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Nissan Sentra, Juke Nismo editions herald hotter small cars

Steve Siler
November 21, 2013

Nissan knows it has a good thing in its in-house motorsports division, Nismo (which stands for NIS-san MO-torsports), the same outfit that brought us such savory delights as the sportified Juke Nismo, 370Z Nismo, the obscenely fast GT-R Nismo. But it seems that at least two more Nismo street cars are on the way: the more powerful Juke Nismo RS, shown in full production dress, and the Sentra Nismo, which Nissan is calling a “Performance Study” but is more or less a shoe-in for production next year.

2014 Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Due to hit Nissan showrooms this winter, the 2014 Juke Nismo RS looks more or less identical to the standard Juke Nismo, but gets a boost in output of its turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine from 197 hp to 215 hp (at 6,000 rpm) and from 184 lb-ft of torque to 210 lb-ft (at 3,600 – 4,800 rpm) for the 6-speed manual transmission model, which comes front-wheel drive and a limited slip differential to help manage torque steer. CVT-equipped models are somewhat less potent, with 211 hp (at 6,000 rpm) and just 184 lb-ft of torque (at 2,400 – 6,000 rpm), though, like lesser Juke Nismos, the CVT model comes standard with all-wheel drive.

Other Nismo RS niceties include Recaro racing seats, an even sportier suspension, additional body stiffening, vented rear brake rotors, and slightly modified steering tuning. Nissan didn’t get specific about pricing, except to say that it will remain affordably priced. At least compared to the next-up the line Juke, the $600,000+, 580-hp Juke R.

2014 Nissan Sentra Nismo Concept

As with the Juke Nismo, the Sentra Nismo Concept takes an innocuous car and heaps on the badass. Shown in a pearl white paint (thankfully not in a trendy matte finish), the Sentra Nismo rides on a lowered, Nismo-tuned suspension and features darkened headlamps, fender flares, carbon fiber mirror caps, a rear diffuser (with center rear fog lamp!), quad exhaust tips, a black chrome grille, mirror-finished roof panel, front and rear spoilers and Nismo’s signature red pinstripe around the car. The wheelwells are stuffed with 19-inch RAYS wheels, performance tires, and red-painted 370Z Brembo brake calipers.

The interior gets lots of Alcantara upholstery on the seats, door panels, headliner and steering wheel, black chrome trim, unique gauges, as well as Recaro seats and a racing-inspired steering wheel, complete with red leather stripe at the 12 o’clock position.

Under the hood is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing “more than 240 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque,” mated to a six-speed manual transmission with a limited slip differential. Like all other Sentras, this concept is front-wheel drive.

Nissan would be foolish not to build the Sentra Nismo, for two reasons. First, the Sentra, however nice, is about as sexy as a pair of gray Ugg boots, and it couldn’t hurt Nissan to have a car like this to lure in more male buyers. Second, the Sentra Nismo has a cult-status predecessor, the mid-90s era Sentra SE-R, which at the time had a genuine following among car enthusiasts, some of which (your humble author included) are actually a bit nostalgic for that car now. "Fans have asked that we bring back a high-performance Sentra straight from the factory, just like in generations past," said Nissan Vice President of Product Planning, Pierre Loing.

We’ll see what the production version will be like, but we certainly hope it looks exactly like this. Sans the tacky roof wrap.