It’s a battle of price, gadgets, and operating costs—a battle on a global scale. The weapons of the C segment: affordability, pragmatism, and above all, fuel economy.
In the North American market, cars like these are like your home. If you commute, you may spend as much time in your car as you do in your home while awake.
But North America is not the sole driver of this market. The 2013 Nissan Sentra is a prime example of a car designed for multiple markets and a global audience.
Tim Franklin, Sr. Manager Product Planning, Nissan Canada, was in Japan as the new Sentra was developed. “This vehicle, to a large extent, was shaped by China and the Chinese customer.”
The Sentra is a comparatively large, luxurious car in China so it needed a roomy backseat for the illustrious passenger being chauffeured. It needed to be elegant with lots of premium features, something key in that market.
The 1.8L SV Sentra I drove, the “every-man’s” model in Canada, comes with LED taillights, remote keyless entry, push-button ignition, a touch screen stereo with Bluetooth and XM satellite radio, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Yes, it’s super roomy and has an alarming number of bells and whistles for the price ($14,848 for the S and $17,548 for the SV, all in before tax) because of China’s needs, at least in part.
Canadians made our contribution too. “Canadian’s use these cars for everything,” said Franklin. So the Chinese can thank us for the “cavernous trunk” apparently. I love me some cavernous trunk! It’s got 60/40 split rear seats for hauling Canadian lumber, or a freezer full of moose meat, as need be.
I’m giving us all the credit for the trunk because in America they like packing their supersized stuff into full-sized sedans. Canadians prefer compact sedan fuel economy.
The 1.8L SV Sentra I drove had a CVT transmission, which was a little awkward and grasping, not to mention a little weird sounding. But the result is segment dominating fuel economy, provided you’re not lead-footed.
And that’s key. To get the 6.6 L/100km city 4.9L/100km highway, you need to drive very conservatively. You need to be the type of person who will get into a car and not even notice it has a CVT transmission.
If you drive more aggressively, you may get 8.4 L/100km combined like I did. Driving manually may be better in that case, and that option will offer a little more engagement, and save you $1,300.