1996 Nissan 200SX SE-R 2.0 from North America

Summary:

Underdog of the sport compact world of the mid 90's

Faults:

Bought it in bad mechanical repair with 220k miles on it.

+ Valve cover gasket needed replacing (every mid 90's car needs this anyway).

+ Needed both axles (from previous driver warping the rims).

+ Brakes on all 4 corners needed (but was incredibly cheap for rotors + pads).

+ Spark plugs, fluids, basic maintenance.

+ All 4 motor mounts worn out (again, just a standard 14 year old car problem).

+ MAF sensor required cleaning; engine cut power at peak RPMs (4000-6000rpm) - fixed the problem.

+ Knock sensor was gone, so replaced that.

General Comments:

At such a high mileage, the transmission is in amazing shape. No problem getting into 1st gear or grinding any other gears.

185psi on the motor across all 4 cylinders. Amazing.

No rust problems, interior has held up too.

Pros:

+ SR20DE motor is fantastic, has good torque for its size, generally known as bulletproof, and returns good MPG (I average 30mpg with a light foot) for the amount of power the car has.

+ Comfortable for 4 people; amazed at how much room there is in the rear.

+ Pretty easy to work on.

+ Good rear visibility.

+ Transmission/clutch has a good feel.

+ Stock brakes and handling are a bit above adequate, so it may not be a BMW, but it's also not lacking as a commuter.

+ Stock motor is very responsive to bolt on power from what I've heard.

+ Pleasurable to drive in the city, as the low-end torque is more than adequate.

+ Turbo and high output VVT JDM engines swap into this car with relative ease.

Cons:

+ 'Bag it and tag it' looks.

+ Understeer caused by factory rear toe setting; requires extreme custom work to correct if you are interested in souping the car up; so stick to the older Sentra b14 chassis or something else if you're looking for a car with handling potential.

+ Lack of aftermarket products, because this car was not very popular.

+ Gearing is quite long. It means you get better fuel economy, but the car is not rev happy like a Honda.

This is certainly a function over form car, like many older Nissans. The upside is that it is not a theft target, and more of a sleeper!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 19th August, 2010

19th Aug 2010, 15:26

My valve cover gasket and motor mounts are just fine on my Toyota Corolla. The motor mounts are in good shape, and there are no oil leaks around the valve cover (or anywhere for that matter). My Corolla is also a 1996 (making it 14 years old as well), and it has nearly 200,000 miles on it. It even still has the original timing belt!

1996 Nissan 200SX SE-R SR20 from North America

Summary:

Fine budget car, but look at the Infiniti G20

Faults:

Car started leaking oil after switching to synthetic.

Alternator died (happens to all cars at some point).

Started getting a lot of noise in the engine.

General Comments:

Pretty fun car, really peppy and nice handling. The problem is that for every good point I can make about this car, there is this part of me that thinks they could have done a lot better if they had tried just a little bit. Case in point, the SR20 is a GREAT engine. A lot of fun, but they needed to fit it with an LSD like the Infinity G20's using the same engine have. You get a ton of wheel spin otherwise.

Mechanically the car was reliable and quick, but again lacked the polish that it really needed. The transmission the whole time I had it felt really quick engaging. It lacked finesse. As I mentioned above, this car really needs an LSD to give traction to the tires that need it. It was really reliable, and again a fun quick car.

As for the interior, for the most part it was really nice. Road noise was above average, but not bad though the speakers were terrible which made long highway trips kind of annoying. The dash was laid out really well, only a few places where it could have improved looks wise. Seats are comfortable for the most part and everything feels and works nice. It's obviously a less expensive car, but the interior is much better than most cars of its era.

Bottom line, buy an Infiniti G20. It's this car, but with all the little details fixed up and 4 doors.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 19th June, 2009

2nd Dec 2010, 08:54

The SE-R has a Helical LSD; it just can't compensate for torque steer.