Nissan's Dual Duty: 2013 Sentra, 2014 GT-R
Fuel-efficient line shares the stage with a supercar at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
2013 Nissan Sentra
Nissan arrives at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show with a commitment to both fuel efficiency in its everyday line and ridiculous performance with the GT-R supercar — as well as the bold working experiment that is the DeltaWing racer. These aims would seem incongruous except for Nissan's obvious intensity of focus at both ends of the efficiency spectrum. Continuing its push to introduce five all-new models in the span of 15 months, Nissan brings the all-new Sentra to LA, along with the all-new Altima and Pathfinder. The redesigns focus on weight reduction, fuel economy and aerodynamics. The 2014 GT-R has some interesting tweaks geared toward refining Nissan's halo car while getting the most out of each painstakingly put-together engine.
2013 Nissan Sentra
What is it? The redesigned Sentra shares DNA with the all-new Altima and is aimed squarely at high-volume sellers, especially the Toyota Corolla.
What's hot? Rated at 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway, the 2013 Sentra delivers on Nissan's fuel-economy goals. The new Sentra's styling takes more cues from its Altima sibling than from previous generations, which not only makes the updated Sentra look fresher but promotes design continuity across the overall line. The interior has a clean layout, with quality materials and good fit and finish. The new Sentra is a convenient space to spend some quality commuting time.
What's not? The 2013 Sentra isn't exactly built for the enthusiast. Like its competitors, it is a practical, competent daily driver that offers little in the way of excitement. The 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, suspension and handling can all be deemed satisfactory, if a bit lacking.
How much and when? The 2013 Nissan Sentra starts at $15,990 and is available now.
MSN Autos' verdict: The 2013 Sentra is a serious effort by Nissan to break free of the traditional forces in the econobox market. The Sentra is good, if not inspiring; then again, it doesn't need to be more than what it is. The Sentra's attractive price, comfortable interior and good fuel-economy numbers will bring many eyes to Nissan that normally might look elsewhere. This is a fine car for daily use at a fair price.
2014 Nissan GT-R
What is it? If you're not familiar with the GT-R, we might be justified in asking where you've been during the past decade. Nissan's world-beating supercar has a passionate fan base that lauds its ability along with its price — particularly when compared with builders such as Ferrari and Lamborghini. Others lament its weight, its all-wheel drive and its lack of a proper manual transmission even as an option to the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Love it or hate it, the GT-R is an impressive machine. The 2014 GT-R is more a refresh than anything else, but any change is worth noting.
What's hot? Nissan is offering a new Premium Interior package for the 2014 GT-R, which adds Red Amber leather seating appointments with additional accents throughout. More importantly, there are some interesting tweaks to the parts that make the GT-R go fast and handle: The engine is more responsive at mid- and upper-range rpm levels, the center of gravity has been lowered, and body rigidity has been increased.
What's not? If you're not a fan of the GT-R, the 2014 iteration isn't likely to win you over. A few instrument-panel additions are going to increase the outcry from those who think the GT-R's console is already too complicated. Also, with a length just over 15 feet and a curb weight of nearly 4,000 pounds, the argument that the GT-R is simply too big and too heavy still applies.
How much and when? Nissan has not released the official price of the 2014 GT-R, but we do know it will be available beginning in January.
MSN Autos' verdict: The 2014 Nissan GT-R improves upon one of the most impressive motoring experiences available today at any price. The combination of interior refinement and the trickling down of track-inspired performance modifications suggest it's moving into more rarified air, aiming to deliver world-class appointments along with performance both on the street and the track. As long as the price doesn't jump too high, the 2014 Nissan GT-R should keep its title as the "affordable" supercar.
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.