A sporty, subcompact car manufactured by Nissan from 1982 to the present time. Based on the Japanese Sunny, the Sentra has enjoyed great popularity in North America, and in Europe as the Almera.

The first generation B11 Sentra was released in 1982, until 1986. It used a small, SOHC 1.5-liter E15 engine in its initial release year, with the 1.6-liter "E16" inline four cylinder becoming standard until 1988. Its looks were non-sensational, and very similar to its main competitor, the Toyota Tercel. B12, released in 1987 until 1990, looked somewhat similar to its predecessor, and continuing to use the E16 until 1989, when it was traded out for the GA16i 1.6-liter.

The B13 generation saw a major change in the Sentra's appearance and performance, now using a DOHC, fuel injected GA16DE engine, which would be the mainstay of the Sentra line until 1999. Its lines became a little more contoured. Several trim levels were available, from the base E and XE coupe and sedans, the improved GXE sedan, and the SE and SE-R coupes. The SE-R was by far the best offering out of the seven models, being the only one to use the SR20DE 2-liter engine and optional ABS (also an option for the GXE), producing 140 hp.

The introduction of the B14 in 1995 came with little fanfare. It became smaller and more streamlined, and looked quite unlike the previous generations. Not much changed in the way of engines: the base model, XE, GLE and GXE still used the 1.6-liter I4 from the B13, and there were not many major differences between the four models (of which, only the XE and GXE survived after 1998). The high-performance Sentra was sold as the Nissan 200SX, and came in SE and SE-R trims (still using the SR20DE, whilst the SE-R used the turbo-powered SR20DET).

The current model, the B15, succeeded the B14 in 2000 and the two base models, the XE and GXE, adopted the new QG18DE 1.8-liter engine. A new trim level, the 2.5LE, uses a 2.5-liter V6 engine (probably the VQ25DE), the largest that's been available in a production Sentra to date. And lastly, the name "Sentra" has been dropped entirely from the SE-R, which got a major design overhaul, currently resembling a mini-Skyline. It continues to use the SR20DE, but now outputs a good 165 horsepower (a further improved trim level, SE-R Spec V -- the V is for Victory -- adds 10 horse).

The whole series is likely to be retired in favor of making the Nissan Altima the flagship model.

The Nissan Sentra is one of the best-value vehicles available. It has in the past been available with both two and four doors and as both wagon and sedan/coupe, but the Sentra is now strictly a four-foor sedan. They are inexpensive, highly reliable, and as is Nissan's typical MO, more powerful and better-handling than the competition. As is also typical of Nissans, they have the most legroom in their class, beating out even the US Domestic compacts.

The Sentra name was born in 1982, as an export name for the Sunny (for the US market.) Prior to this, the Sunny was known as the B210 (1973-1977, chassis code B210) and the 210 (no B; 1978-1982, chassis code B310.) Thus, the modern sentra is the descendant of these rear-wheel drive vehicles, which still enjoy a great deal of popularity since the majority of them predate California smog laws, and they are extremely light in weight. They commonly receive the Nissan KA engines (KA24E and KA24DE) as a swap.

The 1982 Sunny (chassis B11) was finally exported to the US under a non-numeric name: Sentra. This was the first front wheel drive Sunny, and due to its modern design (for the day) was the first vehicle to move from the "Datsun" name to "Nissan" - although as on other early-badge Nissans, the name "Datsun" appears under Nissan, probably as an attempt to eliminate confusion over where this "Nissan" company came from.

1982 Sentra (US) specifications:

  • Body styles:
    • 4-Door Wagon
    • 2-Door Sedan
    • 4-Door Sedan
    • 2-Door Hatchback
  • Engines:
    • 1.5l L4
    • 1.7l L4
  • Transmissions:
    • 3 Speed Automatic
    • 4 Speed Manual
    • 5 Speed Manual
  • Suspension:

The B12 Sunny (1985-1989) was also exported as a Sentra. It continued to have very angular styling, and also was even more box-shaped. It also sold very poorly. This was about when Nissan started having financial problems. It is particularly confusing that Nissan made this mistake, while in the same era they were defining automotive styling, first with the classic straight-six Z cars (240Z, 260Z, 280Z/ZX) and then later with their V6 sports cars (Z31 300ZX, and Z32 300ZX.)

