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2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R - Bigger And Better

Bigger And Better: Nissan Brings Back The SE-R

Apr 1, 2001 SHARE
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Under the banner of "it's about time," Nissan has announced the SE-R will once again prowl the streets of the import performance scene. Debuting at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, this new model will be available for sale in the fall of 2001 in SE-R and ultimate-performance SE-R Spec V models.

The original Sentra SE-R, produced from 1991 to 1994, was based on the third-generation Sentra two-door sedan. Even though it looked similar to a standard Sentra, a 140 hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine gave it lots of punch. The SE-R was a Car and Driver "10 Best" winner four times and an Automobile "All-Star" twice, not to mention a favorite of autocrossers and grassroots racers everywhere. Heck, Turbo editor Evan Griffey had the first turbocharged SE-R in 1992, so we have been fans from the get-go. The '91 to '94 appeared in our top used performance car picks in the February issue. When the SE-R moniker jumped to the 200SX nameplate in 1995, the zealous following of the Sentra did not make the trip.

SE-R Style
"The first Sentra SE-R was quite understated," said Bill Kirrane, vice president and general manager, Nissan North America. "This one announces its performance intentions at first glance. The 2002 SE-R was designed to give a feeling of a mini-Nissan Skyline sports sedan. Building upon the style set forward on the fifth-generation Sentra four-door sedan, an aggressive front fascia with a mesh-pattern grille and large fog lamps have been added. The side view is filled with body-color side sill extensions and large wheels and tires-16-inch on SE-R and 17-inch on SE-R Spec V models. The final touch is provided by a rear spoiler and large chrome exhaust tips."

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SE-R Power
An all-new 2.5-liter four-cylinder, dubbed QR25, powers the SE-R. This engine produces 180 hp and 180 lbs-ft of torque in the SE-R Spec V model and 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque in the SE-R, up 40/30 hp and 48/43 lb-ft of torque from the previous generation SE-R. The SE-R Spec V gains 10 hp over the standard SE-R with the use of a specially tuned exhaust system.

Technology for this all-new engine comes from the award-winning VQ six-cylinder engine found in the Maxima sedan and Pathfinder sport utility vehicle. This includes a modular engine design, micro-finished crank journals and cam lobes, molybdenum-coated lightweight pistons, electronically controlled throttle and continuously variable valve timing.

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To combat vibrations inherent in large four-cylinder engines, the QR25 features a silent chain drive and compact balancer system that effectively negates vibrations without taking up too much space-a problem with previous balancer designs.

Backing the QR25 is a six-speed manual transmission (SE-R Spec V), five-speed manual transmission (SE-R) or a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission (SE-R). A helical limited-slip differential is standard on the six-speed equipped SE-R Spec V. This mechanical differential is torque sensitive and provides instantaneous locking for increased traction and performance.

SE-R Handling and Braking
Sentra SE-R's suspension has been tuned to provide a maximum amount of performance and ride comfort. There are two suspensions available, corresponding with model choices-the standard SE-R and the ultimate, track-tuned SE-R Spec V. All SE-Rs feature front independent MacPherson struts and Nissan's patented rear Multi-Link Beam(tm), with 2mm larger front and rear stabilizer bars. The SE-R runs performance-tuned front and rear shock absorbers and a front strut tower brace for additional stiffness and suspension. Completing the suspension upgrades are 16-inch alloy wheels with 195/55R16 tires.

The SE-R Spec V takes the SE-R's handling capabilities one step further. Front spring rates have been increased 15 percent and rear spring rate has been increased 16 percent and there is improved shock absorber tuning. High-performance 215/45ZR17 tires on special 17-inch wheels complete the suspension package and give Sentra a tough, sport-compact look.

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Braking is provided by large four-wheel disc brakes. The front assembly is impressive, consisting of 11-inch rotors. It could be hard to upgrade from these specs.

SE-R Interior & Tunes
Sentra SE-R's interior is differentiated from the standard well-equipped Sentra with numerous performance and convenience enhancements designed by Nissan Design Europe (NDE), NDA and NTCNA-FH. An overhead storage console with map lamps, special seat cloth, titanium-faced gauges and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob give SE-R's interior a sporty, functional look.

Once again, the SE-R Spec V model takes the Sentra to new extremes. An all-metallic meter finish with orange illumination and a special leather-wrapped steering wheel add to the performance look of the special charcoal-colored interior with black and red accents. Skyline-style sport bucket seats ensure that the SE-R Spec V driver's backside stays planted on twisty mountain roads.

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A cool option on all SE-Rs is a 280-watt, nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system with in-dash six CD changer. This system is custom designed for the SE-R by the acclaimed aftermarket audio company, Rockford Fosgate, and includes an 8-inch subwoofer that fires to the rear of the vehicle, rear coaxial speakers and one ohm front door speakers. This is the first system of its kind designed by Rockford Fosgate for an OEM application.

SE-R OptionsSentra SE-R arrives remarkably well-equipped. Available on SE-R is an automatic transmission, sunroof package with dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, front-seat side-impact supplemental air bags and ABS package, vehicle security system and Rockford Fosgate audio system. "The standard SE-R is an import tuner's dream," said Kirrane. "We've given them the best possible combination of parts and performance, ready for their enhancements."

Sentra SE-R Spec V models are equipped to an even higher level, with the six-speed manual transmission and helical limited-slip differential standard. Optional is the Rockford Fosgate audio system, sunroof, front-seat side-impact supplemental air bags, ABS and vehicle security system. No automatic transmission is available on Spec V.

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ConclusionIs Nissan back? The 2002 Sentra SE-R certainly marks the return of Nissan's legendary value-driven sports sedan. It all depends on how many of us get in and "Enjoy The Drive."

2002 NISSAN SENTRA SE-R
PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS
Engine 2.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve QR25 four-cylinder
SE-R Spec V - 180 hp
Transmission SE-R - five-speed manual or four-speed automatic
SE-R Spec V - six-speed manual
Drive Configuration Front-wheel drive
SE-R Spec V - Helical limited-slip differential
Suspension
Front Independent strut with coil springs
with front stabilizer bar and front strut tower brace
(sport-tuned to different levels on SE-R and SE-R Spec V)
Rear Multi-Link Beam™ with rear stabilizer bar
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