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Old 02-19-2007, 01:04 PM   #1
NYCshopper
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Default First Drive: 2007 Nissan Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V (Car & Driver)

First Drive: 2007 Nissan Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V (Car & Driver)

http://www.caranddriver.com/previews...-r-spec-v.html



Quote:
The latest SE-R is crisp and fun to drive, despite an upright stance and low-tech suspension design.

We’re going to come right out and say it: the new Nissan Sentra SE-R (above) does not recall the glory days of the original 1991-1994 SE-R. Actually, it’s unlikely that any Sentra SE-R will top the adulation for the initial version, given the positive taint that years of nostalgia have bestowed upon it. The first SE-R is a lot like your first kiss or your first batch of pancakes, both of which were probably sloppy and not as delicious as you now fondly remember. Since the first generation, the subsequent two generations were met with indifference and disappointment. So maybe the new, fourth-generation SE-R can’t top the original, but it’s vastly better than the previous model, at least when it comes to driving. As before, the hot Sentra comes in two versions: SE-R, and Spec V (next page). The SE-R comes only with a CVT, and the higher-output Spec V engine is mated to a six-speed manual.

Exterior and Interior
We’re still getting used to the upright looks of the Sentra, which shares a platform with the Renault Megane. The SE-R makes an effort to correct the awkward proportions with 17-inch wheels, aggressive front and rear fascias, and a rear spoiler. The effect is a subtle improvement, but it will never, ever be called pretty.

On the inside, there’s an oil pressure gauge and a g-meter to measure acceleration and deceleration. The rest of the interior is mostly unchanged from the Sentra, except for new front seats with red stitching and SE-R logos on the headrests; the Spec V gets the added flair of red seat belts. Despite the sporty looks of the front buckets, the side bolsters don’t do much to hold your upper body in place, and while the seat bottom accommodates cheeseburger-laden waistlines, skinnier posteriors will slide around during hard cornering. The Sentra SE-R has a 13-cubic-foot trunk and rear seats that can hold fully-grown adults. Front, front-side, and head curtain airbags are standard.

Engine and Transmission
Under the hood is the 2.5-liter QR25DE inline-four, which is also used in the Altima. In the SE-R, it makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound feet of torque. The Spec V has a higher compression ratio (10.5 versus 9.6), a 7000 rpm redline (up from 6200), and unique intake and exhaust manifolds, connecting rods, pistons, and camshafts to increase output to 200 hp and 180 lb-ft. The CVT in the SE-R works in automatic mode, or the driver can use steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles to operate in manumatic mode. SE-R engines will run on regular unleaded; the Spec V requires premium.

Chassis
Behind the 17-inch wheels are 11.7-inch front and 11.5 inch rear disc brakes in the SE-R; the Spec V upgrades to 12.6-inch rotors. ABS is standard, but the Sentra SE-R is one of the only sporty compacts extant that doesn’t offer stability control. In the SE-R, stiffer springs are the only other major chassis change from the base Sentra. The Spec V goes a step further with more aggressive summer tires, 0.4-inch lower springs, a larger 25mm front stabilizer bar, and extra bracing in the front and rear. The Spec V also offers an optional helical limited-slip front differential. Both cars retain the front strut and torsion-beam rear suspension setup. Despite being less sophisticated than an independent rear suspension, Nissan engineers claim the torsion beam gives the rear end enough stiffness without creating a harsh ride.

Driving Impressions
The engine starts (via an optional keyless system in the SE-R) and runs with remarkable smoothness—especially compared with the thrashy mill in the previous-generation SE-R. That smoothness continues all the way up to the 7000 rpm redline in the Spec V, and a soft rev limiter lets the engine sit exactly at the redline. The exhaust note is noticeable but not at all loud—most owners will probably look for an aftermarket exhaust. In manual mode, the SE-R effects gearshifts at its lower redline, whether the driver likes it or not. Nissan is optimistic about the CVT—the company sees the SE-R model as an alternative for customers who live in high-traffic areas where shifting is a pain. The manual mode is meant to bestow the automatic with some semblance of sportiness, and indeed it switches between the six pre-set ratios quickly and with almost zero delay. But unlike conventional automatics with a manumatic mode or dual-clutch manuals, the CVT keeps engine revs relatively constant, so ultimately you’ll get better engine response by leaving the transmission in automatic mode. The short-throw six speed in the Spec V is an improvement over the rubbery shift lever in the standard Sentra.

On the road, the Spec V accelerates with gusto, and the SE-R is similarly quick but feels like it’s lacking more than the 8 pound-feet of torque stated in the specifications. The Spec V engine works best above 4000 rpm, close to its 5200 rpm torque peak, and while it’s not nearly as asthmatic at low revs as the Honda Civic Si, it lacks low-end punch. Neither car feels as fast as more powerful competitors—or even the 200-hp turbocharged Volkswagen GTI. The upside is that the Spec V is usually rolling by the time significant torque kicks in, so torque steer is kept to a minimum. That alone makes the new SE-R better than its predecessor, but the new car has more to offer than that, like excellent balance. Upon entering a corner, the front end grips nicely and resists transitioning into understeer. Lift up on the throttle or jab the brakes and the back end will step out slightly—not a scary amount, but enough that the car can be positioned with the throttle. And speaking of the brakes, the bite is substantial and we noticed no fade. Unfortunately the steering, which is boosted electrically, is not quite as solid as the rest of the car. There’s a good feel for what’s going on with the car itself, but the road feel—what’s going on beneath the tires—is somewhat isolated.