1985 Sentra (US) Specifications:

  • Body styles:
    • 4-Door Wagon
    • 2-Door Sedan
    • 4-Door Sedan
    • 2-Door Hatchback
  • Engines:
    • 1.6l L4
    • 1.7l L4
  • Transmissions:
    • 3 Speed Automatic
    • 4 Speed Manual
    • 5 Speed Manual
  • Suspension:
    • Front: MacPherson Strut
    • Rear: MacPherson Strut

Things picked up again with the 1991-1994 B13 Sentra. It was offered both as a coupe and a sedan (2 and 4 doors, respectively, in this case) and came with the GA16DE engine, a 1.6 liter putting out over 100 horsepower. In addition, this was the first time a SE-R sport model was offered; this was the first vehicle to carry the now-legendary SR20DE 2.0 liter engine. This model SE-R remained on Car and Driver's best ten list throughout its lifetime.

1991 Sentra (US) Specifications:

  • Body styles:
    • 2-Door Sedan
    • 4-Door Sedan
  • Engines:
    • 1.6l L4
    • 2.0l L4
  • Transmissions:
    • 3 Speed Automatic
    • 4 Speed Automatic
    • 4 Speed Manual
    • 5 Speed Manual
  • Suspension:
    • Front: MacPherson Strut
    • Rear: MacPherson Strut

The B14 (1995-1999) Sentra is significantly degraded from the prior model in most respects, having bother cheaper interior and a non-independent rear suspension (a Torsion Bar setup.) In addition, 1995 through 1997 sentras are only offered in a base model with the 1.6 liter engine. The two-door sentra was renamed the 200SX, and took the performance parts with it, including the two-liter SR. 1998 and 1999 Sentras are available in an SE model, which has the SR back.

1995 Sentra (US) Specifications:

  • Body styles:
    • 4-Door Sedan
      • Cd: 0.33
      • Length: 4,321 mm
      • Width: 1,689 mm
      • Height: 1,384 mm
      • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): 1,458 kg
      • Curb weight: 1,043 kg
      • Front headroom: 993 mm
      • Rear headroom: 927 mm
      • Front hip room: 1,273 mm
      • Rear hip room: 1,339 mm
      • Front leg room: 1,074 mm
      • Rear leg room: 823 mm
      • Front shoulder room: 1,351 mm
      • Rear shoulder room: 1,346 mm
      • Interior volume: 2,469 l
  • Engines:
    • 1.6l L4
      • Valves: 4/cyl
      • Cams: DOHC
      • Displacement: 1,597 cc
      • Bore: 76mm
      • Stroke: 88mm
      • Compression Ratio: 9.9:1
      • Fuel Delivery: MPFI
      • Fuel: Unleaded
      • Peak Power: 115 HP/86 kW @ 6,000 RPM
      • Peak Torque: 108 ft-lb/146 Nm @ 4,000 RPM
  • Transmissions:
    • 4 Speed Automatic
    • 5 Speed Manual
  • Suspension:
    • Front: MacPherson Strut
    • Rear: Torsion Bar with Coil-Overs
    • Wheelbase: 2,532 mm
    • Front track: 1,478 mm
    • Rear track: 1,445 mm
    • Curb to curb turning circle: 10,363 mm
  • Capacities:
    • Fuel Tank: 50 l

The B15 model Sentra (2000-2006) is the first "compact" (as opposed to subcompact) model. The 1.6 liter engine was replaced with the 1.8 liter QG18DE. In 2002, the SE-R returned, this time with the QR25DE from the Altima. The SE-R comes with a 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic transmission. There is also a SE-R Spec V, which came with 10 more horsepower (175) and a 6-speed manual gearbox paired with a helical (mechanical) limited slip differential in addition to some minor suspension refinements. Unfortunately, base Sentras lost their front sway bar this year (they don't need a rear, since they use torsion bar suspension) further degrading their driveability. This is likely due to the influence of Renault, who purchased a majority stake in Nissan during this period and succeeded in saving beleaguered Nissan from bankruptcy.

