It has been a few years since we`ve driven a subcompact Sentra, which ifwe recall, was a tin box that lacked styling and performance.

The 1989 two-door E coupe we drove certainly is an improvement.

Make no mistake, Sentra isn`t a glamor machine. It`s one of those point A to B functional vessels that carry a load of people and their groceries and/orluggage without burning a lot of fuel.

The EPA rating with the 1.6-liter, fuel-injected, 4-cylinder engineteamed with optional automatic is 26 m.p.g. city/30 m.p.g. highway.

Styling is pleasant if not eye-popping. Room and comfort are moreabundant than in, say, a Ford Escort or Dodge Shadow. Ride and handling areadequate and typically more nimble and less cumbersome than small domesticsubcompacts.

Not lots of flash and dash; it just gets you there and back withoutlooking like a pauper.

The coupe is the only Sentra built in Japan and not at Nissan`s Smyrna,Tenn., plant.

Base price: $9,149 with automatic, $8,249 with 5-speed manual.