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First Drive Review: 2020 Nissan Sentra is a compelling combination of interior refinement, tech

Nissan has redesigned the Sentra for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2020 Nissan Sentra is all new with a sportier design, upgraded interior, and new standard safety technologies. It also has a more powerful engine that helps make this compact sedan fun to drive. Together, these features offer a compelling combination designed to entice sedan buyers.

Despite decreased interest in sedans, the Sentra is Nissan's best-selling model in the United States with over six million deliveries since its debut back in 1982. It is available in a range of three trims with just two options packages and sits between the smaller, more affordable Nissan Versa and the larger, more well-equipped Nissan Altima.

2020 Nissan Sentra exterior body wheels The new Sentra has many of Nissan's signature design attributes.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

New sportier exterior styling includes a bold stance that's two inches lower and two inches wider than the previous generation. Nissan's signature V-motion grille dominates the front of the Sentra with thin LED headlamps and a floating roof. The Sentra SR offers an especially aggressive look with black and dark chrome accents, sport-style rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust finisher.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. That's 20 percent more horsepower and 17 percent more torque than before and it makes a big difference in how the Sentra drives.

It easily merges into highway traffic and delivers ample power for passing slower moving vehicles. The transmission is smooth and quiet, even under hard acceleration, making the ride more pleasant for everyone. The Sentra provides a responsive drive experience not often found in affordable sedans.

2020 Nissan Sentra exterior face grille The car provides a pleasant behind-the-wheel experience.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Inside, styling is refined with higher quality materials. It looks and feels good creating a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. Details like contrast stitching and a D-shaped steering wheel reinforce the Sentra's sporty new demeanor.

There's room for five passengers with Nissan's Zero Gravity seats up front. These provide support without being stiff and stay comfortable even through longer road trips. The rear seats accommodate three passengers, but it's a tight fit. Taller adults will feel a bit cramped with low headroom. Push the front seats back and rear legroom is also compromised.

The base infotainment system in the Sentra is somewhat limited and includes a 7-inch touch screen with Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free. Smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is only available on the SV and SR trim. These trims also see the addition of an 8-inch multi-touch display and NissanConnect. While the system is intuitive and quick to learn, the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the base model will disappoint buyers on a budget.

2020 Nissan Sentra interior seats wheel shifter radio Inside, the Sentra is a refined auto for its price point.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan offers a comprehensive suite of safety features through Nissan Safety Shield 360. It includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking.

Rear door alert is also standard. This feature reminds drivers to check the rear seats so nothing is accidentally left in the car. There's also intelligent driver alertness, which detects driving patterns that indicate a tired drive and issues a warning to take a break.

2020 Nissan Sentra interior seats Zero Gravity seats keep the driver and front passenger comfortable on long trips.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Sentra offer a good mix of features along with a pleasant drive experience. It targets value-minded buyers with affordable pricing while still incorporating advanced safety and technology. The base S is priced from $19,090 while the top SR comes in with pricing of $21,430. The Premium Package ups SV pricing to $22,730 and SR pricing to $23,600. Those looking for an affordable, comfortable, and well-equipped sedan can find the 2020 Nissan Sentra in local dealerships in late January.

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Audi is adding sport versions of its all-electric SUV to their portfolio.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi models badged with an "S" or "RS" are the sportiest the German automaker offers. Nearly every model in the lineup has such a variant, some more than one. With four-wheels delivering instant power to the pavement, it should serve as no surprise that the company is rolling out sport-tuned versions of their E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback.

The 2021 Audi E-Tron S and E-Tron S Sportback are the first all-electric Audi models to earn that distinction. The models will have there electric motors (one up front and two in the rear) and a battery that combine to produce 496 horsepower and up to 717 pound-feet of torque, which is available for an eight-second boost period.

The battery has a 95-kilowatt hour capacity with 91 percent usability. On a full charge, the Audi e‑tron S and the Audi e‑tron S Sportback can achieve ranges of up to 223 miles and 226 miles (WLTP).

When the car is operating in normal drive mode, just the rear motors are working. The the driver requires more performance, the front one kicks in. There is no mechanical differential in the all-wheel drive SUVs so torque vectoring takes place in just milliseconds at a very high threshold. Other drive modes including "Sport" and "Dynamic".

Each model has been given "S" specific tuning as well as the ability to adjust the height of the SUV. Owners can store up to seven driver profiles.

The profile of the vehicles has changed as part of "S" modifications with wider wheel arches. The E-Tron S Sportback is more aerodynamic than the E-Tron S. Both models have special front and rear bumper with pronounced contours and prominent inlets. A rear diffuser spans nearly the entire width of both bodies. The models have silver and aluminum exterior detailing and mirror housings, respectively.

Digital Matrix LED headlights are an option. The smart lights can project guides onto the road to show a car's position in a lane on a narrow street.

The SUVs' cabins are equipped with dark upholstery and finishes. Electrically adjustable sport seats finished in Nappa leather are available.

The center stack features two touch screens to control traditional infotainment and climate control functionalities. A head-up display is available. Navigation and the latest modular infotainment platform (MIB 3) are standard.

On-sale dates for the U.S. and pricing have yet to be announced.

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