Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Used Car Review - Nissan Sentra (1995-2001)

Nostalgia strikes Myk Belmonte today as we go back to the 90s. So what do you remember during that time? Watching Doraemon and Bananas in Pajamas every morning. Collecting toys from Jolibee and McDonalds. Or riding in a B14 Sentra that your parents had out of a company car plan (this depends on the company your parents worked for).

1995-2001 Nissan Sentra

Thanks to user GTi of tsikot.com for supplying some data!

The Nissan Sentra was among the nameplates that received mixed success in the Philippines. Generation by generation, public reception ranged from the good to the bad. The 1988 Sentra (aka Series I or B12) was a success at first but after build and reliability problems mushroomed, people went back to the Corolla and Lancer of the same generation. In mid-1989, it received a new face, chiseled several angles, and improved built quality but Nissan Motors Philippines had to think of a new idea. It was 1992 on the calendar and the Sentra Series II (with platform code B13) was launched. It was a trendsetter back then for offering Anti-lock brakes and 4 disc brakes on its top level SE Saloon trim. So successful, that Nissan sold the Sentra B13 until 1999 in 1.3 base flavors. The Series III Sentra (or B14) was a mixed success in different sectors.

Internationally, this generation was released in 1995 selling under the Sentra, Sunny, and Lucino (200SX) nameplates. This model was put into production from 1995-1999 (although some countries had this one until 2002) and even sporty variants such as the SE & SE-R (it's a tuner's favorite).

The Filipino motorist had their hands on the B14 or Series III Sentra in March 1995 and as I mentioned earlier, it was met with mixed success. A facelift (or shall I say body lift, if ever Belo coined this word) was introduced in 1998 that somewhat looked tacky (but this one varies on someone's taste). Variants include the base FE (added in late 1997), EX Saloon, Super Saloon, Super Touring (1996-1997) and the GT-S (1998-2000). A luxury variant called the Exalta was released in 2000 with luxury items for less cash (this variant will be covered on a separate review). On production until 2001, where the N13 Sentra under the badging "Sentra Exalta" was made available.

Value and Costs
Nissan's not-so-stellar resale prices can be an advantage to used car buyers as prices range from P120,000-P170,000 in varying variants and conditions (do take note that the prices do not include the Exalta variant). This likewise presents to find a unit in mint condition and avoiding ex-taxis and modified units, since these can be a potential money pit.

With this vehicle being popular, parts are widely available and affordable. As with 90's vehicles, check out if the carburetor from an FE variant works decently. And variants with carburetors under their hood do not have an automatic transmission to be paired with.

Exterior and Interior
Evolving from its boxy predecessor, the Sentra has a curvaceous rear that resembles the ones in hatchbacks and complements its sporty nature, as is with the taillights and brake lamp. The front is somewhat frumpy looking, however. The facelift looked more conservative than sporty.

The smaller dimensions may fool you but it is spacious inside, roomy for five occupants. Although tall occupants and those aspiring for ala-basketball player height would think twice on sitting on the rear, as is their heads can hit the roof. Location of controls is placed where the driver could easily reach and manipulate it.

A variety of engines are made standard in the Sentra Series III. These include the GA13DS 1,295cc for the FE trim, GA14DE 1,392cc for EX Saloon models, GA16DNE 1,597cc for the Super Saloon, Super Touring, and GTS variants. While the GA13DS with 79hp at 6,000rpm and 104Nm at 3,600rpm and GA14DE which possess 87hp at 6,000rpm and 116Nm at 3,600rpm are nothing home to write about, the GA16DNE possesses 110hp and 138Nm. It may seem conservative on paper but rev it in the 4,500rpm range and it becomes a pseudo sports car and can bring out the race car driver in you. Even at low rpms, it still has decent power.

Driving Impressions
This is one of the best affordable options if one prioritizes affordability and comfort. Yes, the Sentra is one comfortable car, thanks to the McPherson and multilink beam suspension combo. Handling is confident although not as agile as the Civic. While the driver can get his Michael Schumacher or Lewis Hamilton dreams in an ordinary priced car, the passenger can sleep soundly despite being on the rough road or the smooth asphalt.

Despite facing a bad rep, Sentra's are good choices for cash-strapped buyers who are not picky nor badge snobs. They do have abundant features at less prices. Imagine this; you can get a 1.6 liter car as priced same as a 1.3 variant of a competitor! Now, that's a bargain. What could be the loss of a brand new owner can be the gain of a used car buyer.

