Nissan is the lesser known variety of Japanese Automaker compared to Honda or Toyota in Malaysia. However, Nissan has carved a niche for comfort cars in terms of consumer placing. Believe, everywhere on the net, people has been giving Nissan thumbs up in terms of handling and comfort.
Nissan places importance on family cars unlike Toyota or Civic which came out with more formidable average user compacts like City or Vios.
I had the previous experience of driving a Toyota Vios and I have no prior experience in handling the late variety of Honda City nor Civic. So, the comparison that I will be giving at the end of the review will cover only the Sentra vs the Vios.
In terms of Pick-Up. Let me just say that the Nissan Sentra trails slowly compared to the more powerful and compact or lighter variants like Vios. The Nissan Sentra with O/D on suffers a severe lag during pick-up especially during traffic lights where it is more prominent.
However, without O/D..I think the pick-up averages slightly better and is bearable.
I concur that the slow pick-up could be due to the heavy material or body utilized by the N.Sentra.
In terms of Handling, the N.Sentra moves like a snake.. one which is controlled by you and not one which is out of control. The feel and touch of the steering wheel corresponds to the movement of the car exactly as how I want it. Sometimes, it could be too sensitive and I find this a little bit of a problem during times when I am more nervous (example, a slight jump when someone shouts beside me might move the car to extraordinaire proportions).
However, the handling of my N.Sentra might respond better due to my 17" Berlinetta VII wheels. Because of these tyres, my FC might also increase a bit more due to more friction between the road and the rubber of my tyre.
Sound proofing. Sound proofing in the N.Sentra is appaling at high speeds. At speeds averaging 100km/h, I can distinctly hear tyre friction/noise and wind noise. I heard that these can be lessened by improving the sound insulation but miracles are not expected. I found a better way to handle this problem and it is called the volume bar.
Engine Noise. When I first got the car, there wasn't much engine noise but during the mornings, when the car starts up from cold, the engine noise might prove a bit higher than after warming it up. The air-cond belt is prone to screeching noises but after changing it the other day, it was soundless.
Electronics. In terms of electronics, the side mirrors and the antenna is prone to mechanical errors. I can't seem to get rid of this nagging feeling that it's not going to be long before it crops up again. I got it fixed before they hand it over to me.
In terms of passenger space, the car provides more than ample space for the front driver and passenger. However, the rear passengers might have to suffer from less leg space. I guess this can't be helped as I find similar problems with Vios.
Fuel Consumption or FC. After servicing my car with a new air filter, new oil filter and semi synthetic oil, I still find the FC averaging at 0.17-0.18 cents per litre.
Overall, let's compare this N.Sentra with the T.Vios.
In terms of Fuel Consumption.
T.Vios : wins hands down at an average of 0.13 to 0.15 cents per litre ONLY!
Handling : N.Sentra wins slightly by a minimal margin.
Comfort : N.Sentra wins with it's ample space and spacious design.
Pick-Up : T.Vios wins during pick-up but lowers down after 110-130km/h. This is where the N.Sentra moves higher.
Build Quality : Believe me, the N.Sentra wins. That's because the T.Vios is not in the same league as the N.Sentra. If we need to compare, we have to do a comparison between N.Sentra and T.Altis
Engine Power : Sentra has the 1.6 and 1.8 variant. T.Vios has VVT-i (whatever...)
Overall, it is really up to taste. Probably the N.Sentra is more suited for a family rather than a bachelor. But the Nismo variant is really awesome.