Nissan Sentra redesigned as Altima look-alike

Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:38pm EDT
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(Reuters) - When the Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote) compact sedan Sentra rolls into U.S. showrooms in the fourth quarter, consumers may notice that it looks a lot like its bigger stable mate, the recently introduced Altima.

Nissan is pinning expectations of increased Sentra sales for the all-new Sentra in part on the more aerodynamic design and resemblance to the better-selling Altima midsize sedan.

"The 2013 Nissan Sentra is the most revolutionary design in the nameplate's 30-year history," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager of the Nissan brand in North America.

Nissan has eliminated 150 pounds and increased the small car's aerodynamics to help boost its fuel economy to 39 miles per gallon on the highway and 30 mpg in city driving. Sentra's combined fuel economy rating of 34 mpg is a 13-percent improvement over the current model.

The 2013 Sentra will have a 1.8-liter engine, smaller than the current model's 2-liter engine.

Nissan's compact Sentra has a long way to go if it is going to catch up with the leaders of the compact sedan segment of the U.S. auto industry.

Through July, its sales put it ninth in the segment. No. 1 in the compact sedan segment is the Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote) Civic, with sales of 187,586, almost three times the Sentra.

Sales of the Sentra are down 11 percent so far this year, at 65,872. This lackluster performance has allowed the Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T: Quote) Mazda 3 to overtake it, at 68,554 sold.

Jessica Caldwell, senior director of industry analysis, said that the Sentra once was among the top compact sedans on the market, but has been passed by better offerings from competitors.   Continued...