Canada has many charming aspects: legal weed, the metric system, a functioning government. It also has its curiosities: Tim Horton's, curling, and (since 2015) a race series that exclusively uses the subcompact Nissan Micra. But with the Micra having departed Nissan's Canadian lineup after 2019, it was time for a new race car. Enter the Nissan Sentra, star of the newly renamed Nissan Sentra Cup.
Although the current Nissan Sentra is vastly improved compared to its predecessor, one wouldn't call it sporty. Unlike Sentras past, there's no NISMO or SE-R model. But the same could be said of the Micra, and Nissan didn't hesitate to build a race series around that car. Plus, the Sentra Cup race cars are modified compared to the street version.
Much of the interior is stripped out — so long, quilted leather — and in its place, a single racing seat with a six-point harness, a quick-release racing steering wheel, a fire-suppression system and a full roll cage are fitted.
The powertrain, though, is stock. Or should we say, Canadian-stock. The 149-horsepower 2.0-liter engine is retained, adding just a cold-air intake and a new ECM. But whereas U.S. Sentras are offered exclusively with a CVT, the Canadian Sentra S is available with a six-speed manual transmission, and that's the gearbox used in the Sentra Cup cars. Chassis upgrades include an adjustable coil-over suspension, four-piston front calipers with larger rotors, the Sentra SV/SR rear calipers and rotors, high-performance brake pads, a custom exhaust system, lightweight 18 x 9-inch wheels, urethane reinforced motor and transmission mounts, and a pit speed limiter.
The cost of the Sentra Cup car is $39,990 Canadian, or about $31,300 U.S. dollars.
The Nissan Sentra Cup race series will be comprised of six major events from May through September 2021. According to the official website, the race events will consist of a 30-minute trial, a 30-minute qualifying session, and two 40-minute races. For a time, the series will continue to use Micra race cars as well, although the two models will compete separately. Nissan describes the series as "a proving ground for burgeoning racing talent," although it's not just for young drivers — there's also a seniors category. So, Sentras for all ages, eh?