LOS ANGELES — The next-generation 2020 Nissan Sentra will have a base grade available with a manual transmission in Canada, a departure from the U.S. packaging strategy where Sentra will be sold exclusively with a continuously variable transmission.
A desire to create a lower-priced grade was a factor in the decision to make a manual transmission available. But Steve Milette, president of Nissan Canada, said that the buying habits of Quebec consumers also played a role and added that those same buyers are less resistant to front-wheel-drive vehicles than the rest of the country.
“[The manual transmission model is] predisposed to the Quebec market, I would say,” Milette said. “What's interesting in Quebec from a market dynamic perspective is even in a vehicle line like Qashqai where you offer both, their predisposition is actually on the front-wheel drive.
“They don't sell as many all-wheel drives as they do front-wheel drives because consumers are looking for value and they can get more car, higher trims, for same or lower price point by choosing front-wheel drive.”
In Canada, heated seats and outboard mirrors are equipped one grade level lower than in the U.S., appearing on the entry-level S grade equipped with a CVT. These features will not be offered on the 6MT model.
Even as demand for compact sedans shrinks, Nissan is steering toward the segment a new with a redesigned Sentra that is more powerful, roomier and loaded with technology.
The eighth-generation Sentra is expected to arrive at dealerships in early February, Automotive News learned. While pricing has not been disclosed, the new model is expected to be priced similarly to the current-generation Sentra.
The 2020 Sentra, debuting Tuesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that delivers 149 hp, up 19 percent from the current generation's 1.8-litre engine.
Riding on a new platform, the 2020 model introduces a new independent rear suspension, which Nissan said improves ride and handling and fuel economy. A dual pinion rack electric power steering, also a first for the model, improves steering feel and maneuverability.
Nissan's vice president of marketing operations, Scott Shirley, describes the Sentra as the "career milestone" car.
"You get that first promotion and want to make a statement," Shirley told Automotive News last week. "That's who we see buying the Sentra."