Modern Motoring: A first drive in the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo

Fresh off a redesign in 2016, the 2017 Sentra lineup sees its first ever turbo offering, with the official name rolling off the tongue as the “2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo.”
For Nissan’s popular compact offering (second only in popularity to the Rogue) the choice to bump up the horsepower (by close to 50% over the other Sentra’s which come in at 130 hp) was to add an element of fun to accompany its practicality.  Some may remember the Sentra Spec V/SE-R from yesteryear and its wild popularity; that’s not quite the same approach Nissan takes here. Rather, it’s to appeal to a wider audience who want some pep in their step when booting around town. Plus, with the standard Sentra’s giving 130 horsepower, that ranked pretty low compared to others in its class, such as the Civic, Mazda 3, Elantra, etc. This iteration allows sensible buyers to have a very affordable option that’s a marginal increase from the second level out of 4 SV trim.

Instead of building an entirely new engine for the SR Turbo, they simply lifted the engine out of the quirky Juke. Why build when you can borrow from yourself?
Specifically, beneath the hood is 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft. of torque run through an 1.6 litre turbocharged (of course) four cylinder engine. 
Fuel efficiency in a controlled testing environment registers at 9.1 city and 7.3 city for L/100 km and expect those figures (like all of them) to see some movement depending on your style and type of driving. 

On the road, my automatic tester (yes, there is a #savethemanuals 6-speed available that I’m sure is plenty of fun to drive) did exactly what it was supposed to with all those extra ponies; it was much more responsive, peppy and actually fun to drive. 
I don’t say it as a shot against the Sentra brand…keeping in mind that it’s practicality and cost that’s most heavily weighted when buying a Sentra…nobody is jumping into it for the 130 horsepower.
I’m happy that Nissan finally decided to bring back a stronger engine for the Sentra as it’s a long way to climb up to the popularity of the Civic, Corolla and Mazda 3.  Slow (errr, fast?) and steady, right?

My few days behind the wheel saw me do a few hundred clicks of mixed driving and the backroads of Milton really showed off what the SR Turbo is capable of. Even with the moderate turbo lag, the car jumps up to speed happily and there were a few moments that I forgot that I was in a Sentra.
There is a bit of body roll around turns/corners but it’s still an enjoyable driving experience overall.

Cosmetically, there are 17” alloy rims, LED lights, rear spoiler, fog lights that come standard with this trim. The balance of the body remains unchanged, which is a good thing as I find the Sentra lineup improved with the 2016 redesign. 
Inside, there’s blue sport stitching and a Juke-inspired steering wheel as noticeable standouts. 
The Sentra’s conservative interior design is something I’m a fan of because everything is easy to reach, the buttons are a good size and while some may complain at the 5” touchscreen size, it’s really not that bad. Add in the generous amount of trunk space and comfort level for rear passengers that are better than most of their competition and this move has injected fun into an already sensible car.
There is a Premium Package up for grabs that’ll add $3,400 to your price and it includes 8 Bose speakers, a 5.8” touchscreen, navigation, blind spot and cross traffic alerts, leather seats and a few other goodies.

Perhaps Nissan will opt to have this as the standard engine in all Sentra’s in coming years, which would give the brand a huge competitive boost in the marketplace, even if the cost of the base S trim has to tap into the mid- $16,000 + mark from the existing  $15,898 MSRP.

Enjoy the full gallery below: