The current Nissan Sentra isn’t a car that you will associate with performance. It’s a far cry from the Sentra SE-R of yore, which was a genuinely sporty compact. But a few months ago, Nissan surprised us with the 2017 Sentra SR Turbo, which made its world debut at the Miami International Auto Show. Boasting 188bhp from the same 1.6-litre turbocharged four-pot that powers the Juke SL Turbo, mated to a six-speed manual transmission instead of the standard car’s CVT. And now, the Japanese carmaker has come out with yet another ‘sporty’ version of the mainstream saloon, this time complete with a Nismo moniker. And Nissan promises “aftermarket tuner-style” performance.

“For 2017, we're bringing new excitement to Sentra with the Sentra Nismo, which brings driving enthusiasts aftermarket tuner-style performance straight from the factory,” says Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America.

Well, before you get all excited, let’s point out that despite the Nismo appendage, the latest variant doesn’t get any performance upgrade over the SR Turbo. In fact, it has the same turbochaged four-pot under its bonnet. That’s a bit disappointing, as the same block has been tuned to more than 200bhp in other applications before. However, there seems to have been quite a few tweaks to the suspension and aerodynamics to justify the Nismo badge. The aggressive exterior treatment includes a lower front bumper and rear bumper obviously inspired by the GT-R, and a spoiler. Other visual differentiators include dark chrome grille and door handles, black side mirrors, red accents and obviously the Nismo badges. But these changes are not merely cosmetic, as Nissan claims the tweaks to the exterior combine to effect up to 30 per cent reduction in lift. Nismo engineers have also fettled with the suspension, which gets monotube rear dampers and tweaked springs and struts up front.

The Sentra Nismo will go on sale in the US next January with an estimated price of $25,000 (Dh92,000).