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2009 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V Review

At a recent Nissan 360 Event in Portugal, motoring writers from around the world were given the chance to try all of Nissan's global product range, and that was good in some regards. Getting a chance to try cars such as the Cube and the GT-R was rather rewarding. But when we noticed that there was a 200hp Nissan Sentra Spec V parked in the corner, we were intrigued. However, what followed was simply awful.

Not a bad-looking car, the Sentra is America's equivalent of the Tiida and it is certainly a more handsome car than the Tiida, and, in this spec, with the body kit and large alloy wheels. The engine spec looks good too, with a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder putting out 200hp but not that much torque for the size of the engine. At 244Nm, it is not much more than Alfa Romeo can get out of a 1.4-litre turbo.

The engine sounds pretty coarse when you start it up and the initial notchiness of the gearbox makes you think that it might be down to it being a new car. However, a few yards out the road, you realise that it is just a crappy gearbox. It sounds like you are grinding stones with a pestle and mortar.

When you think that this car is comparable to a VW Golf GTi, it is laughable. The steering is appalling and the chassis feels like it was very loosely stapled to the body. Pushing the car hard through a series of roundabouts, I began to wonder whether the car was built by some drunken students on the way home from the pub. I have driven better shopping trolleys! I was so alarmed that I cut my drive short and went straight back to base, shaken and pretty sure that this was one of the worst cars I had ever driven.

All of which made me very glad we don't live in America. Apart from having people walking around with guns, a madman as President and food that tries to kill you, its efforts at fast compact cars are lamentable. God bless Europe, I say.



Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V

Engine                    2,499cc 4-cyl

Output                    200hp, 244Nm

Transmission            6-sp manual

Acceleration             0-100km/h 6.7 seconds

Top Speed               195 km/h

Economy                 9.4 litres/100km

CO2 Emissions          N/A

CO2 Tax Band          N/A

Weight                    1,394kg

Boot Capacity           340 litres

Base Price               Under $21,000 (not available in Ireland, thankfully)

For                        Not a bad looking car

Against                   Terrible gearbox, handling, ride

Rating: 2/10


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