Pros: acceleration, cornering, mileage, value
Cons: transmission, torque steering
I have owned my 2002 Nissan Sentra SE/R Spec V for almost 2 years and have put about 35,000 miles on it. I love this car!
It has great acceleration and cornering, and gets nice gas mileage as well. I typically get around 31mpg. My driving is a mix of city and highway. The cornering is precise, with very little body roll. Ths stock Continental tires are a great mix of traction and durability.
Road noise is average for a car with this performance level. But with the Rockford Fosgate stereo, whether or not you actually hear the road noise is purely optional. My Spec V came with the 6 disc CD changer and a sub-woofer. Nice sound for a factory set.
The car also comes standard with a 6 speed manual transmission and a limited slip differential. The transmission takes some getting used to. But after that it is just fine. The transmission and torque steering under extreme acceleration are the only minor negatives about the car. Both of these are more of a "getting used to it" kind of thing rather than real flaws. One other annoyance is the location of the front cupholders. Anything larger than a small coffee cup will not only block the CD changer controls, but is also in the way for shifting in first, third or fifth gears. And because the CD changer controls are feather touch, reaching for your drink and accidentally change to playing a different CD. Again, not a big deal. Just not very well thought out.
On the plus side, it has lots of cool little storage cubby holes, including a compartment in the top/center of the dash. The trunk is also generously sized for this size of car. No problem holding stuff for a weekend getaway for two. A weekend getaway for a family of 4 is doable, but it will be necessary to pack a little light.
But like I said earlier, with the Spec V it is all about the driving. If you want some fun on twisty roads, this car is up to the task! (and it won't break your budget)