Nissan cleared the slate before penning the all-new 2020 Sentra, and the resulting asthetic is a refreshing blend of Maxima lines with LED lighting – but the real magic was worked under the skin.
The Japanese automaker once applauded for its previously brilliant four-door compact sedan has gone to great lengths to re-invent its best-selling vehicle – Nissan has sold more than 6-million in North America since its debut in 1982 – and it certainly shows. Whereas the most recent generation of the Sentra has grown stale, uninspiring and far from stylish, this new generation rides on an all-new chassis, which allowed engineers to make a few key changes.
The solid rear axle (think pickup trucks and wagons) has been replaced with an independent rear suspension, which promises to dramatically improve the car’s handling through corners as well as its ride comfort over bumps.
A new dual-pinion rack electric power steering system (coined DP-EPS by Nissan) was implimented to enhance steering feel, giving drivers a much-craved connection to the road that was lacking in Sentras of late. Sticking with electric assistance allows the Sentra to squeeze maximum range from every drop of fuel. Expect execptional fuel mileage, slightly enhanced beyond the 2019 Sentra’s respectable 8.8 L/100 km (26.7 mpg) city, 6.6 L/100 km (35 mpg) highway fuel economy ratings, despite its larger size.
Speaking of its dimensions, Nissan has pushed out the tent-pins by a significant margin; the Sentra now rides on a 2.0-inch wider track. This wider stance further enhances the new Sentra’s cornering abilities with a significantly lower centre of gravity, also achieved by lowering the car’s overall height by 2.2-inches.
The chassis wasn’t the only thing to grow – Nissan has increased the Sentra’s engine size from 1.8- to 2.0-litres, which allowed for a significant bump in power. The 4-cylider mill is now rated at 149 horsepower and 145 ft-lb of torque, constituting a 20 percent increase in power.
That said, no one is buying Sentras for their outright performance these days. As the compact sedan segment’s audience has matured, so has Nissan’s people-mover. What matters far more to today’s compact sedan buyer is the measure of luxury and refinement they’ll find behind the wheel.
And in this department of quality materials and driver comfort, the new Sentra is poised to deliver in spades. In fact, if Nissan’s press release is any indication, the new Sentra will likely be the class leader in terms of luxury and refinement.
Starting at the very front of the car, new LED headlamps and foglamps light the way with such helpful features as auto-dimming highbeams and sharply-focused projection, to throw maximum light where it’s needed most.
A plethora of transmitters and sensors encircle the car to provide a blanket of driver assistance features, including intelligent cruise control and automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection – Nissan has bundled these technologies and more into a driver assistance package called Safety Shield 360.
In its best-equipped trim level, the Sentra SR Platinum package, an 8-speaker Bose audio system will crank your tunes while you enjoy more comfortable 6-way adjustable leatherette-wrapped seats. The new interior of the Sentra looks to be a very nice place to spend time, with accent stitching, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and turbine-shaped air vents all coalescing to create an ambiance that’s a cut above the segment.
Speaking of the SR badge – we miss the days of the SE-R Spec-V, a Sentra that packed 200 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque under its handsomely-shaped hood. Back when this performance model launched in 2004, this spicy Sentra battled the Civic Si for urban supremacy. Those days are long gone, but it’s not unimaginable that Nissan could someday offer a performance-enhanced version of its latest bread-and-butter sedan. We certainly hope so.
The 2019 Sentra still on sale at dealerships starts at $16,698 CAD; if Nissan doesn’t move the price point much beyond its current sticker, the Sentra is sure to pack a lot of value for relatively little money.
We look forward to getting behind the wheel of Nissan’s Corolla- and Civic-fighter at our earliest opportunity.
[Photos and source: Nissan]