2000 Sentra (US) Specifications:

  • Body styles:
    • 4-Door Sedan
      • Cd: 0.33
      • Length: 4,509 mm
      • Width: 1,709 mm
      • Height: 1,410 mm
      • Curb weight: 1,171 kg
      • Front headroom: 1,013 mm
      • Rear headroom: 940 mm
      • Front hip room: 1,323 mm
      • Rear hip room: 1,328 mm
      • Front leg room: 1,057 mm
      • Rear leg room: 856 mm
      • Front shoulder room: 1,334 mm
      • Rear shoulder room: 1,336 mm
      • Interior volume: 2,506 l
  • Engines:
    • 1.8l L4
      • Valves: 4/cyl
      • Cams: DOHC
      • Displacement: 1,769 cc
      • Bore: 80mm
      • Stroke: 88mm
      • Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
      • Fuel Delivery: MPFI
      • Fuel: Unleaded
      • Peak Power: 126 HP/94 kW @ 6,000 RPM
      • Peak Torque: 129 ft-lb/175 Nm @ 2,400 RPM
  • Transmissions:
    • 4 Speed Automatic
    • 5 Speed Manual
  • Suspension:
    • Front: MacPherson Strut
    • Rear: Torsion Bar with Coil-Overs
    • Wheelbase: 2,535 mm
    • Front track: 1,481 mm
    • Rear track: 1,461 mm
    • Curb to curb turning circle: 10,394 mm
  • Capacities:
    • Fuel Tank: 50 l

2007 is the first model year for the upcoming (at the time of this article) B16 Sentra, which is based on a new platform shared by both Nissan and Renault and called "Global C". It is larger than the B15 in every dimension and will be the first vehicle driven by Nissan and Renault's new MR20DE all-aluminum, variable valve timing powerplant and either a 6 speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission.

References:

  1. "Nissan Sentra." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 13 Jul 2006, 14:19 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 13 Jul 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nissan_Sentra&oldid=63602992>.
  2. "Nissan Sunny." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 Jul 2006, 00:59 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 13 Jul 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nissan_Sunny&oldid=61942289>.
  3. "Nissan MR engine." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 30 Mar 2006, 19:07 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 13 Jul 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nissan_MR_engine&oldid=46201816>.
  4. "1982 Nissan Sentra Specifications & Data." PRIMEDIA, 2006. <http://www.automobilemag.com/am/1982/nissan/sentra/specifications.html>
  5. "1985 Nissan Sentra Specifications & Vehicle Data." Motor Trend Magazine Online. PRIMEDIA, 2006. <http://www.motortrend.com/cars/1985/nissan/sentra/specifications/index.html>
  6. "1991 Nissan Sentra Specifications & Vehicle Data." Motor Trend Magazine Online. PRIMEDIA, 2006. <http://www.motortrend.com/cars/1991/nissan/sentra/specifications/index.html>
  7. "1995 Nissan Sentra Specifications & Vehicle Data." Motor Trend Magazine Online. PRIMEDIA, 2006. <http://www.motortrend.com/cars/1995/nissan/sentra/specifications/index.html>
  8. "2000 Nissan Sentra Specifications & Vehicle Data." Motor Trend Magazine Online. PRIMEDIA, 2006. <http://www.motortrend.com/cars/2000/nissan/sentra/specifications/index.html>

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