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Frisky Dingo

New Sentra SR Turbo Quick Drive

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I'll keep this one brief, as I didn't get a real long stint due to the near empty gas tank new cars are delivered to the dealer with. Just enough time to get a pretty decent impression of it.

 

Car was a 6MT that stickered for a shade over 23K. Right off the bat, I'm not a fan of the clutch. It's softer than a marshmallow, with an absurdly long travel, and a super vague engagement point. No feel to it whatsoever. Made me feel like a manual car-novice. The next impression is the acceleration. And it's pretty modest. Yeah, yeah, I daily a GTI, but still. This is an engine that likes and needs to be revved. There's not much going on down low. It wakes up above 4,000 rpm. And if you're not careful, it hits the rev limit hard. The red hash marks start at 6,500 rpm, and that's precisely when the fun ends. Not 6,600 rpm, not even 6,500.247 rpm. Six and one-half on the dot. And when you hit it, it takes an eternity to gather it's wits and let you continue on. Ok, so don't do that again. Second gear now. The shift itself is just okay. The shifter is kind of ropey and could use a bit more effort. But the throw isn't terrible, and it goes into gates pretty decent. Acceleration I feel is best felt in most milder street cars in  2nd gear. It feels alright. Certainly adequate enough to get you flowing with traffic easily and with enough gusto for small levels on entertainment. Third gear now. The straight line fizzle is mostly gone. As you run up over 60 mph, you've asked for about all the accelerative force this guy can muster. That's okay, we haven't hit any turns yet.

Now we have, and we're understeering towards a guard rail. Oops. Dial it back a little, and while the steady, and early, push is still there, it's not as bad. Easily manageable. There's a fair bit of body roll, as you might expect. 205/50/17's and enough wheel gap for a CUV are mostly to thank for the soft cornering attitude and modest limits. The tires squeal early and often. But it's not totally unenjoyable to push this little car laughably hard while not risking life and limb, or a massive ticket. The steering is pretty good. Nissan typically does steering right, and this one's no exception. It's pretty quick, nicely weighted, and accurate, though offering little feel. It allows for easy wheeling around turns and parking lots alike. The ride is nice and smooth, as you might expect given the less-than-exciting driving dynamics. The braking is okay. They work. They're not particularly strong or weak.

I didn't give it much attention, but this thing did return pretty good mileage while I was zipping around in it. The interior is mediocre at best. It's roomy. It looks pretty decent. Idk what more you want here.

All in all, this is by no means a terrible little car. It's no GTI or Fiesta ST. It really doesn't even make too compelling of a case against it's more realistic rivals, like say a 5MT Golf SE or a manual Mazda 3 Sedan, which can be had in Grand Touring trim for not much more money. Incentives will probably make that real-life number more in favor of the Nissan, however. Judged for what the car is- a slightly faster trim of a slightly sportier trim of an affordable compact economy sedan- it's not too bad. You could certainly do worse with 23K. But you could also do better. It's really probably only a set of good springs, wider/stickier tires, and a $650 tune away from being a riot of little daily driver. So consider it a bit of a diamond in the rough, and appreciate, like I do, that someone is at least still willing to build a stick shift 4 door sedan in today's world of automatics, and relentless electro-nannies ready and willing to make you more of a passenger than a driver.

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11 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

Sounds roughly similar to my Nissan Sentra SR Turbo First Drive though I had the CVT. 

 

Indeed. I'm curious to see how the CVT car drives. I hate to say it, but it might actually be better.

 

I may have just expected a bit too much on the handling front. It's really not bad, it's just the power makes you push a little harder than you oughta, haha.

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1 hour ago, Frisky Dingo said:

 

Indeed. I'm curious to see how the CVT car drives. I hate to say it, but it might actually be better.

 

I may have just expected a bit too much on the handling front. It's really not bad, it's just the power makes you push a little harder than you oughta, haha.

It really is just a slightly more powerful compact segment car... not so much a full out performance car like the WRX or GTI. 

