Emma Jayne Williams

Nissan adds NISMO treatment to Sentra for 2017, a first for this compact sedan

The new, first-ever Sentra NISMO is also the first mainstream U.S. Nissan model to offer motorsports-inspired NISMO factory-tuned performance.
The new, first-ever Sentra NISMO is also the first mainstream U.S. Nissan model to offer motorsports-inspired NISMO factory-tuned performance. Nissan

For 2017, Nissan introduces a new addition to its compact performance sedan line, the Sentra NISMO, the first mainstream U.S. Nissan model to offer motorsports-inspired NISMO factory-tuned performance.

Sentra is also offered in five other trims: S, SV, SR, SR Turbo, and SL. All trims are front-wheel drive and are available with an Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission with manual mode and Eco and Sport modes.

The S, SR Turbo, and NISMO are available with a six-speed manual transmission. Pricing starts at $16,990 for the base S trim, and runs as high as $24,990 for the NISMO version.

Transforming the Sentra from everyday sedan to performance machine isn’t just cosmetic, although an aggressive exterior treatment and performance-oriented interior are part of the effort. Sentra NISMO also brings factory-tuned performance with a stiffened body structure and unique suspension.

The new Sentra NISMO has a 188-horsepower 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a perfect fit for the aerodynamically aggressive NISMO bodywork.

Precisely balanced tuning of all components – body, interior, chassis, suspension, steering, and powertrain – produced a practical, affordable vehicle worthy of the NISMO badge. The direct-injection system improves combustion, and enhances power, torque, economy, and emissions, while the turbocharger helps boost power.

The Sentra NISMO is EPA rated for 25 mpg city/31 highway/27 combined.

NISMO styling is immediately evident with the signature aerodynamic “layered double wing” design in the front, side, and rear lower body panels, featuring an eye-catching thin red strip along the lower panels.

The front fascia is uniquely NISMO, with a dominant black V-Motion grille featuring a large chrome and piano-black outline and NISMO badge (with a red “O”), flanked by unique horizontal lines of six large LED daytime running lights seated in a deep faux vent, and LED low-beam projector headlights with LED accents and a silver underline echoing the chrome grille trim.

NISMO exterior details include black mirrors with red stripe, dark chrome door handles and trunk finisher, sculpted rear spoiler, exhaust finisher, and badging. NISMO alloy wheels have five gray-painted “U” spokes with machined tips and outer ring. Ride height is reduced by 0.4-inch, helping give Sentra NISMO an aggressive stance.

A factory-tuned performance car, NISMO offers modifications to structural integrity, such as a reinforced floor and rear parcel shelf to stiffen the body structure, which provide an enhanced platform for the NISMO- tuned suspension and the new engine.

The compact exterior belies the interior roominess, with 42.5 inches of legroom in the front and 37.4 inches in the rear. Even the middle seat has ample legroom, thanks to a low driveshaft tunnel. Headroom is 39.4 inches in the front and 36.7 inches in the rear. A smooth, uninterrupted headliner added to the roomy feel.

My exciting Sentra NISMO was Gun Metallic, one of four exterior colors, including Brilliant Silver, Super Black, and Aspen White ($295 extra). The interior is available only in Charcoal synthetic suede with red accents, red stitching, and dark headliner.

Perforated panels with red show-through trimmed the side bolsters, headrests, and neck area (from front to back) of the NISMO front seats, with embroidered white and red NISMO logo. Red stitching accented the armrests, front seat bolsters, rear seats, and the Alcantara and leather-wrapped steering wheel with a red centering ring at the 12 o’clock position.

The red motorsports-inspired accents continued throughout, from the pushbutton start with a red ring, the NISMO meter cluster with red tachometer, the NISMO logo on the instrument panel, to red panels on the sides of the center console, which featured carbon fiber-look trim up to the center stack audio and navigation controls. Gloss Black surrounded the center stack controls. Carbon fiber-look trimmed the door panels.

NISMO’s sporty style did not compromise everyday drivability. Handling response, grip, steering feel, body control, and ride/handling balance were specifically designed to meet NISMO standards.

Lightweight monotube shock design means faster reaction to changing road or steering conditions, while NISMO tuning of springs and struts improves roll and pitch in high-demand cornering – translating to cornering confidence during daily driving.

Newly developed Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires mounted on 18-inch wheels improve grip levels along with cornering power. This is the first time 18-inch wheels have been offered on a Sentra.

Standard audio technology included an AM/FM/CD/USB system with a five-inch color display (shared with rearview camera), six speakers, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System and streaming audio, Siri Eyes Free Voice Recognition and smartphone integration for iPhone and Android phones, including Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant.

Text Assistant has illuminated steering-wheel-mounted controls and voice-recognition so you can listen to messages and reply or send a message using pre-loaded responses, either factory installed or custom.

For $1,220, an optional NISMO Premium Package offered a Bose Premium audio system with eight speakers, NissanConnect with Navigation and Mobile apps, a 5.8-inch color touch screen, Nissan Voice Recognition for audio and navigation, and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link.

Safety is built into the Sentra NISMO in the form of pipe-style steel side door-guard beams, hood-buckling creases, Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple zones, an energy-absorbing steering column, front seat-mounted side-impact and roof-mounted curtain air bags with rollover sensors, dual-stage front air bags with seatbelt and occupant classification sensors, child safety rear door locks, and LATCH for child seats.

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System has Nissan’s Easy-Fill Tire Alert to help keep pressure at a safe, efficient level – when filling a tire, an audible signal lets the operator know when the appropriate pressure is reached.

My Sentra NISMO was a fun-to-drive sporty vehicle available at an affordable price, with everyday practicality. The 60/40 folding rear seatbacks along with the 15-cubic-foot trunk allowed me to haul some new patio furniture.

Fuel economy was excellent at 30.1 mpg combined, even better than EPA estimates.

Adding $865 destination charges to the base price of $24,990 brought the delivered price of my eye-catching Sentra NISMO to $25,855.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.