Nissan is on a mission to launch five new vehicles in 15 months, and our spy shooter has captured images of the next car in that program: the 2013 Nissan Sentra sedan. The new Sentra was first previewed by the Chinese-market Nissan Sylphy, which debuted at the Beijing Motor Show, but this Sentra prototype wears a few different styling cues.
The basic shape of the Nissan Sentra will stay true to that previewed by the Sylphy. The compact sedan gets a smooth, rounded nose and the new corporate grille seen on the 2013 Altima. The C-pillar wraps around a boomerang-shaped quarter window, and the rear window slopes gently toward a stubby trunk.
The car spied here wears all the bodyside creases and character lines we saw on the Chinese Sylphy, with one exception: whereas on the Chinese car the beltline appears to curve slightly on the front doors, this Sentra prototype looks to have a razor-straight beltline. The camouflage also partially obscures the taillights, which on the Sylphy stretch onto the rear fenders. This Sentra prototype's interior appears quite similar to that of the Sylphy, with the most notable design trait being a large hood over the instrument cluster.
Nissan showcased the Sylphy with a new 1.8-liter inline-four and a continuously variable transmission. That drivetrain will quite likely appear in the American car -- though it's also possible our market will get a gutsier 2.0-liter engine and an optional manual transmission. If it arrives here, the new 1.8-liter engine will almost certainly be more fuel-efficient than the current Nissan Sentra's base engine, a 2.0-liter inline-four with 140 hp. The CVT will probably have a broader spread of “gear” ratios and reduced internal friction than in the current car, strategies used in the 2013 Nissan Altima to improve performance and fuel economy.
Executives hinted to us at the New York auto show that some pricier and more complicated technologies might trickle-down to cheaper cars. It's possible (but not certain) that the camera-based lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems from the 2013 Altima could be made available on the new Nissan Sentra.
Nissan has promised to release more information on the 2013 Sentra this summer, coincident with the model's 30th anniversary in this market. The compact sedan should go on sale in early 2013.
The Sentra is the third of five cars Nissan is redesigning over the course of 15 months. The 2013 Pathfinder debuted in concept form at the Detroit auto show, and the 2013 Altima followed at the New York auto show. After the Sentra debuts this summer, we'll see a new version of the Rogue compact crossover, then a new version of the Versa hatchback.