2013 Nissan Sentra | road test

Posted on Feb 10, 2013 by

Quick Review

GoodGood Roomy interior, Impressive feature list
BadBadTransmission from hell, Costs as much as a mid-range Altima
SpecsSpecs1.8 Liter 4 cylinder inline engine, 130hp @ 6000 rpm, 174 Nm @ 3600 rpm, CVT transmission
PricePriceAED 81,500 (As tested)
RatingEditors Rating Three Star

Say hello to the largest compact sedan

2013 Nissan Sentra

Cloning seems to be the newest trend in the automotive industry. Audi started it with its model line up and Lexus followed. Well, sort of.  Now, seems to have jumped in to the game too. First, came the 2013 Altima that can easily be mistaken for a Maxima. Next on the cards is the 2013 a.k.a. a scaled down photocopy of the Nissan Altima. Designers will have us believe that the justification for similarities is to maintain a “family look” and we’d buy that. I can see the benefits of this to a buyer when his car looks like the more expensive Altima and Maxima, but I don’t see this flowing in the other direction well.

Surprisingly though, the press kit claims that this car has more room than some luxury sedans! We at AutoMiddleEast stepped in to validate this crazy claim!

2013 Nissan Sentra

While Nissan has been selling the Sentra globally for a few years now, the region got only its poorer cousin the Sunny for long many years, followed by the TIIDA. The formidable Toyota Corolla ruled the segment in the region. Realization set in and so did a sense of urgency to do something about it. Nissan finally decided to launch the brand new 2013 Sentra in the Middle East. The 2013 Nissan Sentra is introduced as a replacement for the TIIDA sedan. If you’ve already been in a TIIDA sedan and were expecting something similar from the 2013 Nissan Sentra, you are in for a pleasant surprise!

2013 Nissan Sentra

The 2013 Nissan Sentra comes with a choice of two engines – a 1.6L and a 1.8L. Our test car was an SL premium trim (full options) with the 1.8L engine producing a meager 130hp and 174Nm of torque. Combine this with a straight from hell CVT and the drivetrain is as much fun as watching paint dry. What seems to be a practical joke is the sport button on the gear lever. Press it and you instantly hear the difference. You are greeted with an annoying drone that makes a wailing 5 year old sound like music to your ears.

2013 Nissan Sentra

CVT’s are possibly the worst invention since the Segway. And this is no different. However, I must admit, while stepping on the gas pedal is annoying due to the constant revving, the CVT does make the most out of the available 130 horses which would have been a lot harder with a traditional auto box. Acceleration isn’t the best with a 0-100 time of 9.9 seconds. But then again, you don’t buy a Nissan Sentra for its drag racing abilities. Nissan claims judicious usage of the accelerator will give you a fuel consumption of 6.7L/100km. Highly questionable in the real world as you really need to give it some stick for the feeble engine to get the car moving.

2013 Nissan Sentra

The skinny tires do not appreciate being pushed and will quickly break traction if driven even with mild enthusiasm. While the car feels comfortable at low speeds, the confused suspension makes for a bouncy ride while cruising down Sheikh Zayed Road at highway speeds. Not your weapon of choice for the Abu Dhabi – Dubai commute then. The low seating position can take a little time getting used to and may even be uncomfortable for shorter folk while they struggle to look out of the car. You’ll be fine if you aren’t short.

2013 Nissan Sentra

What the Sentra lacks in brawn it makes up in brain. With all the options checked, you get keyless go with push button ignition, dual zone air-conditioning, rear view camera, navigation, steering controls, cruise control, sunroof, Bluetooth,  and iPod/aux inputs. A Leather wrapped steering wheel with faux wooden trim and leather seats makes for a pretty luxurious interior for a car this size. The 5.8” optional touch screen worked brilliantly while the LED map lamps add light to the interior with a bit of style. LED accent lamps integrated into the headlamps add a nice touch and are standard on all trims except the base model.

2013 Nissan Sentra

The seating position for both driver and passenger is low but comfortable. Rear legroom is plenty and can easily accommodate a 6-footer even with the drivers’ seat pushed all the way back. The boot is enormous for a car this size and easily swallowed up 2 check-in size and 2 cabin size trolley bags while ferrying passengers back from the airport! Rear ventilation comes as standard which will definitely be useful during the hotter months. The only gripe with the interior was the cigarette lighter location. While using it to charge the phone, the light from the ashtray got so distracting that we eventually stuffed a tissue in there for the light to not bother us.  Overall, the interior has a fit and finish better than you would expect.

2013 Nissan Sentra

The 2013 Nissan Sentra has gotten a complete makeover and now offers plenty of kit that was far beyond its reach in the past. In terms of safety, the SL trim is available with side airbags for added safety while ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) come as standard. What is most impressive with the new model is the amount of space available for passengers as well as storage which can be a huge selling point for the Sentra. If your requirement is to ferry tall passengers while carrying loads of luggage on a budget, this is the car you want.

2013 Nissan Sentra

Starting at a price of AED 57,500 for the 1.6L engine, it will appeal to buyers looking at a budget mobile. Expect a basic interior with none of the bits that makes this car stand out. However, once fully loaded (the model to go for), it costs AED 81,500 (as much as the price of new mid-range Nissan Altima).

2013 Nissan Sentra

Justifying the price tag for a car of this size can be a little tricky and makes you wonder if all the added options are really worth it.  If you are the tree hugging type that feels good about driving a car that is miserly on fuel while not letting the wheezy four pot and CVT be a bother, this might be the car for you. If not, you might just miss the good ol’ TIIDA sedan.

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