While the exterior and exterior has received many upgrades this year, our test model was equipped with the same middle-of-the-road 2.5-liter, 175-hp and 180 lb-ft engine that was used last year. The engine used in the Nissan does not compare to any of the RWD coupes in terms of horsepower. The Genesis Coupe produces 200-hp and the same base-price V6 Camaro outs out over 300 hp. Even the Accord Coupe, still puts out an additional 15 horsepower.
If you are not a speed-freak, then there is an upside to the Nissan’s engine. It still has plenty of power for day-to-day driving and returns better gas mileage than all of the before mentioned coupe’s. Expect 26 MPG with mixed driving and the CVT transmission. The Altima Coupe’s mileage trumps the combined EPA average of the Genesis Coupe (22 MPG) and Honda Accord (25 MPG.) Drivers looking for more oomph should upgrade to the 3.5-liter SR (renamed from last year’s SE) that produces a respectable 270-hp.
The Continuously Variable Transmission equipped on our test model is smooth and does a great job of putting the 4-cylinders power to the wheels. The best part about the transmission is you forget it’s there. The transmission keeps the rev’s low, which keeps the engine quiet and the gas mileage high. Unfortunately, when you need quick acceleration the transmission is a little slow to respond. As you accelerate the engine will drone on at a continuous 5,000 RPM. This is unavoidable with CVT’s and is one of the reasons a CVT transmission produces better fuel economy than a standard automatic transmission.
Steering feel is stellar due to the vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering. At lower speeds, the steering is far more responsive and at freeway speeds it is calm and composed. The changes to the steering is seamless and feels natural. Unfortunately, during spirited driving the steering can feel a little numb.
Handling is good for a FWD car, and body roll is fairly minimal. The suspension is by no means stiff and is comfortable around town. On bad roads the Altima Coupe never feels jarring or rough. If anything the suspension could be stiffer on the 4-cylinder. The V6 SR model has a slightly stiffer suspension setup.
As you approach the limit, understeer begins to creep in, but it’s not excessive. Torque steer is almost non-existent thanks to equal length half-shafts and the low horsepower output. The Altima cannot match a RWD coupe in the turns, but for people that spend more time in town than in the canyons, the Altima is the better choice around town. The Altima Coupe is a wonderful car to drive daily thanks to its great visibility and compact size, something that cannot be said for the Camaro.
When wheel spin does occur, the Traction Control System (TCS) and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) will kick in. This year TCS and VDC is standard on the Altima Coupe, last year it was was a $600 option. Other safety options include dual-stage front airbags, side impact airbags and roof-mounted side impact bags for extra head protection.
With a number of improvements made this year, the Nissan Altima Coupe is better than ever. It is not as powerful as its competition, but the Nissan is a competent and comfortable car. If a gas sucking pony car is not for you then the Altima Coupe is a compelling option. It looks great, is pleasant to drive and burns less gas than its competition. Priced at $22,940 base, it’s an attractive option for people that don’t want nor need four doors.
|The official site for Nissan cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers and hybrids – www.nissanusa.com|
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