The CVT was bad from an outright performance perspective, but in "normal" driving, I imagine it would make good use of the torque. 

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2 hours ago, Stew said:

I am wondering how this will compare with the the Elantra Sport and the Jetta 1.8T (or GLI even).

 

Last year's Jetta 1.8T Sport comes in a few hundred bucks cheaper even after the Lighting Package and slays this car. It's not even remotely in the same league as the GLI. For MY '17, it gets dicey, as the 1.8T is only in the SEL now, which Auto-only, and almost 3K more than the car I drove. An SR Turbo would need the optional Premium Pkg to match the Jetta's equipment, however, and is only a hair cheaper. Same story there, Jetta all the way.

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1 hour ago, ccap41 said:

..except..reliability.. Nissan VS VW? Easy decision in that department.

 

Brand to brand, Nissan enjoys only a small statistical reliability advantage. In this particular comparison, it would be hard to assess seeing as in how the Sentra's engine has only been used in the Juke, which sells in relatively small numbers, and the Jetta's 1.8T has only been around a few years.

Nobody is going to buy these cars to keep for 200K miles. Let's be real.

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Of all cars small mile-eaters are the most likely to see 200k miles..at least I think so. And I actually wasn't just talking about engine for reliability. I was more just making fun of VW for them being known to not be very reliable as a whole

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From what I see in the business, they are one of the least likely to mske it that far. Aside  from the usual suspects- Hondas and Toyotas. On the whole, it's usually trucks and suv's.

Besides, Nissan's reliability  on their newer models is definitely not stellar. 

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12 hours ago, ccap41 said:

..except..reliability.. Nissan VS VW? Easy decision in that department.

Yes, buy a Mazda 3 or a Cruze. 

11 hours ago, Frisky Dingo said:

 

Brand to brand, Nissan enjoys only a small statistical reliability advantage. In this particular comparison, it would be hard to assess seeing as in how the Sentra's engine has only been used in the Juke, which sells in relatively small numbers, and the Jetta's 1.8T has only been around a few years.

Nobody is going to buy these cars to keep for 200K miles. Let's be real.

You do not often see Nissans around here with that kind of mileage.  MK IV Jettas seem to reproduce in the seedier sides of town, much like cockroaches. I expect one to be parked next to a W body Imapala when the sun finally burns out.

13 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

It really is just a slightly more powerful compact segment car... not so much a full out performance car like the WRX or GTI. 

The CVT was bad from an outright performance perspective, but in "normal" driving, I imagine it would make good use of the torque. 

And this is the Rub, the GTI can be had for marginally more money, as can the WRX.  Resale is very good on older STI's, and stellar on the WRX.  The Nissan will be worth a good Pizza dinner and a couple of beers in eight to ten years.

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12 hours ago, Frisky Dingo said:

 

Last year's Jetta 1.8T Sport comes in a few hundred bucks cheaper even after the Lighting Package and slays this car. It's not even remotely in the same league as the GLI. For MY '17, it gets dicey, as the 1.8T is only in the SEL now, which Auto-only, and almost 3K more than the car I drove. An SR Turbo would need the optional Premium Pkg to match the Jetta's equipment, however, and is only a hair cheaper. Same story there, Jetta all the way.

I noticed yesterday that they have really cut down their available models for 17. 

11 hours ago, Frisky Dingo said:

 

Brand to brand, Nissan enjoys only a small statistical reliability advantage. In this particular comparison, it would be hard to assess seeing as in how the Sentra's engine has only been used in the Juke, which sells in relatively small numbers, and the Jetta's 1.8T has only been around a few years.

Nobody is going to buy these cars to keep for 200K miles. Let's be real.

I am aiming for at least 150k with the Beetle haha.  The 1.8T seems to be a pretty stout little engine though.  I almost wish I had gotten a 1.8T Beetle, but then I wouldn't have gotten the better rear suspension setup. 

