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L.A. Auto Show 2016: Nissan adds a Sentra to its NISMO line

L.A. Auto Show 2016: Nissan adds a Sentra to its NISMO line
Nissan will add a Sentra NISMO to its racy collection of GT-R, 370Z and Juke NISMO cars. (Nissan)

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.

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What’s new

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.

The competition

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 details

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.

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