2017 Nissan Sentra
Review of: 2017 Nissan Sentra 4dr Sdn Man SR Turbo
2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo: Bigger power for a big small car
By G. R. Whale
Dec. 16, 2016
Earlier Sentras offered SE-R trims that included more powerful engines and now the 2017 SR variant finally gets a power bump with brakes and bits to match. The rest of it, whether you like it or not, is much the same as the mid-level SV trim.
Pros & Cons
- + Acceleration
- + Comfortable, spacious interior
- + Value for money
- - Ride comfort
- - Conservative interior design
- - Advanced safety features
It’s amusing what a new grille, lights, side sills, spoiler and decent-size wheels will do for a car’s appearance, this the first Sentra I’ve found better than vanilla since the Spec V two generations ago. The nose hints at baby Maxima and has LED low-beam headlights, the trunk lip spoiler keeps the center brake light out of the rear window, a larger single tailpipe murmurs improvement rather than shouting, and the serrated wheel spokes are genuinely different. I’m good with subtle restraint.
By compact standards Sentra is a roomy car, with head and legroom just 40-50 mm shy of the front, so my lanky self fits behind my driving position with no problems. An equally generous trunk of 428 litres and 60/40 folding rear seat ensure carting stuff is rarely an issue.
It’s simple inside, with soft-touch panels from elbows up, blue-tint trim and stitching, a rear-seat armrest but no center headrest and fixed outers. Seats are set fairly high and shared with less-grippy Sentras so lateral retention is nominal.
Layout is straightforward from switch placement to climate and audio controls, and backlit instrumentation echoes everything from a Maxima to a Titan—I probably shouldn’t complain as Nissan still lets me see when the engine’s warmed up. Additional telescope in steering wheel travel would be appreciated for comfort; visibility’s already very good.
At base price there are basics like a power point, rear camera and USB port. The $3,400 premium pack adds blind-spot warning (did I mention good visibility?), navigation, XM, and a batch of things like power driver seat and moonroof, but you can not get the collision mitigation braking of the SL. You do get better brakes.
Borrowed from Juke, the 1.6-litre turbo dishes out 177 lb-ft of torque from 1,600 revs to 188 horses at 6,000, though it delivers best from midrange upward and keeps pulling until you ignominiously hit the rev limiter just before the tach needle sees red.
Short gearing and lively throttle calibration require a light touch around town (I tried sport mode for two traffic lights…done) and spry launches, it settles through midrange, then feels like full steam from 3,000—and any torque steer is well controlled The first five gears are fairly close while sixth is a big step for quieter cruising, showing about 2,750 at 120 kph. All input efforts are low, including the shifter that has narrow lateral gates and a reverse lockout.
SR Turbo also gets the Juke’s larger front brakes and SL’s rear discs, a nice firm pedal and solid performance even when all 188 hp were repeatedly thrown at them. The front tires complained more because the suspension design is the same, only stiffer, and it is biased to understeer unless you yank the handbrake mid-corner. The CVT includes understeer control but that’s not nearly enough reason to choose the CVT over the six-speed manual.
The ride is firm, with enough elasticity to avoid calling it stiff, and the structure feels more rigid than before. You’ll feel any road irregularities but on smooth highways it rolls along with minimal fuss.
Rated at 9.1/7.3 L/100 km (city/highway) I did high 8s around town, high 5s on the highway and averaged 7.0, better than I did with a 1.8-litre Sentra and good for 800-km tank road trips.
Look at this $21,598 SR two ways. A Civic EX-T (CVT only) with Honda Sensing is thousands more, it splits the $20K 150-hp Jetta Trendline and $35K 210-hp GLI, and the biggest challenge comes from the 201-hp Elantra Sport with leather, CarPlay/Android Auto, moonroof and 18s for $25,000.
Or, add 50 per cent more power, bigger brakes, 17-inch wheels, bodywork upgrades, LED headlights, SL heated signal mirrors, unique trim and a leather-wrapped wheel to an SV for the paltry sum of $1,540.
I wouldn’t think twice. Nor once if I lived at altitude.
The Sentra is roomy, easy on gas and your wallet, and finally has some punch to go with that “SR” moniker. If you don’t need fancy or semi-autonomous, it’s a more-amusing-than-average economy sedan.