The new Nissan Sylphy, which we’ve covered and driven in Thailand, is a global model that will go on sale in 120 countries, with sales expected to hit 550,000 units annually by 2014. Thailand was the second country after China to launch the car, which has now popped up in America as the 2013 Nissan Sentra. Different name, same car.

Nissan says that it focused on “class-above design standards” inside and out, as well as efficiency in engineering for the 2013 Sentra – messages consistent with what we heard in Thailand. The new Sentra is 68 kg – or 5% – lighter than the outgoing model, yet has slightly larger overall dimensions and more interior room. This leads to a 13% improvement in EPA combined fuel economy.

“Nowhere is the new Sentra’s ‘class-above’ style more evident than in the interior. You notice it the minute you sit in the roomy, comfortable seats and when you touch the high quality materials. And when driving you notice the extra attention paid to isolating noise, vibration and harshness from entering the cabin,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America. Not an empty boast, we say.

The US Sentra is powered by the same 1.8L MRA8DE as the ASEAN Sylphy, and the 130 hp/174 Nm figures correspond as well. This new engine has a longer than normal stroke for improved combustion speed and efficiency, as well as twin Continuously Variable Timing Control (CVTC).

It’s matched to a new-generation Xtronic CVT. This improved gearbox, which is smaller and lighter, offers a wider gear ratio of 7.3:1 through use of a sub-planetary gear and smaller pulleys, resulting in better high-speed fuel efficiency at low rpm and more responsive acceleration.

The pics you see here are of the sporty SR and range topping SL. The former is the blue car with 17-inch forked five-spoke alloys, side skirts and rear spoiler. The fog lamp area of the lower bumper, and the lower rear bumper designs are also different.

The SL gets 17-inch split seven-spoke wheels, Smart Auto headlights, fog lights, heated outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, Nissan Intelligent Key, Bluetooth, six-speaker audio system with 4.3-inch display and Sirius XM Satellite Radio. The SL also can be had with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, maple wood-tone trim, dual-zone air con and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Click here for our launch report from Thailand, brief impressions and a full gallery of the new Sylphy. Pics of the 2013 Sentra are after the jump.