Monday, June 2, 2014

Used Car Review - Nissan Sentra (2004-2014)

Hunting for a car this school year? Let Myk Belmonte give you one choice to consider.

2004-2014 Nissan Sentra

When it comes to the hunt for the school car, these vehicles are the usual suspects among teeners: Civic, Corolla, Lancer, 3, Elantra, City, Vios, Swift, Jazz, Fiesta, Montero, and Fortuner. During the time when Marvin Agustin and Jolina Magdangal were the KatNiel back then, college students back then were confined to the common Corolla, Civic, Lancer, and Sentra. The latter vehicle is the subject of our review here, especially that this month you'll see your ugly classmates and terror professors which necessitates your own wheels to school and were are giving you a suggestion.

Under the N16 code, the Sentra is sold under the Pulsar, Bluebird Sylphy, and Almera badges through selling life. Much of the description on this paragraph applies in this review.

Although this model runs through the N16 platform, it has been extensively updated including the dropping of the Exalta moniker after its four year usage. What used to be known for its standard sunroof, leather seats, and VCD player was traded for affordability and this one spelled the doom of Nissan in which it sold heavily towards taxi operators. Despite the introduction of the Sentra 200 from Mexico last 2010 and the new Sylphy in 2014, this body style would be still in production albeit in 1.3 guise. Available variants include the 1.3 GX, 1.6 GSX, 1.6 GX, and 1.8 180GT.

Value and Costs
Nissan vehicles aren't known for their stellar resale values, which means picking up a unit will cost you less compared to an established brand of the same vintage. If your parents haven't gave you a graduation gift last March, then this is the perfect car that you can egg them to convince your pops given its low prices. Given its long production run, focus on the vehicle condition especially changes were minimal.

Sentras are reliable vehicles, but it does not mean they are trouble free. Apart from the usual wear and tear, one must check the suspension shocks since it tends to soften up especially if the car is filled to the brim and the MAF sensor inside the QG engines are sensitive to dirt which can decrease performance. Since this car is a taxicab favorite, ex-cabbies are a no-no since their condition is questionable.

Exterior and Interior
Utilizing the same body, more cosmetic changes occurred such as a new grille, headlamps, and tailights that similarly resemble the first generation Teana. Although the changes liven up the otherwise aging model, the efforts are otherwise fine. Before anything else, steel wheels are standard on the 1.3 GX while other models (including the power version of the GX) carry alloys and side skirts come as an option for some units.

Trim levels of this generation of Sentra have varying equipment so lets delve on them one by one. Going to the basic 1.3 GX gives you a CD player (first units have a cassette tuner) while an upgraded model carries all power amenities. The 1.6 GSX will give you an automatic climate control and an overhead console but if you really want airbags and speed sensing door locks, go with a 2007 and earlier unit especially these options were dropped later on. Standard interior amenities for the 1.6 GX are sports jersey seats, alarm system, and keyless entry. The discontinued 180GT has carbon fiber accents (as opposed to the black of the 1.3 models and black and beige motif of the 1.6), and leather seats. The space problem is still there as four can travel in a comfortable fashion.

The three engine options are still from the QG family and shared among numerous Nissan models worldwide. Your first option (and the most common) is the QG13DE 1,295cc with 95hp at 6,000rpm and 125Nm at 4,400rpm. The second engine that you might encounter is the QG16DE 1,597cc carrying 116hp at 6,000rpm and 149Nm at 4,400rpm and the rare one is the QG18DE 1,769cc having 128hp at 6,000rpm and 176Nm at 4,400rpm. We shall give the rundown on each of the engines here: the 1.3 is decent enough but whines when driven hard (avoid the automatic unless you need it), the 1.6 is balanced but you need to push harder, while the 1.8 has a relaxed personality. So we suggest you to choose wisely based on your requirements.

Driving Impressions
Still the same comment from its Exalta predecessor, the Sentra is at home when driving at long distances. Handling isn't still the best especially it tends to be light but it has the advantage when it comes to maneuvering, thanks to a tight steering radius.

School time is fun, but can be frustrating as well; so does the need for you school car. Going to the second hand route gives you lots of options and one that you can pitch in is the Sentra, despite the fact your schoolmates will call you the dakilang taxi driver. But hey, who cares since you have a car and they don't. Happy shopping.

The Good:
  • Cheap to buy
  • Cheap to own
  • Roomy cabin
The Bad:
  • Underpowered 1.3 engine
  • Lacks airbags on lower variants
  • Hard plastic galore
The Pick: 1.6 GSX

Engines: 1,295cc QG13DE, 1,597cc QG16DE, and 1,769cc QG18DE I4 gasoline
Power: 95hp @ 6,000rpm (1.3), 116hp @ 6,000rpm (1.6), 128hp @ 6,000rpm (1.8)
Torque: 125Nm @ 4,400rpm (1.3), 149Nm @ 4,400rpm (1.6), 176Nm @ 4,400rpm (1.8)
Fuel Consumption: 7-10km/L (city), 8-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear rigid axle with torsion beam

Price (New): P550,000-P888,000
Price (Now): P190,000-P450,000
Rivals: Chevrolet Optra, Ford Lynx, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Corolla Altis
On Sale: 2004-2014

Nissan Mantrade - (02) 812-6789
Nissan Gallery Ortigas - (02) 635-5888
Nissan Gallery Quezon Avenue - (02) 731-5808

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