The company has done its job keeping up with the ever-increasing level of consumer expectation in the compact segment (hey, remember when a anyone expected from and entry level car was a steering wheel and maybe a radio?) and equipped the Sentra with a flight of features even at the base trim.
Speaking of which, Sentras will come in three basic trims when they arrive at Canadian dealers in early spring; SL, SR and SV all of which will include leather seating surfaces, Bose audio and very good driver’s seat (six-way adjustable, with lumbar support, I might add), a radar-based blind spot information system and the company’s NissanConnect telematics system, for external device interface and connections (one of the best functions of NissanConnect is its emergency preparedness function with an automatic collision notification feature stolen vehicle locator and automatic roadside assistance notification.
Externally, you’ll still recognize the vehicle from the outside, of course, there have been tweaks to the rear end but where Nissan is especially proud is the prow – the hood, grille and fenders are new, with an emphasis on aerodynamics via the V-Motion arrangement we’ve seen on the latest Maxima and Murano (and hey, tell me if you don’t see it in the upcoming Titan pickup).
The cabin’s environment has been enhanced with additional sound-dampening materials and a laminated glass in the windows that brings new levels of quiet to the cockpit; especially when you roll up the windows to block out the sound of the snooty luxury cars rolling up and down the drives and highways in Orange County.
The big takeaway from this, though, is that as carbuyers on a budget are offered an ever-expanding array of up-to-date technology (and I won’t even get into the driver assistance technologies here, but by all means get yerself a test drive in one when the latest Sentra hits dealers in the spring) this car is a major contender; and is poised for conquest in a hotly competitive market.
Pricing was recently announced for the models, and runs the range of econocar affordability; with an entry level S model (with that 6-speed manual trans) starting at $15,898 and most of the lineup staying under the promised 20K; although you can work it up to $25, 998 for the full-load SL with Xtronic.
Truth is, this car isn’t actually out of place in this neighborhood at all, and could be as at home in tony Newport Beach as it could in the brutal slums of Edmonton (er, for example, heh heh, nothing against my fine town) really should be experienced.