No $50,000 Sentra could be called complete without some form of turbocharged trickery under its hood. That's right, an SE-R Spec V equal price-wise to roughly three or four entry level Sentras. This is what we turned to when given the task to scope out, inspect and review Turbonetics' newly released Spec V turbo kit. We'd like to tell you that there were no other semi-stock Spec V's out there rocking Turbonetics' kit, but the truth is, we've been hearing about-and incidentally wanting to drive-this particular Spec V for some time now.
You may be asking yourself how one goes about turning $17K worth of metal and plastic into something worth more than your average double-wide mobile home. It really isn't that difficult. At least the money spending part isn't. Here's how:
Step one: Make the engine better. This requires help from people who know Nissans (Jim Wolf Technology) and charge you for it. Step one also involves spending money with companies like Magnaflow, Walbro and Optima. They will charge you too.
Step two: Make the inside and outside as nice as the engine. Sacks of money will be needed here as well to help fund nice things from Nismo, Razo and Autometer and for paint/graphics.
Step three: Make it handle better. Pay large amounts of money to Nismo again in return for wheels and various suspension components.
Step four: Spend any and all remaining funds on whatever in-car entertainment you deem necessary to reach $50K.
Step five: Make everything worth it. Proceed to the nearest Turbonetics dealer, procure and install the company's latest Spec V turbo kit.
Step five is after all the reason we met up with Cary Lawrence and his ber-costly Spec V. The turbo kit, installed by G Spec Performance, looks at home under the Nissan's hood. And that's because Turbonetics took the time to manufacture something that actually fits, and fits well. The 50-trim T04E turbocharger mated to the ductile iron exhaust manifold-both Turbonetics-issued, of course-fits snugly in between the top end and the radiator, but with just enough room to spare to make everything look happy. Also included in the kit is the company's Evolution wastegate set at about a half a bar (8 psi), a Raptor bypass valve, and a Spearco front-mount intercooler. The parts list of middle-of-the-road or eBay turbo kits destined for Spec V's with smaller monetary goals might end here and probably do. The Turbonetics Spec V kit parts list goes on though. For two pages. It includes almost 200 parts. No kidding. There's 191 bolts, clamps, gaskets, hoses, adapters, fittings, and brackets and even oil. Yes oil. The damn kit is so complete it comes with a case of 5W-30. We've talked about how complete other turbo kits are in the past, but until your kit comes with a case of oil, you've got no room to talk. The Turbonetics kit also addresses important things like fuel management with a Unichip piggyback controller along with a set of 60lb/hr injectors and an in-tank fuel pump. It's components like these that keep Cary's $50K Spec V from becoming a $50K Spec V with a blown engine.
Chris Muzio of Danzio Performance Engineering also made it so Cary's Spec V won't blow up. He made it fast, too. On the rollers of Danzio's Mustang Dynamometer, Cary's Spec V was tuned and ultimately coaxed to put down 303 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque-to the wheels. Strap a Turbonetics turbo kit to a Spec V of your own and you'll see somewhat less power-wise, reportedly 300 hp at the flywheel according to Turbonetics. Still, that's a 125hp gain when compared to a bone stock QR25DE, not too bad at all. And besides, it's nice to know that someone like Cary has already taken the risk and figured out just how much of a beating the 2.5L Altima engine can take, and for how long. But so far, Cary's 100-mile daily commute/beat-down hasn't phased it. Good to know.
And the Turbonetics, or Cary's, Spec V is fun to drive. The ball bearing turbocharger spools up quickly and doesn't waste any time reaching its eight-pound threshold. Paired with the 2.5L engine, there's no waiting for a solid torque-induced kick in the pants right around the 3000rpm mark. From there until we shift it's a solid stream of tire shredding torque that's only resolved as vehicle speeds increase. In other words, stabbing it in first or second gear is futile, and will only result in an impressive display of tire spin but only ho-hum acceleration. Anything after third gear is fun. Big fun.