There’s a curious contradiction in the sedan world. While consumers worldwide are turning away from so-called ‘large’ sedans, the hot-selling ‘mid-sizers’ are…well, they’re upsizing actually.
Take the all-new Nissan Altima which has replaced the Maxima in Nissan Australia’s lineup. Classed as ‘mid-size’, the nicely-styled Altima delivers interior space akin to the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. That’s great news for families.
Fact is, while we take the Altima made at Nissan’s plant in Thailand, this nameplate is a global car for Nissan and its gestation was actually in North America. Try selling a sedan in the U.S.A which short-changes on interior space and that’s a certain trip to ‘Nowheresville’ in terms of sales aspirations.
Nissan Altima Overview
CarShowRoom.com.au tested the entry-level Nissan Altima ST 2.5 which is priced at $29,990. So this is a rival to Toyota Camry Altise, Mazda6 Sport and Ford Mondeo LX. Some have suggested these are cars designed for the fleet/car rental market…but that’s a bit harsh.
In fact, the Nissan Altima ST is quite generously equipped and, in reality this is the model grade most family buyers will consider.
Where the Altima runs rings around many in this segment is in interior space…again a big tick with family buyers.
Nissan Altima Engine
Don’t believe V8 Supercar racing – you can’t buy a V8-powered Nissan Altima. You can get a 183kW/312Nm 3.0-litre V6 but only in the range-topping Nissan Altima Ti.
So our entry-level ST (and mid-grade ST-L) ran the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder powerplant with maximum power of 127kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 230Nm is delivered at 4000.
Drive is to the front wheels via Nissan’s Xtronic CVT automatic transmission.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 7.5l/100kms.
Nissan Altima The Interior
Even though we tested the entry-level Nissan Altima ST, there’s an upscale look about the interior and high quality materials which put Nissan’s mid-sizer onto the same page as cars like the Ford Mondeo and Mazda6. And that’s certainly a step-up from the un-loved Maxima.
There’s also heaps of space front and rear. In fact in terms of spaciousness, the Nissan Altima does leave some rivals looking a tad shrunk.
Nissan points to NASA-derived ‘zero gravity’ research in its front seat design for the Altima (and the all-new X-TRAIL). Comfortable? Yes. A ground-breaking advance? No.
Combine that comfortable seat with rake/reach adjustment for the sportily small steering wheel and the Nissan Altima delivers a top-shelf driving position.
Dashboard design and instrumentation is clearly from the ‘New School’ at Nissan – contemporary looks, nice graphics and good use of various colours. ST model gets a five-inch colour display and a six-speaker audio system with the usual connectivity.
Rear seat accommodation is again spacious, the seat split-folds 60/40 and the luggage space is massive at 488-litres.
Nissan Altima Exterior & Styling
Large badges are the current hip idea amongst car stylists and the design gurus at Nissan aren’t immune – Nissan’s new ‘family’ front end on the Altima is adorned with an upscale version of the corporate logo. It’s the starting point for a thoroughly contemporary look for Nissan’s global mid-size sedan.
We like that modern grille and also the sophisticated headlights (again very ‘on-trend’ these-days). These blend to nicely sculptured front fenders and a curved bonnet.
Side profile is dominated by the sloping roofline and prominent side character lines, while the rear is also very trendy with modern bulging tail-lights and sculpturing around the boot cut-lines. Nissan Altima ST as tested rides on 16-inch alloy wheels.
And despite its dimensions (up there for mid-sizers at 4885mm in length), aero is impressive at cD 0.299.
Nissan Altima On The Road
Nissan equips the Altima with the common independent front/multi-link rear suspension design. As well, there’s ‘Active Understeer Control’ – a system which brakes the inside front wheel under hard cornering and which was once exclusive to more expensive European vehicles.
The result is a slick combination which did a good job over our high-speed mountain roads test loop. It’s no Nissan GT-R but the Altima is one of the better mid-sizers in the twisty stuff with precision and poise which will surprise even enthusiastic drivers.
Refinement also scored big during our week with the Nissan Altima – that 2.5-litre four-cylinder delivers plenty of poke when called upon but noise levels were never intrusive.
And here’s the thing for family buyers – the CarShowRoom.com.au juniors had an ‘Away Game’ for baseball. The Nissan Altima not only handled our two plus one and all of their accoutrements, it also got us up into the mountains (fully loaded) with aplomb…and that’s what buyers demand of mid-size sedans.
Nissan Altima Issues
We drove the Nissan Altima at the same time as we drove the all-new Nissan X-TRAIL SUV and while the Altima’s CVT is better than some, we must say the seven-step CVT in the X-TRAIL is much better.
And there’s no excuse for the ST model we tested being devoid of a reversing camera.
Nissan Altima Verdict
Once again we find ourselves at loggerheads with some our automotive media colleagues – in this case, those who have criticized the Nissan Altima’s styling. Clearly some folk who’ve never actually styled a car fancy themselves with crayons!
Nissan Altima is no Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG in the looks department but it is a thoroughly modern mid-size sedan with the current Nissan family look at the front and a sophisticated rear-end which leave some in this segment looking dowdy to say the least.
Then there’s the chassis and we must say the Altima certainly wipes the floor with the previous Maxima. Where the V6 Maxima was ponderous, the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder Altima we drove this week hit the sweetspot in terms of balance and agility.
And family buyers will be impressed by the interior space.
Nissan Altima The Competition
Here’s where the task gets difficult for the all-new Nissan Altima – the focus in this segment means there are lots of tasty choices.
The two CarShowRoom.com.au Favourites are Ford Mondeo and the Mazda6.
Ford Europe’s Cologne head office has wheeled-out some brilliant cars and the Mondeo is certainly in that batch. European styling, European driving dynamics and a wide selection of models make the Mondeo the star mid-sizer. Even the entry-grade LX hatchback ($31,490) feels great inside and driving dynamics are top-notch.
A similar story for Mazda6 – in many eyes the best-looker in this league. All that SkyActive technology means the drivetrains and suspensions score top points and Mazda Australia has the pricing very sharp with entry-grade Sport sedan loaded with plenty of kit and stickered at $33,460.
And don’t forget the Koreans – the European-origin Hyundai i40 and American-origin Kia Optima are both excellent.