1992 Nissan Sentra XE 1.6 from North America
My automobile soul mate
- Replaced alternator.
- Replaced axles twice.
- Replaced original struts and springs.
General: An intentional reincarnation of the Datsun 510, it is a reliable, tough, low-maintenance little car that is eager to please and will never complain, though it may get sick if you neglect simple maintenance. It is a good car to teach someone the benefits of responsibility, how to take care of a car that will return the favor. Also a good car for learning mechanical work or how to modify an engine. Perhaps the best role it serves is being a car that will not leave you stranded if you are someone who needs to be reliably mobile.
Performance: Although the 1.6 is beginning to become dated compared to late model cars, it still possesses an excellent torque curve and smooth operation. Simple bolt-on modifications (header, intake, etc.) really liven the spirit of this car and go far to bring the performance up to par with current models, as the engine was sort of "dialed-down" from the factory. For the daily commuter, the stock performance is adequate to keep up with traffic and pass cars with effort, but perhaps a little overshadowed by its reliability and handling. For the extreme tuner, the engine responds well to forced induction and there are a few engines available to swap. With a few strategic mods, the 1.6 can match the performance of its sleeper counterpart (SER), up to a certain point.
Handling: Nimble and light on its feet, it out-handles the average late model car, surpassed only by vehicles that were designed with an emphasis on handling. Like the Fairlady Z, it was designed to allow the driver to express their personality and form a connection with the road, "like rider and horse" as Yutaka Katayama has said, whose influence trickled down all the way through the 510 and into this car, but no further. Sharing the platform and basic layout of the NX2000 and Sentra SER, the NX2000 being in Car and Driver's contest of the world's best handling cars among the Porsche 911 turbo and Lotus Elan, the borderline sporty handling is evident. What's more, all the components of its sportier siblings are interchangeable, providing spirited upgrades. Additionally, aftermarket upgrades are available and this platform is used in many various types of racing. It feels at home on curvy back roads. It is able to drive on solid ice with all-season tires at slow speeds (never exceeding second gear). With studded tires or true snow tires, you won't even notice the ice even at highway speeds, but of course you should drive with extra care in extreme conditions.
Interior: Perhaps a universal consensus is that the interior is the worst aspect of this car. It isn't necessarily designed for large people, and the rear seat might be considered as only being for children. As for material, it will show wear long before any other area, with buttons and levers breaking, seats tearing, and panels and trim hardening and cracking. Don't expect the factory speakers to work at this age. If the interior has redeeming quality, it is that parts are interchangeable among the platform and even from other platforms, with common options being seats from an NX or Infiniti G20 (leather), dashes from any other B13 car, or just about any other component. The NX seats give you seemingly much more cabin space because they sit lower on the rails.
Exterior: The understated styling has a way of growing on you, being bland and mundane at first, but becoming "clean" and even classy over time. It was after all supposed to be the Datsun 510 reborn, even inheriting the "Supersonic Line" that runs along the side just under the handles. The metal is fairly strong and attached securely yet easily removable, but it has no more than average dent resistance. These cars are supposed to be prone to rusting even though mine doesn't have a single spot, so it is advisable to wash thoroughly after exposure to salt, and inspect the rockers, fenders, and strut towers if you are planning to buy one. The paint seems to be hit and miss, as some Sentras have panels with peeling clear coat, and some look like new. If the clear coat holds, the paint ages very well, requiring only a good buffing to bring back the shine. For those who require a fresh style, brand new updated components are available from the Nissan Tsuru from the Mexican market, the B13 Sentra still in production all these years later, having gone through many facelifts.
Maintenance: Routine maintenance includes oil/filter change, air filter, PCV, fuel filter, and spark plugs. Long term maintenance includes new axles about every 100k miles ($70 each), transmission flush/filter, distributor cap, struts/springs, and fuel injectors. In depth maintenance (either very long term or just to be thorough) includes valve clearance adjustment (shims), timing adjustment, clean IACV, clean MAF, clean TB, recalibrate TPS, fuel pump, and generally tightening cables and replacing hoses and clamps. After a thorough maintenance regimen, the car should run better than ever if everything is up to date.
Summary: Its reliability, potential performance, and inherent handling, combined with the curvy roads of my region of residence have led me to conclude that I have stuck with this car for a reason... like sand settling at the bottom of a stream, my preferences perfectly match what this car offers, allowing me to express my personality through the experience of driving it. It is my automobile soul mate.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 7th November, 2015
8th Nov 2015, 14:41
It's hard to see how a FWD econobox could be an "intentional reincarnation" of the iconic Datsun 510.
Nissan did revive the 510 name, briefly, for a series of RWD sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks sold from 1978-81. Predecessor to the Stanza, they now seem to be harder to find than the original 510!