Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Altima stacks up as a sound, sporty ride

This review originally appeared in the August edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin' News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California -- I was supposed to get a four-door Porsche Panamera, but I ended up with a Nissan Altima coupe.

That’s the car-testing biz. Something happened to the Panamera at the 11th hour. Who knows what? Maybe a lead-footed test driver crashed it into San Francisco Bay. Maybe it was abducted by aliens. Doesn’t matter. I’ll review it another day.

Given the possibilities, the 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe 2.5 S as a stand-in wasn’t a bad deal. It’s sporty to be sure.

The raked back end on the tester gave it some of that Nissan Z-car pop, and in profile, the two-door Altima looked ready for high-speed duty.

Alas, the tester had the 2.5-liter in-line 4 rated at 175 horsepower. I would have much preferred the 3.5 V-6 with 270 ponies. The latter power plant is capable of cashing the check written by the Altima’s sleek bodywork.

Still, the Altima was a most-agile performer in most conditions. It was very capable in city traffic, zipping in and out of tight spots with ease. Steering was light, but firm enough for confident control. Hitting the gas going into the corners created the appropriate gusto for shaking a tailgating motorist.

The continuously variable transmission lagged somewhat on hard acceleration into tight freeway spots. It was just a touch of lag, but enough to make you want to give plenty of room to traffic approaching swiftly from the rear.

There was a surprising level of comfort to be had in the front bucket seats. The rear seats, however, are best occupied by folks with flexible bodies. Just getting in behind those front seats is a challenge if you have anything resembling adult size.

The list of standard features was pleasantly lengthy, especially for a model with an affordable $22,940 MSRP. Nice no-extra-cost features included projector-beam headlights, UV-blocking solar glass, lots of interior storage containers for a coupe and 17-inch alloy wheels. Gas mileage is fairly impressive at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

Minor gripe: The information display on the radio readout – particularly in satellite radio mode, where you actually want to know the name of the song and the artist – was way too small to see. In traffic, it’s never a good idea to lean over to center dash to see if Shocking Blue did that catchy tune in the 1960s. You’ll rear-end another car for sure doing that.

Customizers have a blank canvas with this car. Lots of possibilities on the front and back end. Me, I’d carve more room into the rear seats, but that’s a selfish fantasy.
Overall, this Altima stands for good looks and good fun. Certainly no Porsche. But then, you can say that about most cars.

1 comment:

  1. I have no interest to ride this Altima. I've a aim to buy the new Nissan Murano. Can you please make me clear about the features of this Nissan Murano?