2007 Nissan Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V

2007 Nissan Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V 2007 Nissan Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V
First Drive Review

We're going to come right out and say it: The new Nissan Sentra SE-R does not recall the glory days of the original 1991-94 SE-R. Actually, it's unlikely that any new Sentra SE-R will top the adulation for the initial version, given the positive aura that years of nostalgia have bestowed on it. The first SE-R is a lot like your first kiss or your first batch of pancakes, both of which were probably sloppy and not as delicious as you now fondly remember. Since the first generation, the subsequent two generations were met with indifference and disappointment. So maybe the new, fourth-generation SE-R can't top the original, but it's vastly better than the previous model, at least when it comes to driving dynamics. As before, the hot Sentra comes in two versions: SE-R and SE-R Spec V (next page). The SE-R comes only with a CVT, and the higher-output Spec V engine is mated to a six-speed manual.

Exterior and Interior

We're still getting used to the upright looks of the Sentra, which shares a platform with the Renault Mégane. The SE-R makes an effort to correct the awkward proportions with 17-inch wheels, aggressive front and rear fascias, and a rear spoiler. The effect is a subtle improvement, but it will never, ever be called pretty.

On the inside, the SE-R has an oil-pressure gauge and a g-meter to measure acceleration and deceleration. The rest of the interior is mostly unchanged from the Sentra, except for new front seats with red stitching and SE-R logos on the headrests; the Spec V gets the added flair of red seatbelts. Despite the sporty looks of the front buckets, the side bolsters don't do much to hold your upper body in place, and although the seat bottom accommodates cheeseburger-laden posteriors, skinnier folks will slide around during hard cornering. The Sentra SE-R has a 13-cubic-foot trunk and rear seats that can hold full-grown adults. Front, side, and curtain airbags are standard.

Engine and Transmission

Underhood is the 2.5-liter QR25DE inline-four, which is also used in the Altima. In the SE-R, it makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. The Spec V has a higher compression ratio (10.5:1 versus 9.6), a 7000-rpm redline (up from 6200), and unique intake and exhaust manifolds, connecting rods, pistons, and camshafts to increase output to 200 horsepower and 180 pound-feet. The CVT in the SE-R works in automatic mode, or the driver can use steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles to operate in manumatic mode. SE-R engines will run on regular unleaded gasoline; the Spec V requires premium.