Nissan Sentra, Altima Due To Get 'Dynamic' Design Refresh Soon

October 6, 2014

A refresh due for the 2016 or 2017 Nissan Sentra still won't include a hatchback model; but it will wrap in the sporty, more expressive look of the new Nissan Pulsar hatchback, which made its debut this past week at the Paris Auto Show.

Neither the Pulsar nor the performance-oriented Pulsar NISMO Concept, which hints at a European-market production hot-hatch that would rival the Ford Focus ST, will be headed to the U.S. in their current form.

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That’s news that a lot of U.S. shoppers—who appear to be at last developing more of an appetite for hatchbacks—might not want to hear. But look closely; the Pulsar is in the vanguard of a series of refreshes and fully redesigned vehicles that, in one to three years' time, will make Nissan's U.S. lineup very coherent in a design sense.

Refresh will follow futuristic look of new Maxima, Murano

According to Nissan design chief and senior vice president Shiro Nakamura, in a wide-ranging interview at the Paris show this past week, there are mid-cycle refreshes on the way for both Altima and Sentra. And in both cases, they'll help lift the look of these models up for the “very futuristic and strong statements,” as he puts it, of the new 2015 Nissan Murano that's already on sale, as well as the upcoming 2016 Nissan Maxima that will go on sale sometime next year.

Nakamura admitted that the automaker has faced some criticism—particularly from media—for the design of the current Sentra and Altima. Despite being panned for its bland look, he made clear that, with both models selling so well, the automaker has to be cautious in such a change.

That said, with a far more expressive, dynamic look for the new 2015 Nissan Murano, as well as the 2016 Nissan Maxima expected to debut next year, Nissan is going to restore a sportier personality to those other mainstream models in two steps.

The first is expected as soon as later next year, with the refreshed Sentra as a 2016 or 2017 model. “We are pulling these cars closer to a new generation with minor changes,” said Nakamura, who explained that Altima and Sentra both will be taking steps to the sportier side, as the automaker works on full model changes for Altima, Sentra, and Versa that will be significantly sportier yet, without sacrificing practicality.

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Redesigns won't trade out passenger space

“One of the strengths of the Versa sedan is roominess,” the design chief added, noting that in all the next-generation cars, that's a particularly challenging endeavor. “We have the most roomy hatchback or sedan in the segment, so we don't want to throw away our strengths.”

“So with the minor change we will have a front end very strong, consistent with the new lineup—Murano, Maxima, Sentra, Altima—all very coherent,” outlined Nakamura. “And the next generation, they're also becoming more sporty, but still very affordable and practical—not just sporty.”

“We don't want to go, wow, that's a nice-looking car, but it's a small interior,” he added. “That's not our intention.”

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