NICOclub.com Drives and Evaluates the 2008 Altima Coupe
While our Associate Test Drive Editor was in Smyrna, Tennessee at the new Nissan plant, he was given the EXCLUSIVE opportunity to drive the unreleased Altima Coupe (scheduled for introduction in 2008). Of course, we couldn’t wait to get his review to you, as we’re eagerly awaiting its release.
“When I was invited to drive the new Altima Coupe at Nissan’s Test Track, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. The car I drove was equipped with the CVT, and before the ride was over, I had it over 100 mph on their closed circuit race track.
Let’s say this first:In person, the first impression is “Infiniti”. It looks like a Nissan-badged G35 Coupe had a love child with an Altima.The rear end styling is simply breathtaking, and pictures don’t do it justice.The styling works so well, and the lines really “pop” when you see it in three dimensions.
The one that I drove was a “prototype engineering test evaluation vehicle”. This means that it is a test vehicle built on the production tooling, but this car didn’t have 100% production-ready interior surfaces. However, I will say this for the interior: This car could be badged as an Infiniti easily. It’s THAT nice.
On to the driving experience… As soon as you hit the “start” button, there is no doubt in your mind what engine sits under the hood.The venerable VQ35’s sweet melody is familiar and satisfying, and there’s a good reason this engine has been on the “Top Ten Best Engines” list for twelve years running.
Leaving the parking lot, I immediately noticed that the steering feels fluid and linear. Its feel resembles that of the 2006 350z, but a little easier due to the slightly larger-diameter steering wheel. The lateral stability of this car is surprising, and I did not expect the suspension tune to be so sporty. This made me anxious to hit the track.
The real test drive started at a dead stop with about a little over a quarter mile of straight track ahead. At the end of that straight road is a highly banked curve approximately a 20 to 25% gradient. I hit the gas, the traction control kicks in, the car takes position and we’re off. There is a little torque steer initially, but after about 20 to 25 mph, it is dead center. The CVT is what I was not ready for. After the engine hit 6,200rpm, it stayed there. I was going faster and faster with the transmission sitting right in the thick of the VQ’s powerband. Imagine first gear never ending, you never stop accelerating, and the engine never over-revs.Phenomenal.
Hitting 105 mph, it was an oh-so-beautiful thing. The curve coming up quickly, I transition firmly onto the brakes, and the car immediately slows by 30 mph so as to enter the banked turn at about 75. I hold the throttle down about halfway to keep the car steadily aimed toward the apex and there is no upsetting the stability of this vehicle. I hit the apex and the gas, before you know it… you are back to triple digits. I had to remind myself that I am driving a pre-production Altima with a factory suspension tune and think to myself… “did I really just do that?” Of course, I did it again, and again.
When this car hits the streets, there is NO doubt in my mind that it will be widely embraced by anyone that either likes the way it looks, as well as anyone who gets in and drives it.
Highs: A driving experience that makes you want to do it again, and again, and again.
Lows: It’s not out yet.
Verdict: A front wheel drive G35 coupe. Seriously. This car is legit, and Nissan has hit a home run with the Altima Coupe.
Final “kicker” of the trip? The Nissan-plant rumor mill has it that an SE-R version of the Altima Coupe is already in the works before the production model has even hit showrooms.
Simmsled is a NICOclub Moderator in the Audio and Electronics Forums.