Sentra back after eight years – and it looks way better

Bobby Cheetham

THE Nissan Sentra was last seen in South Africa in 2005 – but in 2013 the new model has made its long-awaited appearance. First off, forget everything you knew about the old Sentra. The difference is like chalk and cheese.

Gone is the indifferent ugly duckling car which was easily lost in the crowded space of the South African car market – to be replaced by a beautiful swan.

Only one model is available, but in two derivatives – the 1.6 Acenta manual or CVT automatic.

The new, 13th generation Sentra is a sophisticated and stylish sedan.

Considered a global C-segment sedan, the company says the new Sentra has been designed around key consumer requirements for efficiency, space maximisation, performance and features – along with high build quality and quietness.

Powering the car is a 1.6-litre normally aspirated petrol engine which is mated either to a slick-shifting five-speed manual gearbox or a smart, efficient CVT automatic (continuously variable transmission). Producing 85kW at 5600rpm and 154Nm at 4000rpm, the more-than- capable engine features a smooth power delivery, good throttle response and 15% enhanced efficiency over the previous model, according to the company.

The manual consumes an average of 6.6l/ 100km on the combined cycle while the automatic consumes even less at 6.2.

Carbon emissions are 156 and 149g/km respectively.

Top speed is a respectable 180km/h. Nissan has not provided acceleration figures.

What surprises us is how the Sentra has grown in size.

Forget about the pokey car of old – in its place is a car the size of a Volkswagen Jetta. The boot is enormous and there’s lots of space for back and front seat passengers.

Inside there’s acres of headroom, a long wheelbase (2700mm), lower hip points for all occupants and a bigger boot (510 litres according to the VDA method) – with more space in every direction.

Of particular noteworthiness is the increase in shoulder room (up to 30mm), thanks to a 15mm increase in door depth and 60mm increase in overall vehicle width.

We also like the tilt-and-reach-adjustable multi-function steering wheel, high-quality black cloth upholstery, a soft-touch dashboard, padded armrests on the doors, and solid switchgear.

The smart analogue dials are simple and clean, with white electroluminescent back lighting creating a sophisticated mood especially at night.

Between them is a new LCD display panel which features white digits and a green economy bar, which in itself aids in reducing fuel consumption by promoting economical driving habits.

The multi-information computer display features readouts for range, average and real-time fuel consumption, two trip meters, outside temperature, and a gear-position indicator for the CVT automatic model.

In the manual model, the selected gear is displayed along with a gear-shift indicator – yet another feature aimed towards more efficient driving.

But what we like most is the pricing:

The 1.6 Acenta Manual sells for R230900 and the CVT auto R253600, including VAT.

Welcome back Sentra!

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