Nissan Sentra review

We finally get around to reviewing the mini-Altima

By Shahzad Sheikh

Nissan Sentra

During several of our regular radio appearances on James Piecowye’s CarTalk on NightLine (Monday nights from 8pm on Dubai Eye – 103.8FM) I’ve been berated for laying into the Nissan Sentra, even though I’d never actually driven the thing. One of our co-presenters insisted that I should give it a go, because it’s really not as bad as I think.

And you know, technically speaking, he was right. It’s really not as bad as I was thinking. Not quite as bad that is.

Honestly speaking it’s a car that leaves me slightly confused. If a Sunny is a Corolla rival and an Altima is a Camry rival, what’s a Sentra? Or is the Sunny a slightly larger Yaris rival?

Anyway, whatever it might be – I have got to admit, it’s a far, FAR, better looking car than the new Sunny. In fact it has a shrunken Altima look about it that from some angles can be quite appealing. Might take a while to find those angles though.

Nissan Sentra

Inside it’s a similar story. At first glance it’s a downsized version of an upmarket car, but it seems to be pretending a little. As you settle in, you realise that it’s closer to what you’d expect for the money. Still kudos for good first impressions.

Space and spec is pretty decent – although we had the top-spec 1.8 SL Premium which is loaded but somewhat pricey at AED81,500.

Prices start from AED57,500 for the 1.6S. The 1.6 SV is AED62,500 and the 1.6 SV Sport is AED67,500. 1.8 starts at AED62,000 for the S and the SL is priced at AED72,500.

So the 1.8 then. What a beast huh? Er… not really. It puts out about 130bhp and 128lb ft of torque and accelerates to 100kph in about 9.4 seconds with a top speed of 190kph. So not the quickest thing out there. And what little might it does have is stifled by the miserable CVT gearbox, one of my pet hates when it comes to these smaller Nissans.

Nissan Sentra

It just drones and moans and feels unnatural as well as draining the car of any last remnants of spirit that may have been found in the Sentra. You do get the impression that it might be a slightly better affair with a manual gearbox to play with.

Still none of this is relevant, because that’s not what this car is about. It’s a big-small, not-so-cheap but expensive feeling compact saloon, that’s reliable, dependable and will get you around well enough. The decent level of kit on this range-topper will make you feel reasonably smug too.

So it’s somewhere between decent fleet fodder and private buyer choice for those that just don’t care about the actual driving process. They just wanna feel they got some decent value for their Dirhams. And that’s fair enough.

For me though, let’s leave off where we came in. Yes it’s not as bad as I thought, it’s just not good enough for me to want to have to think about it every again. So the next person to mention this on the radio will have their mike cord snipped!

Nissan Sentra

2013 Nissan Sentra 1.8
Price: AED62k-81,500 ($17k-22k)
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder, 130bhp @ 6000rpm, 128lb ft @ 3600rpm
Performance: 9.3secs 0-100kph, 190kph (limited), 8L/100
Transmission: CVT auto, front-wheel drive
Weight: 1321kg

Would you buy the new Sentra? Tell us why below

One response to “Nissan Sentra review”

  1. johnny b says:

    that should keep them quiet for a while……

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