The previous generation Sentra SER Spec-V was a bit of an odd little beast. Stiffly sprung and with bags of horsepower through the front wheels, it was a torque steering nightmare. The fit and finish inside and out was haphazard at best. Overall, it felt like some tuner had gone wild adding performance bits to a basic Sentra and had built a car that handled like it was on rails and went like a scared cat, but really wasn’t a very nice car otherwise.
Fast forward a couple of years and the current generation Spec-V has matured into a little burner that shares most of Nissan current trend of styling cues. There are those who feel the styling is a bit too bland, but with the addition of attractive 17″ wheels and a few small aero bits the Spec-V looks just that little bit sportier than the more pedestrian base Sentra. Inside, the corporate style is in full swing, with nice quality surfaces and good looking seats. This is definitely a step forward for the Sentra line.
Out onto the infield course at Pocono Raceway, the Spec-V pulled strongly, without much torque steer. Here too an improvement over the previous gen car. Handling is fairly typical for a front driver, with initial understeer that easily turns to a controllable lift throttle oversteer. You’ll never worry that the Sentra is going to swap ends if you do something stupid.
With 200 horsepower from Nissan’s successful 2.5 L 4 banger, the Spec-V has more than enough juice get speeds into the triple digits quickly. It is however missing the ferocity of the Dodge Caliber SRT-4 or Mazdaspeed3. At least once during the day, the Spec-V did manage to out drag the Viper GTS though!
Ok, so that requires a bit of explanation. At the beginning of my second lap, the Viper pulled out of the pits right in front of me. I didn’t anticipate a problem, as I expected the big snake to take off into the distance. Instead, 2 corners later I was breathing down it’s neck. Up onto the banked straight, I accelerated hard, still glued to the back end of the Viper. At about 80 mph, the driver drifted to the right to let me by and I looked over at none other than Gene Sanchez from VOD Cars! By the time I had hit the 100 mph mark, the Viper’s handler (a Skip Barber instructor) allowed Gene to let it go and he blew by me like I was tied to a tree. Man is that car fast!
Still, it makes a pretty cool story to say I out dragged a Viper in a Sentra!