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33 minutes ago, Stew said:

I noticed yesterday that they have really cut down their available models for 17. 

I am aiming for at least 150k with the Beetle haha.  The 1.8T seems to be a pretty stout little engine though.  I almost wish I had gotten a 1.8T Beetle, but then I wouldn't have gotten the better rear suspension setup. 

 

Yeah, I can't believe they have reduced their trims the way they have. It's a shame, they eliminated some really good models, such as the aforementioned Jetta Sport. I think it's a big mistake. The last thing VW needs to do is offer less options.

 

40 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Yes, buy a Mazda 3 or a Cruze. 

You do not often see Nissans around here with that kind of mileage.  MK IV Jettas seem to reproduce in the seedier sides of town, much like cockroaches. I expect one to be parked next to a W body Imapala when the sun finally burns out.

And this is the Rub, the GTI can be had for marginally more money, as can the WRX.  Resale is very good on older STI's, and stellar on the WRX.  The Nissan will be worth a good Pizza dinner and a couple of beers in eight to ten years.

A 3, sure. But the Cruze is a total snooze fest to drive. And I don't think it's really a good choice if you're going for long term reliability, either.

 

As for the price comparison, that is a fair point, but the same thing can be said about other vehicles in the class, especially the 3. Those things get pricey. And while they may have good dynamics, the GTI and WRX play in a different league no question.

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2 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

 

Yeah, I can't believe they have reduced their trims the way they have. It's a shame, they eliminated some really good models, such as the aforementioned Jetta Sport. I think it's a big mistake. The last thing VW needs to do is offer less options.

 

A 3, sure. But the Cruze is a total snooze fest to drive. And I don't think it's really a good choice if you're going for long term reliability, either.

 

As for the price comparison, that is a fair point, but the same thing can be said about other vehicles in the class, especially the 3. Those things get pricey. And while they may have good dynamics, the GTI and WRX play in a different league no question.

For me I enjoy driving performance cars and they have wildly better re sale.  Price a 2005 WRX and anything Nissan built in 2005.  And the GTI has a Cult following.

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2 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

For me I enjoy driving performance cars and they have wildly better re sale.  Price a 2005 WRX and anything Nissan built in 2005.  And the GTI has a Cult following.

Well, the GT-R does have stellar resale value. Though that bubble is bound to pop soon.

 

And the GTI has severe depreciation the first few years. Then it levels out.

Edited by Frisky Dingo

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22 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

Well, the GT-R does have stellar resale value. Though that bubble is bound to pop soon.

 

And the GTI has severe depreciation the first few years. Then it levels out.

Which is why I usually buy gently used.  Yes, the GTR bubble will burst, which is why I woudl buy a WRX. Values have held steady for a decade and a half...

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4 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

A 1 year old GTI is an insane value.

Ohhh yes it is. Thinking I might want something a little more raw for my next car, but dollar for dollar it is one of the best cars on the planet.

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UPDATE-

 

Got a chance to take a spin in a CVT car a few days ago. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but I liked it better than the manual. The CVT does a much better job of allowing the little turbo to make it's boost noticeable. The car feels considerably quicker in virtually all areas. That job of keeping the engine in it's relatively narrow power band is alleviated, letting you just enjoy the power.

Considering this car still falls well-short of a proper enthusiast model and is better suited to economic DD with a little extra pep, I think the CVT being a no-cost option really seals the deal for it being the better pick here. Sorry.

On a side note, this car is just crying out for a proper NISMO model. I'd love to see this car with 200hp, an LSD, upgraded brakes, suspension, and rolling stock.

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20 hours ago, Frisky Dingo said:

UPDATE-

 

Got a chance to take a spin in a CVT car a few days ago. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but I liked it better than the manual. The CVT does a much better job of allowing the little turbo to make it's boost noticeable. The car feels considerably quicker in virtually all areas. That job of keeping the engine in it's relatively narrow power band is alleviated, letting you just enjoy the power.

