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Spacious Sentra with excellent engine

Some features fall short of luxury feel

Published:Friday | October 2, 2015 | 10:49 AMKawain Fearon

As new vehicle dealers roll out their 2016 models, Automotives continues to take an in-depth look at some of what is new on the Jamaican market, or has been upgraded. Today, it is sedan time with the Nissan Sentra.

The Nissan Sentra (B17) has grown up, boasting a new look and refreshed feel from the model we are used to seeing. It is more aesthetically pleasing and in line with the overall modern and stylish element that Nissan is bringing to its vehicles.

It is the first time that the Sentra is being officially sold new in Jamaica by Nissan dealer, Fidelity Motors.

The body grooves and chrome grille front are what really sell the car and will make you look twice to ensure you are seeing right. For a compact car, however, it does look big.

If you need more space, the Sentra certainly isn't short on that. There is enough leg and head room for both driver and passenger; everyone will have a comfortable ride to wherever you want to go.

We all have friends with baggage and the Sentra caters to this with its huge trunk space, enough to place a particularly annoying pal, along with what they are carrying. The cabin is quiet, so outside interruptions are kept at minimal.

One of the standard features of new cars now is the steering-wheel audio/Bluetooth controls. The Sentra is duly equipped. However, for me, a right-handed person I would love the controls to be in line with my dominant hand.

Branded as an introduction to luxury, the Sentra's interior is almost there. The padded door armrest is a good feel for your elbow. The hard plastic gives it a classy look, but venturing in the middle console of the dashboard is where it starts to cheapen, with the outdated hollow plastic.

Even the middle armrest does not feel that durable.

The front seats are OK. They give a nice fit and are fairly comfortable. However, the material is way too soft and does not give that 'start to luxury' feel. If you are having children in your Sentra, then it's best to negotiate a treaty before allowing them in. The seats don't feel that durable.

What, however, is impressive with the B17 is its 1.6 litre engine, which is surprisingly responsive (and packs a mean growl on acceleration), with excellent suspension to match. One reason for its responsiveness is that the Sentra has the most advanced CVT (continuously variable transmission) systems in the Nissan line, making it more precise and is geared towards fuel efficiency.

Sport mode

The minute you start to accelerate, you can literally hear the engine wake up and go, giving you that aggressive feel. If you want more out of the Sentra, you can shift to sport mode, which gives way more aggression than you would think imaginable with an engine size of 1.6 litres. The only drawback that may have you reconsidering pushing the car to its maximum is that it feels a bit light. It does, however, hug corners quite well.

The Sentra is easy to park, with the reverse assist camera showing in the rear-view mirror. The camera gives you a good and clear view of what is behind you, and given that the back of the Sentra is high, it's an even better feature.

While the Sentra isn't equipped with a lot of features, it is practical. If you are looking to get around town swiftly while having persons stare at your ride because of its aesthetic appeal, then this is the car you would want to drive.