Home > Reviews > 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe

Nissan Puts The Accord Coupe In Its Crosshairs

     Nissan recently launched its revised 2007 Altima sedan complete with the requisite Hybrid model to generally positive reviews. While we haven’t driven the latest iteration of the family hauler we expect it to continue being the slightly sportier, less frumpy alternative to the Camry and Accord that it has always been. But Nissan is no longer content with simply fighting for the family sedan buyer; it wants to offer something for what it calls “typically younger, more performance-oriented coupe buyers.” And after driving it, the Camry Solara and Accord Coupe better hit the gym and get down to fighting weight because the all-new 2008 Altima Coupe offers credible performance in a body almost as sexy as the big brother Infiniti G37.
     We think it’s that Infiniti-esque look on the cheap that’ll get most buyers to inquire about a test drive. Compared to the over styled competition Nissan designers have blessed the Altima with clean flanks, a sporty greenhouse, graceful rear fenders and a traditional dual exhaust. Compared to the sedan the new coupe is a significant 2.5” shorter in height, leading to the attractive long and low coupe styling that should win Nissan a lot of customers. The 17” alloy wheels on our top-line 3.5 SE model look superb, although this day and age 18” wheels should at least be an option. Our Super Black test car succeeded at looking more expensive than it really is, which to style conscious coupe buyers is half the battle.
     The Altima’s weak spot had been its interior materials but that seems to be less and less the case these days and this new coupe cockpit looks pretty good to our eyes. An all-black interior is a challenge to spice up but the use of metal accents does a good job keeping things looking sporty and upscale. The big 4-spoke steering wheel draws some criticism for clashing with the sporting theme of the car. A nice 3-spoke wheel would be more in tune with the car’s mission. The stereo and climate controls are easy to operate and the black leather bucket seats are commendably well-bolstered. We like the deep cupholders and center console storage space and the easy-access hand brake, although it could be finished a little nicer. Back seat room isn’t bad but most coupe shoppers don’t have regular passengers anyway. More useful to coupe drivers are the folding back seats that will expand the small 7.4 cubic foot trunk.
     Nissan’s excellent 3.5-liter all aluminum V6 has been updated for the Altima and now offers 270 hp at 6,000 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Those healthy outputs mean the 3,205-pound coupe can post strong acceleration numbers. Running the standard 6-speed manual through the gears makes staying in the power range easy enough, but the soft clutch and slightly vague gates don’t return as much driving excitement as we hoped for, although smooth shifting is effortless. We were able to click off 60 mph in 6 seconds flat and drop the quarter mile in 14.6 seconds at 98.6 mph. Those are respectable class results in anyone’s book. The EPA says the car will return 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, unfortunately Nissan recommends premium fuel for the V6.
     Both 2.5 and 3.5 models share the same braking hardware with 11.7” discs up front and 11.5” solid discs in the back. Matched with standard electronic brake force distribution the middle pedal is not sports car firm, but completely responsive and more than adequate for target buyers. In our testing the Altima erased 60 mph in 126 feet. Both models share the same steering tuning too, which is par for the class. You shouldn’t expect Infiniti G37 driving dynamics on the cheap. After all, this is a front-wheel drive car with 63% of its weight on the front axle.
     We drove our example over a variety of roads and enjoyed its controlled ride, strong stereo, good looks and shift for yourself simplicity. Our early production example didn’t have a window sticker, but we figure equipped with the Premium Package as ours was, the as-tested price would be flirting with the $30,000 mark. Nissan’s 2008 Altima Coupe leaves the staid Camry Solara in the dust without breaking a sweat and would be a great match for the still strong Accord coupe. Sounds like a comparison test is in order. In the meantime we have good news for shoppers who aren’t quite in Nissan’s luxury brand price range yet. That new good-looking coupe on the showroom floor isn’t an Infiniti.

The Good:
Attractive coupe body, standard six-speed manual, comfortable seats, Bluetooth and under $30k.
The Bad:
Ugly steering wheel, wants premium fuel, Honda still has the better transmission, small trunk.
The Verdict:
Nissan wants some of the sport coupe pie, and we think they’re going to cut out a good size piece.
Categories: Reviews Tags: , , , , ,
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.