Monday, April 29, 2013

Used Car Review - Nissan Sentra (1991-1999)

Before transitioning to a new month in a few days, Myk Belmonte reviews this popular budget car that merits a spot on your shopping list.

1991-1999 Nissan Sentra

In the 90s, the sub-compact wars are between four Japanese sedans: the Toyota Corolla, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra, and the Honda Civic. In 1991, the Corolla (called as the SKD due to the fact only the wheels and stereo system are installed here) was hot stuff, the Lancer provided an alternative for the circled T, the Civic was the new kid on the block, and the Sentra (known as the Series II) was introduced. Let's deal first with the international perspective first.

Internationally, the B13 Sentra is also sold as the Sunny and the Tsuru (Mexico sells this stuff until now) from 1991 until the late 90s. If you reside in the United States before, you can have an option of two or four doors and a sporty SE-R trim, which is equipped with a SR20DE power plant. Shame we didn't have this variant as this could be a hit among Filipino buyers back then when brought in.

Going back to the Philippines, it was launched new in 1991 and remained in Nissan's line-up until 1999. Why? It was the cheapest brand new Nissan and supplemented the B14 (or Series III) Sentra and targeted fleet buyers, which was to say taxi drivers had a new cab to drive from their phased out Geminis. Ok, the 1.4 and 1.6 models went away in 1995 and variants that one can choose include the JX, LEC, LEC-PS (power steering), EX Saloon, Super Saloon, and SE Saloon.

Value and Costs
This car is not overpriced, period. As age dictates, it must be hovering in the five digit price range; and thus, it is. Between P35,000-P90,000, this is a great car that can be had for cash strapped buyers. There is a mix of models of varying conditions, so have a keen eye for well loved units.

Just like the Corolla and Lancer of the same era, maintaining one does not cost an arm and a leg. The carburetor isn't high profile to keep, but remember the fuel efficiency difference of the GA13 and GA14 carb to the GA16 with EFI. The ones you'll need to keep an eye are the wear and tear items such as brake pads, spark plugs, and the timing chain. Sentras used as former taxi cabs are best avoided, they are raped and abused through the years.

Exterior and Interior
Having a release date of 1991, some boxy angles are evident, especially that it is an evolution from the Series II that it replaced. However, there are some soft curves to complement it so that it won't be left out of place during that time.

Basic is the word to describe the Sentra's dashboard. The driver would not be distracted since the controls are within reach and no need to fuss over for the wrong button. Also a strong point is the legibly encrypted speedometer, which is a plus for a first time driver. Occupants get a decent amount of space but the rear can exhibit a somewhat lack of legroom for some.

Three engine configurations are available for the consumer, and the first one standard among LEC models is a GA13DS 1,295cc that belches out 79hp at 6,000rpm and 104Nm at 3,600rpm. The next one that is seen under the hoods of JX and EX Saloon Sentras is a GA14DS 1,392cc with 75hp at 6,000rpm and 112Nm at 4,000rpm. The icing of the cake common among Super Saloon and SE Saloon variants is a GA16DE 1,597cc which has 115hp at 6,000rpm and 146Nm at 4,000rpm. The B13 Sentra is best enjoyed with a stick since the optional automatic has a tendency to grab power that results to an overworked engine. Engine and road noise is evident.

Driving Impressions
In a straight path, the Sentra revs excellently and acceleration is peppy, even in the lower end models. Braking can be wanting for the non Super Saloon and SE models, due to the fact they lack ABS Brakes but then there is a reason why they are priced cheaply. Road imperfections are absorbed but road noise is a fact of life for a Sentra driver or passenger. Plan to take on autocross competitions, this is a model to consider.

A great car for those who are in a tight budget. But due to age, we feel that compacts of the mid-Ramos to Estrada era would serve consumers better due to less worries. Ex-taxis can also be a bitch to maintain, so finding a stock unit can be a challenge.

The Good:
  • Feature loaded Super Saloon variant
  • Cheap to buy
  • Cheap to maintain
The Bad:
  • Good luck when the power amenities and ABS module in the Super Saloon fails
  • Good luck when the carburetor engine is not maintained
  • Noisy
The Pick: Super Saloon MT

Engines: 1,295cc GA13DS carburetor, 1,392cc GA14DS carburetor, and 1,597cc GA16DE I4 gasoline
Power: 79hp @ 6,000rpm (1.3), 75hp @ 6,000rpm (1.4), 115hp @ 6,000rpm (1.6)
Torque: 104Nm @ 3,600rpm (1.3), 112Nm @ 4,000rpm (1.4), 146Nm @ 4,000rpm
Fuel Consumption: 8-12km/L (city), 10-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: No data available

Price (New): P220,000-P480,000 (range from 1991-1994, estimated)
Price (Now): P35,000-P90,000
Rivals: Toyota Corolla, Mitsubishi Lancer, Honda Civic, Mazda 323
On Sale: 1991-1994 (all variants), 1991-1999 (1.3 LEC)

Nis-Parts Center - (02) 742-1531

Photos courtesy of

1 comment:

  1. not all ex-TAXI'S ARE ABUSED and RAPED. some ex taxi's are driven by owner and taken cared.. some are abused.. even private owned car.. if the owner are abusived and not taken care their car..not maintained very well is not good.. thank you