Written by: Robert Nichols
Photography by: Robert Nichols
Sometimes it is the simplest things from which we can derive the most joy. For me that list would include smooth single malts, the natural beauty found in our Provincial parks and a small Japanese car powered by 4 cylinders and a manual transmission. Perhaps it is nothing more than nostalgia. The very first car I ever bought with my own money was a 1988 Honda Prelude. It was white, had limo-level tinted windows and a massive stereo. I loved that thing. For years I would relentlessly abuse the seemingly defenseless 4-banger and it just asked for more. In truth, if it had not been for the unstoppable rust that eventually devoured my car, I would still be driving it.
I recently drove a 2015 Nissan Sentra SV and found the same sort of joy. It is by no means a performance vehicle, it is not fast, it doesn’t make a particularly pleasant noise nor does it even handle all that well. The SE-R version is no more, but there was just something about the SV. Perhaps it was the simplicity of a manual transmission and the lack of technological distractions. It was almost therapeutic. We took it for a very long country drive down twisty backroads and used every last one of the limited horses.
The experience was a good one. The engine was eager to please and tried in all earnest to move us along at an enjoyable clip, while the tires and suspension, who are designed with cushiness in mind, made us feel as if we were pushing the limits of adhesion at every turn. This was the result of body roll and tire squeal that occurred at far lower speed than expected. In sporty cars this sort of thing is all but erased, with good reason. In a budget minded economy car however, they tend not to address such things. The needless complexities that have enveloped the modern car, while adding to our safety, and media interaction, in my opinion take away the sense of control. What I mean by that is the numerous electronic nannies and assistants leave me feeling like I am being driven rather than driving. The excitement is lost. But in the Sentra SV, no such systems were included. I was in command; if we – knock on wood – ran into a ditch, the fault would be mine, and mine alone.
To get that sort of feeling in the 370Z for instance, you would have to pay to drive on a race track where you could safely reach the very high speeds needed for such a car to feel at the limit. For the bulk of us, this sort of expense in terms of money and time, is out of reach. We are far too busy to drive hours out of our way to the nearest track just to burn off expensive premium fuel and pricey rubber. Why not get a similar thrill on open roads, without having to break any laws?
The 2015 Nissan Sentra has not changed much from the 2012 release. Nissan has added some features to attract buyers however. The SV now includes 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, A/C, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Nissan Intelligent Key with push button start, a RearView Monitor, NissanConnect with Mobile Apps, a 5.0-inch colour display, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, padded armrests, Bluetooth Streaming Audio, Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant, Smart Auto Headlights and the Easy-Fill Tire Alert system.
Even the base level S model has a few nice features like heated front seats, a six speaker stereo, security system, chrome gauge accents and premium cloth seating and door trim. There are two higher levels which include fancier kit like leather seating, Bose audio, 17” alloys, dual zone climate control, navigation etc. The best part is even the fully loaded SL version costs under $25,000.
There is only one engine for the Sentra: a humble 1.8L 4-cylinder. It ekes out a modest 130 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. There are two transmission options available: a 6-speed manual and a CVT. Unfortunately, if you want the 6-speed, as you should; you are limited to the base and SV models. The fuel economy is very good, and even with my exuberant use of the throttle pedal I averaged 6.4 L/100 km of mixed driving. There are also three modes, like most any car these days; Sport, Normal and ECO. The buttons control throttle response and CVT function.
Being an affordable car does have its drawbacks. The interior is simple and will be easy to clean, the manual seats are not the most supportive, but are comfortable enough for the commute. The dash is lacking any kind of elegance. It is straight forward offering you only what you really need to drive. Buttons and knobs control the heating and A/C as well as the radio, which also has touchscreen functions. You are able to plug in your phone or iPod via the USB port tucked away in the small center armrest bin and there are controls in the steering wheel for the stereo, cruise control and Bluetooth systems.
The driver’s gauges are plain, but I like the white/silver on black. It is easy to read, and minimalist. The rear seats have a lot of room, even with the driver’s seat set all the way back I fit nicely, and that happens rarely. The trunk is also larger than you may be expecting for a compact car. The trunk provides 427.6L of cargo space, which is expanded by the 60/40 split fold down rear seats. Interior volume is impressive at 3,143L.
The exterior design is above and beyond the price point. By including the Nissan signature trapezoid-shaped grille and large wraparound headlights with standard LED accents and LED taillights, this economy car appears to be a compact luxury offering. I am not saying it is gorgeous, but it will blend in with the pricier crowd.
What Nissan has delivered is the perfect commuter vehicle. The frugal engine will keep costs down. The sharp exterior design is neither garish nor unappealing; rather it is mature and comfortable with itself. The simple straight forward interior has more than enough space for the day to day grind and will be a cinch to tidy up should you spill your coffee (and no I did not spill my coffee). For those days when you just want to explore the country, the Sentra delivers the simple interaction between man and machine, nothing more, and nothing less.
型号 Model: 2015 Nissan Sentra SV
顏色 Paint Type: Cayenne Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $15,598
試車售價 Price as Tested: $18,698
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,700
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,625 / 1,760 / 1,495
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,296
引擎 Engine: 1.8L 4-cylinder with Variable Valve Timing
最大馬力 Horsepower: 130 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 128 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 8.9 / 6.6 / 7.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Bridgestone Turanza EL400 - P205/55R16