Nissan has been without a contender in the sporty compact category since the previous generation’s SE-R Spec V was put out to pasture in 2012, but that is about to change with the announcement of the 2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO.
We were on hand in L.A. for the pre-show reveal and a brief drive (driving impressions to come later) of Nissan’s latest NISMO offering, packing the same direct-injection 1.6-liter turbo-four making 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque as the SR Turbo, while we were hoping for something closer to 200 hp to compete on more of an even footing with the GTI’s and Si’s on the scene. While the power levels aren’t going to blow anyone away, Nissan is offering a boon to enthusiasts, a 6-speed manual transmission in addition to the company’s Xtronic CVT. One of the main reasons Nissan didn’t go for big power to chase the likes of the GTI and Focus ST was keeping it affordable, with a starting price below $25,000 in the US.
Visually, the NISMO gets a “layered double wing” front, side and rear lower body wings, unique black grille, exhaust tips and NISMO badges, red accents and a NISMO rear fascia and spoiler that improves aerodynamics by reducing rear-end lift by 30 percent. The interior features the usual badges, red accents and sporty seatsColours, meanwhile, are limited to Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Super Black and Aspen White.
“For 2017, we’re bringing new excitement to Sentra with the Sentra NISMO, which brings driving enthusiasts aftermarket tuner-style performance straight from the factory,” said Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc.
To that end, Nissan has gone over every aspect of the Sentra’s chassis, delivering NISMO-tuned suspension and steering with upgraded Sentra NISMO strut, damper and front spring tuning monotube rear shock absorbers and beefed up stabilizer bars, all riding on NISMO 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 215/45R18 Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires.
Debuting at the LA show proper tomorrow alongside the Sentra NISMO will be the Nissan Rogue: Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition model, Juke Black Pearl Edition and updated Versa Note.