Cars have gotten big and heavy for no good reason, we often say. Today, at least, we have some validation why the Nissan Sentra has gained about 500 pounds of girth over the last 20 years (gaining along with it an overall four-star safety rating). The Latin NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) took a 2013 Nissan Tsuru–what we’d recognize as an early-90′s Sentra–and subjected it to the crash-test procedures that all new cars get in Europe and the U.S.
The results are shocking: Zero stars. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Niente.
The car, which was sold in the U.S. from 1991 to 1994 as the B13 series Nissan Sentra, is quite a popular sedan in Mexico, replacing the original Volkswagen Beetle as the taxicab of choice when it went out of production in 2002. And by VW Beetle, we mean the Beetle, the one that was designed by Ferdinand Porsche and first put into production in 1938. Relatively speaking, the Nissan Tsuru isn’t that old .
But as you can see, putting an old car through modern tests doesn’t always yield the best results. The Tsuru–which lacks airbags because you can still get away with that in Mexico and parts of South America–crumples like an aluminum can. Its roof buckles. Its dashboard literally splits. None of it is pretty. And it’s among the worst results recorded of a new vehicle. Ever.
But what does Nissan do when it sees the results? Stop selling the car, you say? Of course not. The roughly $10,000 car is too much of a money-maker for Nissan. No, it offers the car up for a fantastic financing plan with nothing down and $117 per month.
Rightfully, the Nissan Tsuru has earned a reputation for its indestructibility. That would be for its 105-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine–not its body structure.