Code Red Altima

After my post about the Nissan Altima Coupe yesterday, I decided that I wanted to test drive the car for myself. So today, I had the pleasure of test driving the all new 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe. These cars just arrived into showrooms yesterday and had to go through a series of inspections before they were available for test drive. The one I drove was the only one in my area that was actually available for test drive, the rest of the dealerships weren’t allowing test drives due to reserves being placed on the car. I was one of the first to get behind the wheel of the all new Nissan Altima Coupe and I was quite excited beforehand. The coupe I drove was the code red color (as seen above) and was the 2.5S with the Xtronic CVT transmission and the added packages was the Convenience Package and the floor mats. Here is the breakdown of the review:

Exterior
The car actually looks quite different from the Nissan Altima Sedan and although it comes with the signature Nissan grill, the sporty look of the car is ready to turn heads. Once I hit the highway, turn heads it did. Everyone seemed to be catching a glimpse of this Code Red Nissan Altima Coupe. The detail on the outside is well laid out. The grill is nice and bold and the headlights are similar to the ones on the Nissan Maxima. The rear of the car is whats really different. The car has a very bold line that shoots out from the rear of the car towards the front and this creates a very sporty appeal. The lights on the back are nice and the rear back up lights (clear) create a break in the big red rear lights. The dual exhausts also lets the drivers behind you know that you aren’t playing! Overall the exterior is quite impressive for this coupe and even though it may look smaller than the sedan in person, it really isn’t.

Interior
Once sitting in the seats, you will notice that the seats may not be as comfortable for long drives. I didnt get a chance to sit in the rear seats but my partner that went with me stated that rear leg room was a bit tight. Nissan has shaved 4 inches off the wheelbase for the coupe and it may feel as though all 4 inches were taken away from the rear passengers. The salesman stated that 4 adults could occupy the car, and it is possible however, this may not be best for long haul drives. The dash on the front is well appointed with chrome accents around the dials. The inside is similar to the Nissan Altima sedan and the red dials are very attractive in the black interior that this car had. All the buttons make it easy to use with a low learning curve. There is a nice storage box in the center console and the passenger side glove box is very large with regards to most others in its class. The one thing that is disappointing is that the Nissan Altima’s stock stereo doesn’t play MP3 or WMA Cd’s. The salesman said that its not uncommon however, I realized that both the Honda Civic Coupe LX (around $16000) and the Camry Solara (around $20,000) come standard with MP3 and WMA playback capability. Aside from that, everything seems quite well put together. The push button ignition is a great feature and works quite well although there has been some issues of using the intelligent key in combination with a bluetooth headset. I wasn’t able to test it for myself but I would hope that if the problem exists that Nissan would resolve the issue. The power seats is a good option but for a $1300 package you might find it odd that Nissan doesn’t offer hands-free bluetooth as an accessory add-on rather, if you want hands-free bluetooth in the 2.5S model you have to buy a Premium Package priced at a hefty $5,100 for the 2.5S and for the 3.5SE you are looking at around $3,200. Other than that, everything is well placed in the car.

Driving Experience
Once on the road, the Coupe handled very well and acceleration of the 175hp engine seemed adequate. The V6 will deliver a lot more horsepower and may be too much for the average driver making the 2.5S more popular. The cruise and audio control buttons are well placed on the steering wheel making for easy access. The gauges on the dash are large and easy to read and the informative LCD screen is also well placed in the center of the gauges. The power steering on the car is very smooth and requires no effort at all, making the car turn easily. Being a sports car, the bumps in the road can be easily felt sometimes but for the most part the drive was very smooth. Braking was very firm and the car seemed solid on the road. The CVT also works very well (much better than the Lancer’s CVT) and the road noise is very minimal. There is one issue though – There is a blind spot problem, as there is in most coupes, but it was a bit difficult to see if anyone was in your blind spot but then again, I guess regular driving would get you adjusted to that. Other than that, the driving experience was quite thrilling. The car handled well, drove very smoothly and braking was very firm, as it should be.

Conclusion
In the end, I think this is a great car for someone who isnt worried about carrying a lot of cargo (trunk is around 8 cubic feet), and one who isnt worried about driving more than 2 people around for longer trips. The car is well balanced and is built solid. The Nissan brand adds quality and reliability to the car. One thing i do hope for is that Nissan wont create such large packages and allow people to pick and choose certain options such as Bluetooth, Leather or Moonroof without the addition of large and expensive packages. Overall, the car drives great, looks fantastic and for a first generation car, issues such as the ones mentioned above are common. Hopefully Nissan will take note and we should see drastic improvements in the next year model.