Good For: Sentra hatchback. Nissan only sells a sedan version of the Sentra in the United States, but in New Zealand there is a hatchback version that they badged the Pulsar. It is about 13 inches shorter in overall length, making it easier to cram into tight parking spaces than the typical American sedan. It has the same MRA8DE 1.8L motor, and the Sport button for the CVT is on the gear selector, where it should be. There is no ECO mode, but that seems to be the standard operating mode. The CVT does a great job keeping the revs low when cruising, and I averaged 40 mpg overall for the week.
Compromises: The hatchback body style provides some versatility over the sedan, but the cargo capabilities take all the cut when the overall length is reduced. The interior was comfortable for 4 people, but it was a good thing we packed lightly for our trip. A split sliding rear seat would go a long way in getting more out of all the interior space in this 5-door.
Overall reaction - None: Nissan already sells the 5-door Versa Note in the United States, and it would be difficult to make the case for another one in the lineup that would still feel small here. The "SSS" trim offered in New Zealand with the 182hp 1.6L turbo could add differentiation, but it may not be interesting enough to sell in the small hot hatch market here. In fact, it seems to have not worked in New Zealand, as Nissan has now cancelled cars, leaving just trucks, crossovers, and sports cars from their lineup. Sounds familiar - there's an American car company that is doing that here as well.