Slight upgrades have kept the Sentra fresh, but the competition, Honda Civic, Geo Prizm and Toyota Corolla, have gone upmarket, and Nissan is sure to follow. The "1994.5", Nissan's term for it, Sentra is larger, heavier, faster and more expensive than the bargain-priced pre-1992 Sentra.
The 1994.5 Sentra is available in 2- and 4-door sedans with two engines, a 1.6-liter dohc 16-valve Four, and a 2.0-liter dohc 16-valve all-aluminum Four identical to the one in the Infiniti G20. The smaller engine is available with either of two transaxles, manual or automatic.
The 2.0-liter is available only in the high performance 2-door SE-R model, a car Nissan likes to compare with the much more expensive BMW 318i. The SE-R has power steering, aluminum wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, optional ABS and power sunroof, front and rear stabilizer bars, foglamps and a viscous limited-slip differential.
The same basic 2-door and 4-door bodies are available in base E and LE versions with the smaller engine. These use drum brakes in the rear and have the 4-speed automatic as an option. The LE also has power steering and front and rear stabilizer bars, both optionally available on the E.
The SE-R and LE have a front airdam. All Sentras have tinted glass and rear window defoggers. Air conditioning is standard on the LE, optional on the others. Only the LE 4-door has the option of power windows and door locks, and standard cruise control.
The 200SX was reincarnated in early February 1995 on the new Sentra platform as a more spacious alternative to the Honda Civic coupe, Saturn coupe and Acura Integra. It offers more front headroom and more rear shoulder, hip and legroom than the competition. This in a market segment that usually considers the back seat nothing more than an extended package tray. With a stiffer body shell (17% more torsional rigidity over the previous Sentra SE-R) and Nissan's space-saving Multi-Link Beam suspension rather than the independent setup used previously, the carmaker was able to apply a longer wheelbase and a larger trunk to the reborn 200SX.
The Multi-Link Beam, though prosaic, has helped to elevate the 200SX to a very high level of handling and control. It offers superior camber control and uses softer bushings and fewer mounting points to reduce noise. An independent test, which included the 200SX SE-R, Integra GS-R, Saturn SC2 and Civic EX, claims that the Nissan produced the fastest slalom times ever recorded for its class. Motivation for the base model comes from a refined dohc 1.6-liter 4-cylinder coupled with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. Performance-minded SE-R models are equipped with a splendid 2.0-liter, twin-cam engine and manual transaxle as standard.
Features up through the model range include the base 200SX with power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, power mirrors, front-door map pockets, dual cup holders, tilt steering column, intermittent windshield wipers, full wheel covers, tinted glass and rear-window defroster. The SE adds air conditioning, 4-speaker AM/FM/cassette stereo and digital clock, power windows and locks, cruise control, fog lamps and 14-in. alloy wheels. The SE-R provides a leather-wrapped steering wheel, limited-slip differential, 15 x 6-in. wheels, rear spoiler and side sills and a remote keyless-entry system. All versions of the 200SX are equipped with dual airbags. In addition, a 4-channel, 4-sensor antilock braking system is available on SE and SE-R models.
Coming into the fray as a 1995 1/2 model, there are no further changes for 1996 200SX.