With the introduction of the all-new Sentra SE-R and Sentra SE-R Spec V in March 2007, Nissan returned to an arena it helped establish more than 15 years before: the affordable, high performance “sport compact” car. With a high performance 4-cylinder engine stuffed into a compact body, the original SE-R offered sports car-like performance for buyers on a budget. It’s a formula that still has merit today – perhaps even more as leading compact sedans like Sentra grow in size, platform sophistication, comfort, amenities, innovation and quality.
The latest duo of Nissan Sentra SE-R models, which carry over into the 2008 model year virtually intact, offer more power, more performance and more technology than any SE-R that has gone before – including a power-to-price ratio of 200 horsepower for around $20,000.
Both the 2008 SE-R and SE-R Spec V are powered by Nissan’s advanced 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine (QR25DE) and are equipped with a range of unique (versus non-SE-R Sentra models) performance-oriented equipment and features, including standard 17-inch wheels and tires, 4-wheel disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and specially tuned electric power steering (EPS) – as well as unique exterior and interior appearance modifications.
“The SE-R takes full advantage of the latest generation Sentra design, adding a level of power and performance that is usually available only through aftermarket modifications,” said Ian Forsyth, director, product planning, Nissan Canada Inc.
Sentra SE-R Spec V: A High-Output Performance Designed Engine
Development of the SE-R engine was guided by Motohiro Matsumura, Chief Vehicle Engineer, who previously led the development of Nissan’s highly acclaimed VQ-series V6 engines.
Special emphasis was placed on the Sentra SE-R Spec V-specific high output version of the QR25DE 4-cylinder engine, which features extensive modifications to the top end of the engine. Among the Spec V engine features are use of a unique resin intake manifold and dual branch exhaust manifold; revised piston crown shape to support its 10.5:1 compression; iridium tipped spark plugs for improved combustion characteristics; and a revised cam shaft profile, reinforced connecting rods and 8-counterweight crankshaft to achieve a higher redline limit of 7,000 rpm.
With these modifications, the engine achieves 200 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 180 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm (when using premium unleaded fuel). Helping to put all this power to the ground is an optional Helical Limited-Slip Differential (available with Spec V only). The Spec V model is available only with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission and features unique suspension tuning, brakes, tires and body structure changes (versus the base SE-R).
In the area of chassis, handling and braking performance, the SE-R Spec V is equipped with higher rate springs, shocks and bushings than the non-Spec V SE-R; 225/45WR17 uni-directional high performance tires; high capacity front disc brakes with 12.6-inch rotors; and a revised cowl top structure and a unique trunk mounted “V” brace, both utilized for increased body rigidity.
SE-R Spec V chassis performance and vehicle dynamics tests were conducted on the grueling Nurburgring Nordschleife closed circuit outside of Cologne, Germany. Behind the wheel of the SE-R Spec V on the Nordschleife circuit was Nissan’s chief development driver, Yukio Kamiyama, the man responsible for Nissan’s legendary Skyline R32 and R33 models.
Sentra SE-R: Smoothness Plus Paddle Shifters
The 2008 Sentra SE-R model (non-Spec V) offers fun-to-drive performance and aggressive, sporty appearance to those who want the convenience of an automatic transmission. The Sentra SE-R, equipped exclusively with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT™ (Continuously Variable Transmission), is a unique offering in the sport compact market.
Enhancing the driving experience of the SE-R model are steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Designed to be fun and engaging, the paddle shifters allow for quick and responsive up shifts and down shifts while driving on mountain roads or just negotiating through daily traffic.
“As we’ve shown with the Xtronic CVT™-equipped Altima and Maxima, CVTs are not just for smoothness – they can also be tuned for performance,” said Forsyth.
Responsive engine performance in the SE-R is delivered by the QR25DE engine, which is tuned for 177 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 172 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 rpm (on regular unleaded fuel).
Sentra SE-R’s independent strut front / torsion beam rear suspension design, shared with the standard 2008 Sentra, has been tuned for sporty handling, while not being overly firm during everyday use.
Stopping power for the SE-R is provided by 4-wheel disc brakes with 11.7-inch front and 11.5-inch rear rotors. Contact with the road is handled through 225/45VR17 all-season performance tires.
Sentra SE-R: Smoothness Plus Paddle Shifters
Unique SE-R exterior treatments include aggressive front and rear fascias, side sill extensions, rear spoiler and SE-R badging.
Inside Sentra SE-R’s cabin are a number of unique SE-R features, including an exclusive black interior colour, sport bucket front seats with SE-R stitching, unique seat fabrics, red seat belts (Spec V only), aluminum foot pedal pads, leather-appointed steering wheel (with red stitching on Spec V) and shift knob, and an additional two-gauge meter pack. These two additional gauges, canted towards the driver, provide information on oil pressure and acceleration/deceleration g-force.
Like all 2008 Sentra models, the new SE-R also offers an array of comfort and convenience features including standard power windows and door locks, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD 6-speaker audio, and an integrated overhead compact disc holder. Optional features include a 340-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, factory installed satellite radio and Nissan’s Intelligent Key keyless entry system (SE-R only).
Standard safety features for the Sentra SE-R include an Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual stage front air bags and occupant classification system for the front passenger seat, front seat side air bags, side curtain air bags (for front and rear outboard occupant head protection), front seat Active Head Restraints and Zone Body construction.
“Sentra SE-R and Sentra SE-R Spec V have much to offer even the most demanding enthusiasts,” said Forsyth. “They are thrills to drive, right out of the box – at a value that just can’t be beat.”