The Car Connection Nissan 200SX Overview
The Nissan 200SX is a small sporty coupe based on the Nissan Sentra and only produced from the 1995 through 1998 model years. The 200SX, which followed both the Sentra Coupe and the NX, wasn't replaced as a two-door, but it was effectively merged back in with the Sentra lineup from 2000 on, when the Sentra went sedan-only for the U.S.
Alternatives to the 200SX from the same era included the Honda Civic Si Coupe, the Volkswagen GTI, and the Subaru Impreza RS, as well as the Ford Escort ZX2, Saturn SC, and Chevrolet Cavalier Z24.
While mostly identical to the Sentra in terms of what's under the hood and what's on the dash, these cars were just a little sportier in tuning, and while base and SE models received the same 115-horsepower, 1.6-liter in-line four-cylinder engine, performance-oriented SE-R models got a 140-hp, 2.0-liter four. With either of the engines, you could get a five-speed manual gearbox of four-speed automatic.
These cars are by no means quiet, smooth, or refined, but they've earned a reputation for tremendous reliability and longevity. Many were raced and modded through several generations of new enthusiasts, so there's quite the mix of tired cars and well-maintained commuters still on the road.
That said, they weren't viewed as an out-of-the-box bullseye like the 1991-1994 Sentra SE-R; with the competition getting more refined, these could feel like buzzy economy cars in many respects. The SE-R also lost the independent rear suspension of the previous generation Sentra SE-R, and the engine's redline was brought from the previous 7,400 rpm down to 7,100 rpm. Anti-lock brakes were optional.
In terms of practicality, the 200SX has a rather cramped back seat, but respectable trunk space for a car this size. Several critics found that interior materials were quite good for the time--at least for the price.
A few minor changes were introduced to the lineup each model year; some might prefer the 1998 models for their white-faced gauges, oval exhaust tip, redesigned front and rear details, and larger wheels. From 1997, all trim levels got the rear spoiler.
And no, we didn't forget: The 200SX badge had also been used years earlier on a completely different kind of car. From 1977 through 1988, the Nissan 200SX (also the Datsun 200SX for some years) was a rear-wheel-drive sporty coupe.
Collector attention has really piped up for these earlier rear-drive cars, and Nissan sold far more of these models in the U.S. than they did the newer front-drivers—so at this point it's a wash as to which one you're more likely to encounter in a used-car listing.