The Nissan Sentra saw a complete redesign back in 2013, when due to low figures and a declining popularity, Nissan decided it was time for a change. It gave a similar treatment to the Altima and the Maxima. In other words, LED lights, updated navigation system, premium options… you get the point. Then in 2016 it was that time again and the 2016 Sentra saw a complete redesign because after 3 years and a modest success, Nissan wanted to facelift the Sentra before it got too outdated, by giving it an even more appealing exterior, nicer interior and loads more gadgets and features.
Now in 2017, Nissan introduces the Sentra SR Turbo. It was only a matter of time before Nissan decided to go the turbo route in their compact sedan, and we’re lucky they did. The first ever turbocharged Sentra receives more power and torque, becoming a genuine rival to the segment leading 2017 Honda Civic and the Mazda3. The Sentra is Nissan’s third best-selling model in North America, and Nissan aims to take it to the top spot with the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo.
From the outside, the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo looks the same as its standard SV model counterpart, with only a slight distinguishing by way of a small SR Turbo badge on the trunk, just above the right tail light. I would say that it’s typical to deck out a performance version model with skirting, chrome or other aftermarket-like flourishes, but in this case I’m happy the 2017 Sentra SR Turbo keeps its low key profile.
Since the 2017 Sentra SR Turbo is based on the SV model (rather than the base model S), it still benefits from all the sport upgrades included in the SV. This means lower side sill extensions, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a rear spoiler with an integrated LED lights, chrome exhaust pipes and even lower side sill extensions. Up front it boasts LED projector headlights (not included in the SV model), foglights, and heated side mirrors with LED turn signals, just like the Sentra SV model.
The 2017 Nissan SR Turbo reserved most of its changes for what’s under the hood, so it’s not that surprising that the interior is almost a complete carryover from the SV model. Up front we find sports heated cloth seats (optional leather upgrade), a driver’s seatback pocket and the usual 5-inch touchscreen with Nissan’s Advanced Drive-Assist infotainment system. The design is simple, straightforward and clean, so there’s not much to add there. The center console is uncluttered and the dashboard offers a nice flow, integrating beautifully into the door panels. The ergonomics are superb, but we expected that from Nissan. Everything is exactly where you’d expect to find it, even if you haven’t driven a Nissan before.
There’s a decent amount of headroom and legroom in both rows, so you can easily fit four adults and travel in sumptuous comfort, but five is a bit cramped in the rear. As for the seats themselves, they’re nice and comfortable, with good lateral support and the option to upgrade to leather.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
For the first time ever we find a turbocharged engine under the hood of the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo. All other models, get a naturally-aspirated unit, but not the SR Turbo. A 1.6L four-cylinder sporting a turbocharger outputs 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque versus the standard Sentra’s 124 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque originating from a 1.8L four-cylinder engine. With this 64 horsepower and 52 lb-ft of torque increase, suddenly, you get an idea as to how big of an improvement a turbocharger can make!
Driving enthusiast will be happy with the performance of the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo. Zippy accelerations, precise handling and a sticky cornering all add to the exhilaration of driving this turbo charged Sentra.
While I found the six-speed manual to be a lot of fun, I suspect that most buyers will opt for the continuously variable transmission (at least it offers a manual mode!). The 2017 Sentra SR Turbo gets a revised suspension and a unique suspension setup compared to the rest of the Sentra lineup. The front wheels hide bigger brakes as well, to cope with the added speed the turbocharger brings.
Fuel economy does suffer slightly in the turbo version with posted rates at 7.3 L/100km on the highway and 9.1 L/100km in the city (versus 6.3 L/100km highway and 8.1 L/100km city for the SV model).
The compact sedan market is highly competitive and the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo goes up against some tough competition. The Honda Civic has been the definitive compact sedan for decades, while the Mazda3 started taking the title as a dynamic top performer. However, thanks to the introduction of the turbo charged engine in the 2017 Sentra, things have started to change. Offering more power than the Civic and better dynamic capabilities than the Mazda3, the practical and spacious 2017 Sentra SR Turbo should be considered the new benchmark compact sedan for which to compare all others.