Considering this car still falls well-short of a proper enthusiast model and is better suited to economic DD with a little extra pep, I think the CVT being a no-cost option really seals the deal for it being the better pick here. Sorry.

On a side note, this car is just crying out for a proper NISMO model. I'd love to see this car with 200hp, an LSD, upgraded brakes, suspension, and rolling stock.

Agree on the Nismo thing, but that would probably price it out of its viability. At some point something like a GTI or Ecoboost Mustang becomes a competitor, and they are both much more car than a Sentra ever will be.

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2 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Agree on the Nismo thing, but that would probably price it out of its viability. At some point something like a GTI or Ecoboost Mustang becomes a competitor, and they are both much more car than a Sentra ever will be.

 

I think they could make it a viable option to the GTI. A lot of people don't like hatchbacks, and the GLI is a much easier target to go after. While still powerful, it's a little less engaging and crisp than the GTI.


And it'd be a crucial step in keeping Nissan relevant in the enthusiast car market. They could really use it. With the Z and GT-R both being very long in the tooth, it'd help their image.

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42 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

 

I think they could make it a viable option to the GTI. A lot of people don't like hatchbacks, and the GLI is a much easier target to go after. While still powerful, it's a little less engaging and crisp than the GTI.


And it'd be a crucial step in keeping Nissan relevant in the enthusiast car market. They could really use it. With the Z and GT-R both being very long in the tooth, it'd help their image.

Agree that it would help their image.  I do not trust them to pull it off well though. Back in 2003 one of my best friends and I looked at an SER-Spec V Sentra, Mazdaspeed protege, Focus SVT, and Neon SRT-4.

Sentra SER-Spec V was easily the worst of the lot, and not by a small margin.  I can't imagine this one being better in terms of actual execution.  just being honest.

My friend Dave still has the SVT Focus.  Highlight of the test drive is when Dave took the entrance ramp to I-270 at a relatively elevated speed and the salesman's face turned a color I had never seen before. Salesman was cool about it....he said "I told you guys to push the car and test it out...."

I wonder how much of the younger target demographic would be into a small performance car? I have an 18 and 23 year old sons, most of their friends are not into cars the way people once were.

Were they to put a proper effort into pulling that off though....the 90's Nissan small lightweight performance cars were just utterly wonderful.  However, the Nissan boys seem to have lost their touch back in the first Clinton presidency....

Edited by A Horse With No Name

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11 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Agree that it would help their image.  I do not trust them to pull it off well though. Back in 2003 one of my best friends and I looked at an SER-Spec V Sentra, Mazdaspeed protege, Focus SVT, and Neon SRT-4.

Sentra SER-Spec V was easily the worst of the lot, and not by a small margin.  I can't imagine this one being better in terms of actual execution.  just being honest.

My friend Dave still has the SVT Focus.  Highlight of the test drive is when Dave took the entrance ramp to I-270 at a relatively elevated speed and the salesman's face turned a color I had never seen before. Salesman was cool about it....he said "I told you guys to push the car and test it out...."

I wonder how much of the younger target demographic would be into a small performance car? I have an 18 and 23 year old sons, most of their friends are not into cars the way people once were.

Were they to put a proper effort into pulling that off though....the 90's Nissan small lightweight performance cars were just utterly wonderful.  However, the Nissan boys seem to have lost their touch back in the first Clinton presidency....

 

True. But this time they have an FI engine, and there's less competition.

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Indeed....it would be good for the market.  Competition would keep cars like the Fiesta St around also.

In an ideal world, VW would send us a POLO GTI and Sirroco to bolster their small performance lineup....

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21 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Indeed....it would be good for the market.  Competition would keep cars like the Fiesta St around also.

In an ideal world, VW would send us a POLO GTI and Sirroco to bolster their small performance lineup....

Dude, I would LOVE a Polo GTI. Hell, don't stop there, give us an Up! GTI, too, lol. 

I would actually possibly buy something that small for just a fun commuter.

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