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Nissan designers still ‘DIG’ the Sentra, creating the Sentra NISMO concept

Before Nissan brought the GT-R to the States and it reinvigorated the Z cars, Nissan’s American sporting heritage was carried by cars like the Sentra SE-R and Sentra SE-R Spec V.

While these monikers made for lumpy-looking trunk-mounted nameplates, the cars they were fastened to were brilliant little economy sports machines. With compact bodies, basic but roomy interiors, crisp-shifting manual transmissions, and plucky four-cylinder engines, the sporty Sentras were widely adored – and it’s easy to understand why.

Keen to recapture that sporting heritage and compact passion, Nissan’s performance arm NISMO has cooked up a Sentra NISMO concept. Although my knee-jerk reaction to the concept was skepticism, its Bright Peal White paintjob and wide, 19-inch RAYS aluminum-alloy wheels have changed my mind.

I then, to my delight, discovered the Sentra NISMO’s low-hanging body kit with a larger front spoiler, widened fender flares, and side skirts, deep-skirted rear fascia, and large dual exhaust tips.

The exterior aesthetics, though, isn’t the meat of the Sentra NISMO Concept, though. I’d wager it’s the bit underneath that will truly excite.

The normal Sentra makes 130 horsepower from its normally aspirated 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder. The Sentra NISMO, however, utilizes a 16-valve, turbocharged, intercooled, sequential Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) equipped four-cylinder borrowed from the Juke NISMO RS, enlarged to 1.8 liters that produces more than 240 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque.

Once I read those specs, I said to myself, “Yeah, well, it probably doesn’t have a limited-slip differential.” I had spoken too soon. Nissan went on to brag that through the beefy six-speed manual, power is in fact sent to the front wheels through a limited-slip differential.

For those of you who don’t know, in normal front-wheel drive cars, power is sent to the wheel with the least resistance. Essentially, this makes the car one-wheel drive. With a limited-slip in a front-drive car, power is routed to both wheels, which improves traction and acceleration.

While Nissan didn’t speculate on acceleration times, it did ensure that the Sentra NISMO’s go would be adequately matched by its stopping capabilities. The men and NISMO bolted up some red painted Brembo brake calipers borrowed from the 370Z. I’d say they succeeded in their halting mission.

On the interior the subdued, sporty motif is continued. Nissan bolted up some Recaro “Sportster” front seats and then covered nearly ever surface in Alcantara, including the rear seats and the steering wheel.

Of course, Nissan has no plan to build this wondrous compact sports sedan. But perhaps if you comment enough on this story, Nissan will listen and sent it to showrooms.

Let’s go ahead and try, shall we?

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Nick Jaynes
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nick Jaynes is the Automotive Editor for Digital Trends. He developed a passion for writing about cars working his way…
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