2013 Nissan Sentra 1.8 SL – Test Drive

The Nissan Sentra is a new addition to the Nissan line up. At first I didn’t exactly understand where it fell in the range but after actually visiting the showroom and checking out the car it made sense. The Nissan sunny is actually a grade lower than the Korean Manufacturer’s Kia Cerato & Hyundai Elentra. The Nissan Altima (the next one on the line) is of a higher grade level, and Nissan had no direct competitor. This was an issue, until now.

It is quite a good looking car at first glance which is what caught my eye in the first place, it has a lot of traits from its big brothers, the Nissan Altima and Nissan Maxima. Especially the front end being swooped down, with a big chrome grill, and accented LED daylight running lights. At first glance, this didn’t seem as mid-range as it is, which is a good thing.
The car tested was their 1.8 Litre SL with Premium package, which is the top of the range Nissan Sentra offered.

So what models does the Nissan Sentra come in? It starts off with a 1.6 litre V4 engine pushing out 113HP and 153NM of torque. The 1.6 litre engine comes in 3 models, the 1.6 S with LED tail lights, keyless entry, power windows, dual airbags, and a basic audio system, the 1.6 SV model comes with front LED daylight running lights, push button start, steering wheel audio controls, wood trim and a arm rest, and the 1.6 SV sports package comes with silver trim bits, fog lamps, leather steering, a spoiler, and rear parking sensors.
The 1.8 litre V4 engine pushes 130HP with 174NM of torque and comes in 4 trim models, the S with everything on the 1.6 SV, the 1.8 SV comes with steering controls for audio and trip computer, bluetooth connectivity, wood trim and rear seat arm rest, the 1.8 SL ┬ácomes with electric folding mirrors, keyless entry and push button start, a 4.3 inch color display, 6 speakers, 16″ alloy wheels and iPod/USB connectivity.
The model tested was the 1.8 SL with Premium package. It has all the options in the 1.8 SL and adds leather seats, a sunroof, cruise control, dual climate control, Navigation and side & curtain airbags.
The car is quite good looking and the rear does remind us of the new Altima and shape of the Maxima at angles. This surely isn’t a low end looking car. I think it looks really good.
Getting inside the car was a surprise, surely I knew the specifications of the car I was getting in, but there was this instant sense of the next model range. I was in the 1.8 SL with Premium package but was still surprised to find super clear gauges, a trip computer that is actually smart (Gives real time fuel consumption while driving to trigger our inner eco-mode), leather in most places and modern looking switches and gears.

Jumping into the car in the first go, the seating was way off, it felt awkward and wrong, but after playing the the adjustments (manual adjustments) I managed to lower the seat and adjust it perfectly, it was actually quite comfortable. The steering wheel is typical Nissan, does have that plasticy feeling to the materials and even the leather, but that wasn’t its biggest concern; the biggest issue was it was the softest steering wheel I had ever used. I could probably turn it with my tongue! The steering wheel was too soft.
Being in such a car I never expect the leather to be super soft neither plentiful, so I did not have any disappointments when the had had mediocre leather and hard plastics. On the plus side, the car has had some design influence, and the swooped multi-section areas of the dashboard blends in quite well, I liked it.

The air conditioning was dual zone, which helps since I like it a little cold often, and the whole center console was quite easy to reach and use, buttons were not too plasticy and clicky.

Driving the car though gave a better idea of how it feels to own this car. First of all, the features and toys. Getting into the car by pressing the button on the door handle means never having to take it out of your pocket and starting it with a button reminds you of premium, higher end cars. The steering wheel has decent buttons to control the bluetooth telephony, cruise control and the audio. The engine has 130 HP so I never expected performance, its good I didnt expect any because it nearly did 100KMPH in under 10 seconds. The problem is not that this isn’t a fast car, because it wasnt supposed to be, the problem I had was the CVT gearbox, I absolutely cant stand CVT engines, I like to accelerate and the fact that the car can drive at a constant high rev just kills the buzz of driving for me, surely it is fuel efficient, but annoying.

Speaking of fuel efficiency, this car is stated at 5.8l/100KMs but according to what the readout (and the test driver with me) stated, it should do around 8l/100 meaning a full tank of fuel could do, in theory, 650KMs. I believe if it can do 600, this is quite an economical car. It even has good trunk space.

All in all, this is a very good car in this range. It is small yet roomy, can be set up with really good options but that does hike the price up. It is nimble, has basic parking assists, small enough for town use, and has a decent premium feel to it. The only thing worth considering, per individual, is the price. It certainly starts low around 60’000 Dhs, but kitted up with the bigger engine and all the electronic gizmos it can touch 80’000 Dhs, but the other way to look at it is, other competitors cost really similar.
The 2013 Nissan Sentra turned out to be quite a nice compact family car. It has all the basic features one could need, has looks borrowed from its bigger brothers and a simple personality that will be light on the heart. The engine is decent and the gearbox is annoying but I think this can win some buybacks from the Koreans.

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