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Let's get the important bits out of the way - The SR Turbo lifts the rather excellent powertrain from the Juke, good for 188 BHP and 177 lb/ft of torque, and puts it straight into a car that has desperately needed a power bump for years. Nissan even brought along the six-speed manual, preventing the proverbial knee cap that so many brands normally choose to do. They even went about giving the Sentra a chassis that might be worth writing home about - Bigger brakes, firmer springs, and better damping rates front and rear, all topped off with more steering feel. Its almost as though Nissan knew what they were doing.
But then reality begins to sink in. Like a former athlete looking to get back in shape, the SR Turbo tries to get back to its performance roots despite a body that has gotten a little too big and a little too heavy all these years later. Yes, Nissan has beefed up with an extra 50 BHP over the standard SR, but when you're already 200 or more pounds up on the Chevrolet Cruze, your performance potential starts to get clipped. Beyond that, when they talk about making the suspension several magnitudes stiffer, they forget to mention that they're multiplying on top of what already felt like zero to begin with. Not exactly inspiring for sporting credentials.
In the end, that may be the Sentra's crime. We've already been teased by the Sentra NISMO, and if it were to come to fruition, it will only serve to make the SR Turbo a bit more of a moot point. Yes, we've gotten much of what we wanted, but it comes with a realization that the Sentra could have and definitely should have been so much more. Even with a power output that is at the front of the class, it would seem to be rather silly to think that anyone would consider it to be a sportier option than a Civic EX-T or even a Jetta SE. Yes, at somewhere south of $23,000, the SR Turbo represents itself as an interesting proposition in the market today. Problem is, that same Civic and Jetta both come with either better equipment or better engineering out of the box. Start adding variables like the Civic Sport, Mazda 3s, or even the Juke itself, and that value prospect becomes even more muddy.
If anything, perhaps it is a strong indication of where Nissan wants to take the Sentra. After all, any progress towards a sporty attitude for the Sentra is appreciated at this point.There are far too many of us who are ready for a smaller, lighter, sportier, next-generation Sentra. If the market wants it, and the SR Turbo sells, we just may get what we want.