2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo puts some sport into your compact

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo

The roomy, fuel-efficient Sentra just got better with a turbocharged sport-centric edition called the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo. It’s fun, low-cost, and still a good daily driver, but there are downsides to it.

The manufacturer says

When it came time to breathe greater performance into the Sentra® SR Turbo, our engineers pulled out all the stops. Spray-coated and mirror-finished cylinder bores were applied to the 1.6-L DIG turbocharged engine, while a low-pressure cooled EGR system was added for greater efficiency at higher loads. The result? Engine friction and weight were reduced, while performance increased.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Nissan
  • Year, Model: 2017 Sentra SR Turbo
  • Class, Type: Compact sedan
  • Propulsion system: 1.6L turbo, 6spd manual
  • Base Price: $21,990
  • MSRP as tested: $23,055
  • Availability: Now

Overview

The Nissan Sentra is already a good car on its own. Yet a chief complaint is that it lacks a certain fun factor that some compact buyers really want out of their small cars. They’ve usually turned to cars other than the Sentra to get this. Now Nissan is offering this Turbo model to make those buyers happy and keep them on the Nissan lot. It will probably work.

The 2017 Sentra SR Turbo is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that’s turbocharged to produce 188 horsepower and 177 foot pounds of torque. This runs through a six-speed manual transmission (as we drove it) or a sport-calibrated continuously variable transmission (CVT). We’d recommend the manual trans for fun and the CVT for convenience and maximized MPG.

Fuel economy si rated at 28 mpg combined, with 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway in the manual. The CVT bumps that to 29 mpg combined, 27 city and 33 highway. In the real world, we saw numbers a bit lower than this, closer to 24 mpg overall with the manual transmission. The manual was a lot of fun to drive, though not perfect.

The Nissan Sentra SR Turbo isn’t as quick as we’d hoped, speeding to 60 mpg from zero in about 8.5 seconds. That’s pretty fast for the segment, but only just about on par with rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Focus. That said, the Turbo model for the Sentra is a fun little goer with good suspension and steering to match the engine’s higher output.

The real disappointment with the Sentra Turbo, however, is not with the speed or fuel efficiency. It’s that this sport-centric model is only just on par with other models that aren’t labeled “sporty” or with special upgrade costs. The Ford comes to mind, but so does the Toyota Corolla iA and the Mazda3.

A real upside to the Nissan Sentra Turbo, however, is its low cost of entry. Our well-equipped $23k sedan didn’t have much over the base model other than delivery charges and yet it was done nicely enough that we’d take it as-is without much complaint. The SR model has 17-inch alloy wheels, added sport body kit items, a rear spoiler, LED headlights for the low beams, heated mirrors, fog lamps, a sport-tuned suspension, and a sunroof. Among other things. The 5-inch driver information and 5-inch infotainment screen are also nice in a car this size and for this price and include Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera.

What we like

Fun to drive with plenty of panache.

What we don't

The Turbo model is definitely fast, but not as punchy as we’d hoped.

Conclusions

The 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo is a great little car at a great price. There are rivals that are a bit better on some fronts, all of them as sporty or sportier, but none that can match both the price and the fun that the Sentra Turbo offers. It’s nicely packed at a reasonable entry-level price. Nissan knows where it’s at.

This site follows the emergence, application and development of transportation innovation. Reference to manufacturers, makes and models, and other automotive-related businesses are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by FutureCars.com.