Sunday, June 28, 2015
2015 Nissan Sentra vs. 2015 Hyundai Elantra vs. 2015 Ford Fiesta
The Fiesta (a hatchback, auto) I drove around Key Biscayne, FL for four days, the Sentra around San Francisco for a week and the Elantra around New Hampshire for a week. At the end of the period I'm shocked at what a difference there can be between such budget minded vehicles. I would have thought that the drive to cut costs would have homogenized the experience across brands.
The Sentra was by far and away the best of the three in nearly every capacity. While none of the three were particularly quick or sporty the engine on the Sentra is at least willing, capable and dependable. The CVT in the Sentra is acceptable given the good MPG it returns (30 and 38 I believe in city and highway driving) and its 130 HP is well managed. The transmission does have a "sport" and "eco" mode but neither one made any noticeable difference to the performance of the vehicle. The engine in the Elantra was just there...a bit loud, though the whole car was loud compared to the Sentra with seemingly far less sound deadening included. The Fiesta was the real disappointment. Like the Sentra it had a "sport" mode but whether in Sport or regular mode the automatic transmission had no idea what it was doing. Hit the gas and the car didn't respond right away. Then when it did respond it behaved like a drunk looking for his next bar--up, down, high, low, over revved, under revved. Truly the engine management was a complete disaster. There were numerous times during my week with the car that my wife and I thought it was going to break down and cease running because the engine performance was so erratic. A massive disappointment.
Easy grading here...Buy the Sentra...ignore the paid shills who have been reporting over the past two years that the Fiesta is a great, sporty little car...the platform may make a decent rally car once its been gutted, caged, engine reworked or upgraded, in the ST version, etc. As it comes on a dealer's lot in its stock form? Its a dog...And the Elantra? Forgettable...which might be better than my impression of the Fiesta...