You'll Like The 2007 Nissan Sentra If...
For those who need to temper their behind-the-wheel fun with a host of more practical considerations, the SE-R makes a whole lot of sense. Even the edgier Spec V maintains a level of overall civility that allows it to serve admirably as a daily driver.
You May Not Like The 2007 Nissan Sentra If...
Hard-core enthusiasts may deem that the upgraded suspension tuning on both of these two Super Sentras - but particularly the SE-R - is still too soft, and criticize them for permitting excessive body motion when cornering - but it would take a pretty hard-core enthusiast to do so.
These replacements for the previous-generation SE-R and SE-R Spec V models offer a much more rewarding overall driving experience, complementing the all-new and vastly improved Sentra package with a major shot of real performance - and they do it in an enticingly affordable way.
While even the base 2007 Sentra offers a bigger, more contemporary looking cabin than its predecessor, the SE-R and SE-R Spec V step that game up considerably. They set off the angular design motif and normal brushed aluminum accents with a high-performance overlay that brings items like more deeply contoured sport bucket seats covered in black cloth with special red "SE-R" logos, Sport Cloth door trim, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, revised instrumentation (that adds an oil-pressure gauge and accel/decel "g" meter in a central dash cluster) and drilled aluminum pedal covers. Unlike lesser Sentra models, the rear bench seat in both cars is fixed to allow for a supplemental stiffening brace in the trunk on the Spec V model. The Spec V also gets distinctive red seatbelts.
The SE-R and SE-R Spec V share numerous aggressive visual enhancements that set them apart from basic Sentras. Heading the list are bolder front and rear fascias, integrated side sills, a tasteful rear decklid spoiler and the requisite "SE-R" and "SE-R Spec V" tail badging. Complementing those bits are subtly revised head and taillamp treatments, a sport grille, reshaped lower air intake, standard fog lights and a chrome exhaust tip. Both SE-R and Spec V are fitted with identical 17-inch lightweight alloy wheels that mount 225/45 tires, but the former gets V-rated all-season rubber while the latter is shod with W-rated summer performance tires.
With 23 extra horses plus a stiffer suspension and structure, the SE-R Spec V is the sporting standout here, although the SE-R deserves well-above average fun-to-drive marks for those who need an even more practical primary transport module. While it has considerably more body roll than the Spec V on initial turn in, both cars exhibit almost no torque steer and are quite predictable and controllable when pushed nearer the limit - despite the absence of any standard or optional stability controls. With 177 horsepower and six "virtual" gears in its paddle-shifted CVT automatic, the SE-R can touch 60 miles per hour in about eight seconds, while 200 horsepower and a six-speed manual gearbox help the Spec V knock about a second off that interval - assuming, of course, a driver with the skills to make it all work to its best. The upgraded ABS disc brakes endow each with confident and consistent stopping power.
In base form, the Sentra SE-R has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $20,015 while the SE-R Spec V is $20,515. Both are currently selling for that full amount, but Fair Purchase Prices that represent prices consumers are actually paying at any given moment can differ substantially, so click on the Fair Purchase Prices to compare. Historically, the SE-R Spec V has done slightly better when it comes to retaining value over time than the SE-R. Both are expected to do better than the Chevrolet Cobalt SS and SS Supercharged, but worse than a Honda Civic Si, over KBB's standard five-year benchmarking period.
Save for sport bucket seats covered in black cloth instead of leather, the SE-R and Spec V share nearly all of the comfort and convenience touches with the Sentra 2.0 SL, including power windows and locks, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD sound system, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless remote entry and front/front-side/side-curtain airbags. Key differentiators are their unique exterior bits, more powerful 2.5-liter engines in place of the standard 2.0-liter Sentra four, model-specific CVT automatic (SE-R) and six-speed manual (SE-R Spec V) transmissions, more powerful brakes (larger discs in front and discs instead of drums in the rear) and suspension upgrades - stiffer springs in the SE-R and spring/shock/anti-roll bar upgrades plus additional body stiffening in the SE-R Spec V.
The SE-R and SE-R Spec V come loaded with standard features, so the extras list is short. Either can be fitted with a 340-watt/eight-speaker Rockford-Fosgate AM/FM/MP3 sound system with six-disc in-dash CD changer, factory-installed XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and a power sunroof. SE-R buyers can also opt for Nissan's Intelligent Key keyless entry/starting system, while a helical limited-slip differential is available for the Spec V.
Tasteful Appearance Tweaks
Both of these hot Sentras do without massive wings, giant fender bulges and other forms of high-profile "tack-ons" in favor of more understated visual cues to hint at the impressive performance capabilities that lie within.
Spec V High-Output Engine
Nissan put major effort into the High Output version of its QR25DE engine, including modifying the block, crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, camshafts and valve springs. The result is a high-winding little jewel with the power to put a smile on the face of any enthusiast.
Under the Hood
Although both members of this dynamic duo pack a 2.5-liter DOHC in-line four, each is aimed at a different type of real-world owner. The SE-R gets a 177 horsepower version that makes its very usable 172 pound-feet of torque at just 2,800 rpm, drinks unleaded regular gasoline and is mated to a modified version of Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that features steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers and six "virtual" gears in its "manual" mode. Bolstered by numerous internal modifications, the more intense Spec V iteration requires premium fuel to make its 200 horses, creates 180 pound-feet of torque peak at a lofty 5,200 rpm and comes only with a conventional close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox that gets an upgraded short-throw shift linkage.
2.5-liter in-line 4
200 horsepower @ 6600 rpm (manual)
177 horsepower @ 6000 rpm (automatic)
180 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm (manual)
172 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm (automatic)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 (manual), 27/33 (automatic)
Following up on the all-new-for-2007 conventional Sentra models, the hot SE-R and even hotter SE-R Spec V variations put some serious enthusiast appeal into Nissan's critical core offering. While both start with the new C-Platform architecture that also underpins other Sentras, each of these more potent front-wheel-drive sedan variations bring powertrain and suspension enhancements to the mix, along with a host of functional and cosmetic tweaks that place them in direct competition with cars like the Chevrolet Cobalt SS and SS Supercharged and the Honda Civic Si sedan. Where the SE-R sets its sights on buyers who demand the convenience of an automatic transmission, the Spec V offers its extra degree of adrenaline rush with a six-speed manual gearbox.