What a surprise.
Maybe I’ve just seen too many humble sedans and coupes tack on a “GT” or an “S” to their name…..maybe add a stripe or spoiler….and parade around as something that they’re not.
Not this little guy.
Compared to it’s non-Nismo little brother, Nissan’s new 2017 Nismo packs over 50% more power….bigger brakes….a slightly lowered performance suspension….and bigger alloys covered in all-season rubber.
It’s the real deal. An engaging compact four-door that still has room for five…is fun to drive….and can deliver between 30 and darn near 40 MPG’s. What’s not to like?
Let’s start with the name “Nismo”. That’s been Nissan’s performance / racing division for over 30 years. Much like Ford’s SVT…Chrysler’s SRT…Chevy’s SS….and, of course BMW’s M, Mercedes’ AMG and Audi’s RS.
And while there have been some very fast Nismos circling racetracks around the world over those past 33 years, ’17 is the first year that Nissan has put the Nismo name on their otherwise modest compact Sentra.
A base Sentra with wheel covers and little else will start well under $20,000, while a Nismo will run you around $8K more. It’s worth it. You’ll get a 188 HP turbo, your choice of 6-speed stick or a CVT automatic, the lowered sport suspension, bigger brakes and alloys mentioned above, an imitation suede black interior with contrasting red accents on heavily-contoured and heated sport seats, carbon-fiber trim, daytime LED lighting, hands-free messaging, an intelligent key with push-button start and a very gripable alcantara and leather steering wheel.
And one more thing. Instead of that more traditional performance stripe, Nissan gives its’ Sentra Nismo red exterior “frosting” accents on the lower trim all around the vehicle. Rather unique.
So for $25,000 plus, you’ve got a very well-rounded performance / economy / family car. And back to that “plus”…. there’s not much “plus” to add. Another $1,220 will get you an 8-speaker Bose audio upgrade plus “Nissan Connect” with Nav and Mobile Apps. That’s about it. If you want leather or a sunroof, you can have it on a Sentra….just not on the Nismo.
In a week’s test, we couldn’t get less than 30 MPG, no matter how hard we thrashed the Nismo. And when we drove it like we borrowed it from our Father-in-Law, we darn-near got 40.
“Utility”? With the fold-down rear seats, we got a lawnmower in the trunk with plenty of room to spare.
While roomy and quiet enough to painlessly go cross-country, Nissan’s Sentra Nismo is the perfect Urban Warrior. Put the transmission selector in “Sport” and you can squirt through traffic like an All-Pro making a broken-field run for the end zone.
Not all of Nissan’s competitors offer this level of performance, handling and competence at this price. I’m sure they will…..someday. But right now, Nissan’s Sentra Nismo kinda’ stands out.
You won’t be able to paint a number on the side and go out and win races, but you will raise your hand more often when they ask “OK….Who’s drivin’ today?”