Monday, August 6, 2012

Used Car Review - Nissan Sentra Exalta (2000-2001)

Filipinos deserve nothing but the best after a long tiring day. But, do remember that it must be on a budget. And Myk Belmonte scouts around the used car land for bargains that can be had for less. So, you can now tell your friends that your car has luxury items for less cash without joining Showtime or Eat Bulaga.

2000-2001 Nissan Sentra Exalta

If you mention the word "luxury", lavishness and tons of money come to mind. Not all people can afford a BMW, Benz, or a Bentley (drool more) - especially in the financial and maintenance sense. Other manufacturers such as Toyota, Ford, and Volkswagen (sister brands of Lexus, Lincoln, and Audi respectively) lend their mass market vehicles and put glamorous features (such as excessive chrome, leather all around, and tons of gadgets).

Yulon Motor of Taiwan purchased 75% ownership of Nissan's newly-built assembly plant located in Santa Rosa, Laguna. Did you know that Yulon had a relationship with Nissan since 1967? Yes, they produce Nissan vehicles under license and also assembles Chrysler, Geely, GM, Mercedes Benz and Mitsubishi. Apart from vehicle assembly, the company engages in vehicle importation. They bring in Infiniti, Nissan, and Renault vehicles to Taiwan.

The Yulon acquisition had the Nissan Sentra Exalta introduced to the Philippine market in the year 2000. It was billed as the direct (and only competitor during that time) rival of the Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8. It utilized the GA16NE engine (the Sentra Super Saloon uses a different type from the GA engine family) and saw the usage of chrome and leather. This model paved way for the usage of the Exalta badge for the N13 Sentra from 2001-2003, it reverted back to simply Sentra in 2004. Variants include the simpler SLA and the fully loaded STA.

Value and Costs
The price of luxury can be had for less than a million bucks when brand new. 10 years later or so, affordable luxury can be attained for P210,000-P260,000. Nissans (in general) do have poor resale values, so these are bargains for used car buyers. You'll also encounter N13 Sentras of later age in that price range, so have a keen eye if its an original Sentra Exalta B14 you'd seek.

Electronic gadgets are a dream for one's car, but their breakdowns can cause headaches. If you're inspecting a unit, pay particular attention to these gadgets (especially in the STA variant) if they function well. The idle air control valve, mass airflow sensor, the alternator, and battery should be checked thoroughly since the gadgets put extra load for the MAF sensor and the air control valve. The rear suspension is soft due to the comfort biased nature and must be checked for weird noises that warrants a replacement. Leather is nice until they have scratches and stains. Spare some money for repairs and you'll be rewarded with a worry free journey. On the flipside, mechanical parts (most of them) are similar to other Sentra B14's.

Exterior and Interior
Not much is to be said with the exterior, since it uses the body of the B14 Sentra where it was based on. Color coded handles are standard - as opposed to the blacked ones in the lowly trim lines. The STA does have the sunroof as standard equipment. You may dismiss this variant as luxurious or tacky looking.

If there's one thing to discuss about the Sentra Exalta B14, it would the interior. Occupants receive a roomy interior but the rear is tight for six footers. Both variants receive wood accents, rear backup sensors, and sapphire starlight gauges. The SLA does have a manual transmission, and basic power amenities; the STA is paired with an automatic transmission and a laundry list of features - which includes the availability of a sunroof, 12 disc CD changer, retractable window shades, leather seating, retractable mirrors, automatic climate control, hands free system (for older Nokia phones), and a four disc braking system.

If Sentra Super Saloons use a GA16DNE engine mentioned on my Sentra B14 article, the Exalta utilizes a GA16DE 1,596cc for both SLA and STA variants. The carry 110hp at 6,000rpm and 140Nm @ 4,000rpm, almost similar to the other GA engine found on local Sentras. If the SS has the potential to speed up, the Exalta can be described as slower once you get behind the wheel. Why slow? This is because of the added heft caused by the electronic gadgets and the comfort bias rear suspension.

Driving Impressions
If you're the type who longs for the freeway or long drives, the Exalta is the perfect match. Your passengers would feel in comfort since the suspension is tuned for them, and the combo for the leather is nice. But, handling is not as agile as the EK Civic and due to the comfort priority, expect numb handling. Better avoid zigzag roads and tight curves if you want to fully utilize this car's potential as an alternative to expensive luxo sedans.

Different people have different definitions of the word luxury. The Sentra Exalta (in B14 platform) is one wonder during its time for offering luxury features at mass market prices. Just remember that luxury items (such as gadgets) are nice to have, but break them and it would mean catastrophe. If you're not a badge snob and adventurous at a same time, why not consider the Sentra Exalta B14?

The Good:
  • Luxury items for less cash
  • Plush ride
  • Posh looks
The Bad:
  • Poor handling
  • Definitely not sporty
  • Good luck if these decade old gadgets fail
The Pick: Since two variants are available, go for a well maintained unit 

Engine: 1,596cc GA16DE I4 gasoline
Power: 110hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 140Nm @ 4,000rpm
Fuel Consumption: 6-9km/L (city); 9-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear rigid axle multilink beam

Price (New): P620,000-P680,000 (estimated)
Price (Now): P210,000-P250,000
Rivals: Toyota Corolla Altis (1999-2001)
On Sale: 2000-2001

Nissan Mantrade - 812-6879
Nissan Gallery Ortigas - 635-5888
Nissan Gallery Quezon Avenue - 731-5308

Photos courtesy of

1 comment:

  1. Buying a used car doesn't have to be risky. If you know what you want then it becomes a lot easier.