The Verdict
The Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V aren’t quite as lively as the outgoing Mini Cooper S, but they hold their own compared with four-door sporty compacts. The Sentra SE-R Spec V edges the Honda Civic Si on turn-in, power, ride comfort, and overall livability. If the Sentra isn’t quite as refined as the Volkswagen GTI, it isn’t as expensive, either. Sure, the SE-R, even in Spec V trim, isn’t as extreme as the 263-hp Mazdaspeed 3, but the SE-R can still cover miles of curving back roads at high speeds and put a smile on its driver’s face. As a bargain pocket rocket, the new SE-R fits the mold cast by the original, albeit a larger, ungainly mold.
















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Old 02-19-2007, 01:05 PM   #2
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Old 02-19-2007, 01:05 PM   #3
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Old 02-19-2007, 01:07 PM   #4
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The aborted fetus of a Maxima + Saturn Ion.
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Old 02-19-2007, 01:12 PM   #5
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I'm sorry but this re-designed Sentra is awful compared to what this segment of cars has to offer these days.
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Old 02-19-2007, 01:13 PM   #6
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If only they'd made it look more sporty. It reminds me of a saturn ion from the side. But the more competition in the sport compact segment the better!
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Old 02-19-2007, 01:31 PM   #7
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What a joke. I would take an Si or a Cooper S any day over this POS.
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Old 02-19-2007, 02:43 PM   #8
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Mazda keeps both of its small and midsize sedans sporty and fun.

Nissan decided to make one boring and the other sporty, and proceed to make the small one boring and the big one sporty. I don't get the logic.
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Old 02-19-2007, 03:11 PM   #9
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reminds me of a toyota corolla S
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Old 02-19-2007, 03:15 PM   #10
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Wow, so lame. The old spec V and SE-Rs were 1000x better.
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Old 02-19-2007, 03:38 PM   #11
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non-turbo 4-bangers needing premium FTL!
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Old 02-19-2007, 04:35 PM   #12
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What a POS!!!!

Ugly,ill-proportioned,cheap looking.......the last SE-R was already bad enough.The name officially means nothing to me anymore.This just reinforces what I feel about Nissans of the past 6-7 years.....tacky as hell.The Altima SE-R is the only car in their line-up that does anything for me.
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Old 02-19-2007, 06:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melayout View Post
The aborted fetus of a Maxima + Saturn Ion.


I love the G meter. I know that's going to make for some great conversation over on the Nissan forums. I can see the thread topic now, "Which springs will make me pull 1+ G on the meter?"
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Old 02-19-2007, 06:14 PM   #14
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i guess i am the only one think it looks good...

the side profile reminds me of the upcoming 2008 corolla...

overall... looks pretty nissanish... definitely a member of the nissan family...

i guess people don't like the humping huh...?
well... a sti wing... or even, the new gtr wing will take care of that...
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Old 02-19-2007, 06:56 PM   #15
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who was assigned to design this car? it's as bad as the aztek.
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Old 02-19-2007, 07:11 PM   #16
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i think it's ugly.
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Old 02-19-2007, 07:29 PM   #17
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The world has truely gone topsy-turvy....I would rather drive a Chevy compact (Cobalt SS) over a Nissan Sentra.
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Old 02-19-2007, 08:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hhcchen View Post
i guess i am the only one think it looks good...

the side profile reminds me of the upcoming 2008 corolla...

overall... looks pretty nissanish... definitely a member of the nissan family...

i guess people don't like the humping huh...?
well... a sti wing... or even, the new gtr wing will take care of that...
I bet you were in Nissan's focus group.
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Old 02-19-2007, 08:39 PM   #19
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that things goofy lookin
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Old 02-19-2007, 09:09 PM   #20
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How un-inspiring. They have the new GT-R coming out and they give us this. What a damn shame.
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Old 02-19-2007, 09:37 PM   #21
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I think it's the lights that are ruining its look. They should've made it somethin like this:



All I did was take off the top of the lights that extend above the hoodline. Almost looks like an older Audi S4

Last edited by roksax; 02-19-2007 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 02-19-2007, 11:51 PM   #22
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It's just too bad that thing is fugly....
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Old 02-20-2007, 09:26 AM   #23
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I refuse to believe that those are 17" rims. Look as big as 15" steelies.
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Old 02-20-2007, 09:55 AM   #24
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wow, i thought my 04 was worse than the 02-03's now even the 04 looks beautyful!!!

Still glad i traded it for the STI.
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Old 02-20-2007, 11:52 AM   #25
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They really need to put a edge on all SE-R versions. Forget about making them pleasant to all drivers. They were launched by offering a harder core version of the standard models
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