by J.T. Hills
SGN Contributing Writer
• Roomy interior and a big trunk for a coupe
• Smooth and responsive CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)
• Great gas mileage for a mid-sized coupe
• Opt for bigger wheels; standard 16” looked out of proportion
• Stylistically, the front doesn’t go with the back
The Altima sedan and coupe is Nissan’s top-selling car. First introduced in 1992, the Altima replaced the Stanza as a 1993 model year. 2007 saw the introduction of the fourth generation Nissan Altima built on the “D” platform with improved body rigidity and a redesigned suspension. For 2008, the coupe version of the Altima was added to the lineup. After a week with the 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 2.5 S, I’ve compiled a brass-tacks list of highly technical scientific data based upon observations, experimentations, tabulations, inspections and blah blah blah. Here we go:
Nissan Altima Coupe S … passion in driving?
I took delivery of the Nissan Coupe S and immediately headed out of town for a trip across the state for work. My immediate visceral reaction was that it had great lines, the 16” tires looked out of proportion with the design, and the front of car didn’t seem to esthetically go with the back of the car; it looked like a blunt wedge. The transition from Altima Sedan to Altima coupe lost something. On the plus side, the interior was extremely roomy and well-thought-out, and the trunk was spacious, which I needed.
The test car came with the 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine that produced 175 hp and 180 lb-ft. of torque. Out on the interstate the Nissan performed, well, it performed like a basic four-cylinder mid-sized sedan minus a couple of doors. Nissan focused on new suspension geometry to reduce road harshness, minimize lean and limit torque steer. The 2.5-liter engine does have some punch to it, and the car does feel balanced as you’re thrusting towards freeway speeds on the onramp. Although, when driving more aggressively, you immediately notice that Nissan forgot to engineer the big front seats with larger side bolsters to plant you in them. Maybe it’s just the fatting up of Americans that call for great big unsupported seats. Another plus, though, the Altima has a EPA rating of 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. On my 750 mile round trip I did better, averaging 34 mpg highway. Keep in mind though, with an as-tested price of $23,080 the Altima Coupe is positioned as a great value with sporty looks and great standard features, but a passionate driving experience cost a little extra.
The interior of the Altima is well-thought-out. All the controls are easy to read and readily within reach. The power plug in the center console was a nice touch, though, along with the abundant use of cup holders. The legroom up-front is greatly appreciated for those who are over six foot. The aforementioned big wide seats seem oddly placed in a Japanese coupe – I kept thinking early ‘90s Ford Thunderbird. Getting a passenger into the back seat is a bit awkward. The front seat belt gets in the way, and driver’s seat doesn’t readily pull forward, and it’s an optional eight-way power seat – although there were no complaints from the back seat once they were in there.
OK, for a before-tax price of $23,080, what do you get?
The base 2008 Altima Coupe 2.5 S comes with a substantial list of standard options. Upgrades are expensive. A quick look of my favorites includes:
• 2.5-liter 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder engine
• Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)
• Sequential multi-point fuel injection system
• Anti-lock brakes (ABS)
• Independent multi-link rear suspension
• Power rack and pinion steering
• Front and rear stabilizer bars
• Driver and front passenger front and side impact airbags
• Roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags
• Vehicle stability system
• Tire pressure monitor
• Security system
Comfort and Convenience
• Nissan Intelligent key with push button ignition
• Power windows and door locks
• AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers
• Air conditioning with micro-filter
• Tilt-telescopic steering column
• Two 12-volt DC power sources
• Convenience Package: 16” alloy wheels, eight-way power driver’s seat, automatic on/off headlamps, dual sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, key fob-operated front windows ($1,300)
• Floor and trunk mat ($175)
• Destination and delivery ($615)