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FWD Champions:
The B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R

April 19, 2012 by Matt

B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R SER Red

Here’s one I’d absolutely love to drive.

Like the Toyota AE86, in its day, the ’91-’94 B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R was something of a hidden jewel. Never a smashing success in spite of the profile-raising accolades heaped upon it by the automotive press, it exited the market quietly in ’94 without leaving a real replacement.

It’s easy to see why more buyers didn’t gravitate in the B13 SE-R’s direction—the styling is decidedly soap bar-ish in spite of the sporty wheels, fancy air dam and spoiler. That said, those who didn’t consider one by all accounts missed something special.

Nissan Sentra SE-R SER Engine Bay Motor SR20 SR20DE B13

To create the SE-R, Nissan took their cheapest car, stiffened the suspension, fitted it with a limited-slip differential, and equipped it with their wonderfully stout, flexible and rev-happy 4-cylinder, 2.0l, 140 hp SR20DE engine. The result was a car that could blow through 60 mph from a standstill in 7.6 seconds—not blisteringly fast, but quick enough to keep pace with higher-tier sports coupes and sedans. The suspension gave the car a fling-about, tossable character and the LSD helped put every last bit of power to the ground effectively.

Nissan Sentra SE-R SER Interior Inside Cockpit Console Seats

The B13 SE-R was more than the sum of its parts. Car and Driver, one of its biggest fans, wrote, “The Nissan Sentra SE-R isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but it’s a beautiful driving experience.” All reviews of the day praised the convergence of the SR20 engine’s brilliance, the chassis’ playful character and the overall car’s price and utility into a near-perfect package for the price. As for me, its underrated, diamond-in-the-rough persona is a major draw, and elevates it into the ranks of seriously desirable cars.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting FWD cars I think highly of, in spite of my overwhelming RWD bias. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: FWD Champions, Nissan

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