Front view 2017 Nissan Sentra SR
2017 Nissan Sentra SR

Test Drive: 2017 Nissan Sentra SR

The Nissan Sentra is usually a pretty unassuming vehicle.

And that’s not a slight toward the midsize model since it has been around for almost as long as I have been alive. So it must be doing something right.

After a facelift for 2016, though, Nissan has given the model a little boost for the 2017 model year.

That comes in the form of a turbocharged engine, a first for the Sentra in North America.

Part of the Sentra’s success comes from its affordability, with a starting price of just under $16,000. The Sentra SR Turbo is a littler pricier, however.

The base price of the Sentra 1.6 SR is $21,598, but our tester came in at $26,898 after options and fees.

Our tester was equipped with the $3,400 Premium Package and had a $300 charge for three-coat paint for the Pearl Blue exterior.

The Premium Package includes a Bose audio system with eight speakers, a six-way power driver’s seat and more.

As you can imagine from the name, the SR Turbo version of the sedan gets a little bit more kick than the standard model.

The 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine delivers 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. Those are some pretty good numbers for a vehicle of this size.

All that power is moved to the wheels of our tester through a six-speed manual transmission, which is standard for the SR (an Xtronic CVT is optional).

And this was a little bit of a sticking point for me with.

Generally, I am a huge fane of manual gearboxes and, for the most part, that was the case with this vehicle. I did find some gearshifts to be a little sticky, with the shifter needing a harder nudge in some cases.

Fuel consumption on the turbocharged engine with the six-speed manual is rated at 9.1 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 7.3 L/100 km on the highway. My average in a week with the mid-size car came out to 9.8 L/100 km.

Not only does the SR stand out because of what it has under the hood, Nissan also adds some distinguishing exterior features.

Up front, there are LED headlights with LED accents, and a set of fog lights. Lower body side sill extensions, a rear spoiler, chrome exhaust finisher and heated exterior mirrors with LED turn signals complete the exterior look.

And the SR also gets a nice set of 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

The design tweaks allow the sportier Sentra to stand out among its siblings without screaming for attention. But even with the changes, there is no mistaking this for a Sentra.

The passenger compartment of the SR receives some upgrades, notably premium sport cloth seats, driver’s seatback pockets and heated front seats as standard. The Premium Package changes the seats to leather, and also comes with a power sunroof, auto-dimming inside mirror with integrated HomeLink.

I enjoyed my time in the cabin for a few reasons, particularly because that it was pretty quiet despite the extra horsepower. Part of the reason for that, Nissan says, is an increased thickness in the front and rear window glass.

And the layout of all the controls and gauges is, for the most part, on point. However, I found the location of the switches for the seat warmers to be awkwardly placed below the shifter. It made reaching for them a little difficult if you wanted to turn the heaters on or off while moving.

That Bose audio system, which includes two subwoofers, is paired with a 5.8-inch colour touch-screen monitor. In the SR with the Premium Package, that also includes NissanConnect with navigation and SiriusXM satellite radio with traffic feature.

The SR delivers an experience that is far from what you would expect in a Sentra.

The sound system is excellent for the car’s smallish cabin, and the large screen – in comparison to the size of the dash – is easy to read and operate.

If your impression of the Sentra is of a bare bones, middling vehicle that sounds like it is being stretched to its limit on the highway, the SR should change your opinion.

The engine acts and sounds the part, making this Sentra a treat to boot around town with.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned issue with the shifter, the overall experience behind the wheel is smile inducing.

Part of the reason behind that is the suspension tuning, revised steering and an improved body structure that Nissan says engineers worked into the SR to handle the increase in power and torque from the SR’s engine.

The SR trim is a definite upgrade over the base Sentra, but for anyone who remembers the SE-R of yesteryear, they would be sadly disappointed with an SR.

But if you are seeking a compact car with a little more oomph and don’t want to fork over a fortune, the Sentra SR is a worthy contender.

2017 Sentra SR
Price as tested: $26,898.00
Freight: $1,600.00
Configuration: front engine/front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre four cylinder turbocharged / 6-speed manual
Power/torque: 188 horsepower/ 177 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Regular (50 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.3 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 9.8 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus

Related links:
Nissan Canada

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