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2010 Nissan Sentra SE-R – Click above for high-res image gallery

It's not that the Nissan Sentra is a 'bad car,' so to speak, but it's about as exciting to anyone with even a modicum of automotive enthusiasm as a haircut. Sadly, that milquetoast feeling even extends to the more powerful SE-R and 200-horsepower SE-R Spec V. Said another way, the current Sentra is a long time gone from the SR20DE-engined B13 Sentra SE-R of the early '90s.

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel: Nissan knows that its current Sentra is too boring. Al Castignetti, Nissan Division Vice President of Sales recently admitted to AutoWeek that "We miss the heart of the market right now. A lot of people reject the Sentra because of its looks... it is not a natural progression to move down to it from the Altima."

While you could certainly argue that the Sentra needs more than just a restyling – like, perhaps having more content and sporting potential to properly differentiate itself from the almost-as-large and significantly cheaper Versa – looking more like the handsome Altima sounds like a solid step in the right direction.

One thing's for certain: Nissan has big hopes for its next-gen compact car, which should hit the market in about two years. Castignetti believes that Nissan has the opportunity to increase sales from 100,000 units per year to 300,000. Lofty goals for sure, but both the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla prove that it can indeed be done.

Photos copyright ©2010 Chris Shunk / AOL

[Source: AutoWeek]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm a little partial to the Sentra, especially the SE-R. I have a 91 SE-R as my first car when I was a kid. It was a great little car, handled amazingly and devastated every civic that tried to race me. That being said, Nissan needs to do some serious work to the Sentra now, especially the spec-v. It's great that the spec-v tops out at around 22k, it makes for a cheap fun entry car. But Nissan has the know how to make it better. Id argue that the Juke motor would be killer in this car but not the se-r's. That engine is already maxed out basically, it runs at 28psi on the turbo if I remember correctly. If Nissan keeps the current engines, then they should make the 2.5 the SE-R motor with FWD and an option for the 6speed (currently only cvt). Make the SPEC-V a 2.5 turbo FWD then a SPEC-V2 2.5 turbo AWD (with a bump in hp). The current platform is already set up for AWD I believe. The motor mounts say FWD on them. This could be a killer vehicle and capture a lot of market if Nissan gets busy on it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      One thing about the Sentra though, it's dependable Japanese engineering on the cheap (perhaps doesn't apply post-Renault). As a broke college student, it was just that little bit cheaper used than a civic, etc. 160,000kms with nothing but oil changes, tires (once), brakes (once) and a belt (once). 9 Canadian winters with no rustproofing...and virtually no rust. No rattles, nothing ever fell off, and it was a peppy and fun drive the whole time. For what it was, it was hands down the best car I've ever owned. I used to thank the engineers in Hiroshima regularly for getting me around over the years cheaper than a bus pass would have cost. I think ABers, including myself, should try to remember that there's a place for the best car you can afford that's not necessarily the best car in the class.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's not that the Nissan Sentra is a 'bad car,' so to speak...........

      Yes it is! It is a horrible car... Enough said....
      • 4 Years Ago
      Went to Honda,Toyota and Nissan Dealers to compare the Civic,Corolla and Sentra.I found the Sentra was superior in every way to the other 2 cars,It's more comfortable,powerful and smooth.

      • 4 Years Ago
      The Sentra has always been an also-ran. The old 90's sentra that was supposedly so awesome was overshadowed by the competition in its day. That's back when Honda absolutely owned the enthusiast compact segment.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Enthusiast compact? If you're talking about the coverage of modified Civics in tuner mags vs the Sentra yeah that's one thing, I suppose.

        You apparently weren't into SCCA/auto-X back in those days. The B13 SE-R was formiddable, if not dominating in its class.

        Just cause you could order a bunch of parts from DC Sports or Nopi for a Civic/Acura didn't mean they were better performing cars to begin with.

        Civic Si/Corolla/GM J-body/Escort never compared stock vs. stock to the B13 SE-R or Neon ACR when it came time to compete on an actual racecourse/roadcourse with turns.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The only people who care about SCCA are people who race SCCA. I was racing a Galant VR-4 in ProRally back when it was a winning car. I never bought one for the street. It was ugly as sin. I wasn't talking about racing, and who cares? The Civic never came with a decent engine. They were hugely popular because they were easy to hop up, better looking than the competition, and well built. Nobody was looking at the SCCA runoff results to decide what street car to buy. The Hondas didn't have huge aftermarket support because it was just some fad. They huge aftermarket support because the masses figured out what a great platform they were to tune. I'm not going to waste my time digging up Auto-X and road course results because it's pointless, but I'm sure you are overlooking quite a lot of Honda success.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ironically, the Sentra actually picked up a lot of cues from the previous generation Altima, just applied to a shorter, narrower & taller proportion. Yes, Sentra is all that (including being taller than Altima)...

      The lesson is to not slavishly & literally make it look like a junior Altima, especially if the proportions work against it. If anything the proportions of the Altima are a strength and to ignore that in making Sentra is to make an awkward looking "mini-me" of an Altima. It can be argued that the proportions of Civic & new Elantra are what make these cars look snarky.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I say do away with the dull Sentra like they did with its equivalents in Europe and the Middle East, and give the US the Qashqai. Oh wait, they're selling that as a compact SUV there...the Rogue.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Couldn't agree with Jeremy Korzeniewski more. Nissan almost owned SCCA's showroom stock class with the wonderful handling 91-94 Sentra SER/NX2000 platforms and that SR20 jewel of an engine. Car and Driver gave it a ten best award two years running for those reasons.

      While neither the Sentra SER nor NX2000 could be called styling successes when introduced, the fun to drive factor is what transcended looks. It was a factor powerful enough to make the B13 Sentra a segment benchmark in the same way the 510 was decades ago.

      It's certainly time for another home run. But after seeing the Juke which is right up there with the Pontiac Aztek, one has to wonder what the game plan is at Nissan's styling studio.

      In the meantime, I've got two NX2000's and a parts car corralled while I wait for Nissan's home run in the upper end of the economy car segment. Here's what I'm waiting for Nissan:

      Take the Juke's DI turbo 1.6, couple it to a 6 speed MT, drop it into a nicely styled, fun to drive NX-like coupe with T tops (open air motoring is back, guys!) and useful hatch with fold down jump seats for grandkids (did I mention I've been waiting a while now?). Make sure it is capable of developing a racing pedigree if someone decides to put a cage in it and go to war.

      Do that and I will surely be enticed into your store.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Bring in the Sport Concept! You guys had it in Ghost in the Shell! And that new looking concept car... that looked like it would be the next gen altima.
      • 4 Years Ago
      between the focus and the hyundai, this segment is in for a shake up.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Such a laggard in terms of an innovative car, the Sentra has never been that great. Hopefully Nissan gets its act together, NO MORE AWKWARDNESS please. Crisp, clean and sporty is the way to go.

      I will admit though, I priced it against Civic, Mazda3, Corolla and Impreza for my gf 2 years ago and it came in significantly cheaper than the rest.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Never been that great? Bite your tongue.

        Mind you, the B13 is almost 20 years old, but it was brilliant. They failed to repeat that magic, at least in The States.

        It's a shame. The SR20VE was an amazing engine, and it was never put in an American Nissan.
      • 4 Years Ago
      With the exception of the Sentra and Versa, Nissan make beautiful cars and just butt ugly trucks. At least they recognize the problem with the Sentra. Could the trucks be next?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think the Titan and Frontier are some of the nicest trucks around, but their cars are weird.
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