Over the years, Nissan has delivered some of the sportiest, most fun-to-drive four-door sedans available. Nissan has proven its ability to create exhilarating, driver-focused machines that don’t exclude rear-seat passengers. The 2012 Nissan Sentra SE-R upholds this longstanding tradition, and offers buyers a generous list of factory-equipped performance accessories, eliminating the need for expensive aftermarket parts.
In addition to the list of common standard features, every Sentra SE-R (MSRP $20,120) features performance accessories like unique SE-R exterior badging, front and rear fascias, aerodynamic side sill extensions, sport grille, rear spoiler with LED brakelights, foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, special black interior with sport bucket seats and SE-R embroidery, two additional instrument gauges (oil pressure and g-meter), leather-trimmed steering wheel, aluminum pedals and a six-speaker, 160-watt stereo with CD, auxiliary jack and USB input all powered through a 4.3-inch color display.
Available options include an eight-speaker, 340-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with XM Satellite Radio, Nissan Intelligent Key keyless entry system, RearView Monitor, power moonroof and Nissan Navigation system.
Under the hood, the SE-R packs a 16-valve, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that powers the front wheels with 177 hp and 172 lb/ft of torque. Instead of the traditional manual or automatic transmission, the SE-R boasts a specially engineered Nissan Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters.
This transmission is a completely unique offering in the sport compact sedan segment, enabling the SE-R to achieve quick, seamless shifts while maximizing the power and fuel efficiency of the energetic 2.5-liter engine. Instead of gears, the Xtronic CVT uses a steel belt and pulley system to move continuously through different gear ratios without actually “shifting.” This eliminates gear hunting and shift-shock; the kick and loss of power you sometimes feel from traditional automatic transmissions.
The Xtronic CVT also has fewer moving parts to reduce friction and heat, adding up to a lighter-weight transmission that’s more durable than a traditional automatic. And perhaps one of the greatest attributes of the Xtronic CVT is its positive effect on fuel economy. Around town, the SE-R with the Xtronic CVT returns an impressive 24 mpg while freeway jaunts can be as high as 30 mpg.
Although it’s considered a “sport compact,” once you step inside the Sentra SE-R, you’ll realize there’s nothing compact about the interior. Generous amounts of head- and legroom welcome both front- and rear-seat passengers, and the space continues all the way back to the trunk, which can swallow up 13.1 cubic feet of cargo.
The Sentra SE-R displays its athleticism when the road begins to wind. A four-wheel independent suspension with sport tuned springs, a torsion bar in the rear and beefy front and rear stabilizer bars help keep the SE-R planted, and the electric steering system gives the driver light and nimble control of the directional duties.
Standard safety features include four-wheel disc brakes with Antilock Braking System and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and Traction Control System.
Every Sentra SE-R also comes with Nissan Advanced Air Bag System featuring dual-stage front airbags, front-side airbags and roof-mounted curtain bags. All of these features helped the Sentra SE-R return a top Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test ranking of “Good” for frontal-offset tests.
So, if you’re looking for a high-performance car that still offers the fuel efficiency of a smaller sedan, stop in today for a test drive of the 2012 Nissan Sentra SE-R. Once behind the wheel, it will be hard to hide that smile.