The Good:
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable ride
  • Strong engine power for 1.6 models
The Bad:
  • Not so agile handling
  • Tacky facelift for 1998-2001 models 
  • Reputation
The Pick: 1995-1997 1.6 Super Saloon MT or AT

Engines: 1,295cc GA13DS carburetor, 1,392cc GA14DE and 1,597cc GA16DNE I4 gasoline
Power: 79hp @ 6,000rpm (1.3), 87hp @ 6,000rpm (1.4), 110hp @ 6,000rpm (1.6)
Torque: 104Nm @ 3,600rpm (1.3), 116Nm @ 3,600rpm (1.4), 138Nm @ 4,000rpm (1.6)
Fuel Consumption: 8-11km/L (city); 10-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic
Suspension:  Front McPherson strut, rear multilink beam axle

Price (New): P340,000-P570,000 (range from 1995-2001)
Price (Now): P120,000-P170,000
Rivals: Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 323 Familia, Proton Wira, Daewoo Espero, Daewoo Cielo
On Sale: 1995-2001

Nissan Mantrade - 812-6879
Nissan Gallery Ortigas - 635-5888
Nissan Commonwealth - 932-0428

Photos by Myk Belmonte
Sentra unit provided by Guadix Auto exchange


  1. I like your blog. Made me 1 step closer to choosing sentra super saloon!

    1. Thanks for making this article as a source before buying! Enjoy your car!

  2. Couldn't agree more. Bad reps are merely caused by "sabi-sabis" and stuff passed down by manong mekaniko sa kanto during the time Nissan is a bit new entering the Ph market. Some idiots would say a great a/c is the only thing that a Sentra has against its competitors. xD We have the B13 ECCS before and it was quite fast for a 1.6 during its time! Our Rolla Gli, and a relative's Lancer couldn't handle it. hehe. Which reminds me about a trivia.. The B13 ECCS was once banned at our local Touring Cars events for being a little bit more fast than the other competitors. ;) Ok back to the car itself. It also has more features than other makes has to offer. The B13 is so popular in other countries that in Mex it is still in production up to now!!

    Anyways, I know pinoy buyers are now smarter... They don't believe the "sabi-sabis" of Manong Mekaniko sa kanto anymore. :D Remember, Nissan won't be num. 2 on the Japanese Big 3 (Toyota, Nissan, Honda) globally for nothing. Good thing Nissan Japan took notice of our rather small market lately and is trying to bring back its glory days. :) Just imagine this, Mitsubishi sells well locally but in fact globally they are in fact ailing. So yeah, our small market is quite different compared to other countries. ;)

  3. I had 2 Sentras already - a B12 SLX, which I sold because my DSLR broke, and a B14 GTS, which I am using right now. I am also a certified member of Sentra Club Philippines. All I can say is that the Sentra badge is the most underrated second-hand car as the Philippine market favors the Civic line up due to its high resale value. Well, it's not really the case anymore since a lot of owners are discarding their 1997 Civic VTis now for as low as 160K. That's almost at the resale price range for Sentras of the same time period.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not a Civic hater. I just happen to favor the Sentra over it. Slap an SR20VE on this baby and you have an instant tuner's favorite! The stock GA16DNE, though lacking a variable valve lift feature, still has more than ample power for your city driving and touring needs. It's also one of the most reliable cars that you can have.

    Aftermarket parts don't come cheap but they are easy to find, plus, you have the option to visit surplus shops and find tons of second hand parts in really low prices. I had to have my air-con compressor replaced and got a used one but in a really good condition for 3700 PhP. Not bad, eh?

    For second hand car hunters out there, consider a Sentra. If you find a decently kept one, you'll never regret the purchase. Any Sentra owner can assure you that.

    Well, I hope this comment was able to complement the article. Thanks for reading!

    -- Page Osorio

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. True, nissans here in the philippines are the most under-rated and under-appreciated car you can fall in love with. My friend and i really love the nissan brand ever since we learned about the r32 skyline and how it dominated its class in racing at the time. Yes honda had the nsx but what was more popular at the time or up until now? People said a lot of things about nissan sentras when i was just reading car magazines at the time and never rally had money to buy anything. I got to ride some friends cars but at the time the corolla big body was the popular choice. Now fast forward to today. I still don't own a sentra but it's bigger, badder brother, the bluebird/altima u13 equipped with the venerable sr20de engine. Yes i had to buy and replace a lot of things and i still dont see an end in sight. But it gets me more excited to finish this project because my car is running really good even though there are some more things to replace. And the ownership cost for my nissan? Bought the car for 50k, repainted less than a year ago, and my running cost is now around 25k, which includes a total cleaning of the engine internals top and bottom (previous owners neglected to change engine oil at the correct intervals), all bushes and parts for the front suspension replaced, camshaft/rocker arms/hydraulic lifters replaced and labor for everything. I was in the same boat when i was attempting to restore my ae92 corolla but ive spent around 40k on it and the end was still far from sight. So yes, God bless for Nissan creating some of the best cars in the 1990s that you can now buy cheaper nowadays. More car for a lesser price.


    3. I have a nissan sentra b13 with SR20de , it was the best car I ever driven..
      I have driven a vios 1.3 altis 1.6e vvti SIR b16a esi d15b swift few SUV, gts non turbo r32 rb20 engine. For me driving the sentra is really fun.

  4. and just to clarify b13 is sentra series 3

  5. I'm planning to buy Nissan series 3. :)