What is it?
Nissan is adding a Sentra to its collection of NISMO cars, the ones that get the company's highest-performing engines, best steering and suspension, and wildest owners.
Why it matters
The NISMOs are halo cars for Nissan — not big sellers, but exceedingly popular with Japanese compact car fans and the automotive press. By adding the Sentra for the first time to a collection that already includes a GT-R, 370Z, Juke and Juke RS NISMOs, Nissan is trying to restore to the staid Sentra some of the race cred it had when the Sentra SE-R was winning races in the 1990s.
This is the first time Sentra has been offered in a NISMO format, so everything from body to suspension to tires to powertrain gets the race car treatment. It's still a four-door, but it has a new face, new grill and badge treatments, and a leather- and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.
Is this a gateway car for tuner-nuts who can't afford a GT-R? Or a creative alternative to the more obvious Civic Si? Or the car that Scion buyers will choose, since Toyota no longer makes that marque?
The Sentra NISMO will be built with a turbocharged, 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine that Nissan says will produce 188 horsepower and 177 pound feet of torque. Owners can match that with a 6-speed manual transmission, or a NISMO-tuned version of Nissan's Xtronic automatic transmission. The NISMO can be seen at the auto show alongside other 2017 Sentra trim levels, including the Sentra S and SR Turbo (both offered with manual and automatic transmissions) and the SV, SR and SL (offered with automatic only). The NISMO version will have a starting MSRP of $25,000, Nissan says.