2010 Nissan Altima Coupe: Definition of Cool
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The No.7 top-selling vehicle in the United States sports a name that has no real definition, but the Nissan Altima, named to sound like “Ultimate,” is the definition of a hip, stylish, sporty vehicle designed to appeal to drivers who seek a personal expression of individuality.
Beginning life as a mid-size sedan in 1993, Altima is an off-shoot of the Nissan Bluebird, which debuted in 1957. The name "Altima" originally referred to a trim line of the Nissan Laurel (also based on Bluebird), which sold in Central America and the Caribbean, but it became a full-fledged member of the Nissan line when it replaced the Stanza – it was originally called the Stanza Altima. The vehicle has been a U.S.-made automobile since its inception, built in Smyrna, Tennessee from 1992 through 2004, before production was moved to Canton, Mississippi.
Now in its fourth generation, Altima has expanded its line to include the sedan, coupe and a hybrid version. The Coupe, which I tested, was first introduced in 2007 for the 2008 model year, and the 2010 version is a two-door subcompact that has a shorter wheelbase, shorter overall length and lower height than the Altima Sedan. This year’s changes and upgrades include a redesigned front-end, hood, and grille, new projector beam headlights, and standard with 17-inch x 7.5-inch 5-split-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, along with P215/55TR17 Michelin all-season tires, dubbing the 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers provided in last year’s model. The SE model has now been renamed to SR and there was a revision to the fabric and trim pieces in the interior.
Also new for this year are standard inclusion of Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control as standard equipment, formerly a $600 stand-alone option and available premium Bose audio system with a 4.3-inch color display and Nissan's next generation navigation system with a 6.5-inch color display with a 9.3GB internal hard drive. Also new for 2010 is an available red leather-appointed interior color.
My Crimson Black Metallic test ride measured a length of 180.9 inches, width of 70.7 inches and height of 55.9 inches on a wheelbase of 105.3 inches, weighing in at 3294 pounds. With a design created to stand apart from other coupes with proportional styling, the overall exterior demeanor constructed with corrosion-resistant high-strength steel, an aluminum hood and unibody construction is one of aggressive sophistication coupled to a sports car personality.
The sports persona is backed up with either a 175-hp 2.5-liter I-4 or 270-hp 3.5-liter electronic direct ignition V-6. The larger power plant also provides 258 lbs-ft of torque. The smaller power plant is EPA rated at 23/31 and the larger engine is rated at 18/27. A week of city and highway touring yielded an average of 22mpg for my test 3.5.
On the track, the automatic kicked in, torque-steered out and galloped to a best zero to 60mpg run in 6.5 seconds, while the test car’s best quarter-mile was accomplished in and 15.1.
Power rack-and-pinion steering demonstrates fluid turning, and handling is Coupelike true with only slight understeer, very little yaw and virtually no top wobble, taking S-curves with aplomb as the power train offers up desired acceleration in all ranges with little hesitation.
In the cockpit, the Altima Coupe is a bit cramped, as are most Coupes and there is a slight over-use of interior plastic, but the easy-to-use touchscreen display, all-black dash and intuitive center stack is refined and functional.
Interior measurements are 35.6 inches of headroom, 34.4 inches of legroom and 52.4 inches of shoulder room for driver and co-pilot. Perforated leather, heated seats with 8-way power and lumbar, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, manual tilt/telescopic column and cruise control make for an enjoyable driving experience. Also inside are a 7-speaker BOSE AM/FM/AUX system with speed-sensitive volume control, USB port with iPod connectivity, radio data system and XM Satellite radio. Fine vision illumination gauges include speedometer, tach, coolant temperature and fuel level.
Safety is achieved inside and out. The Altima Coupe’s safety structure includes an energy-absorbing steering column, front and rear crumple zones, hood buckling creases and safety stops, rear crumple zones, knee bolsters, slide-away brake pedal assembly, break-away rear engine mount, high-strength side door guard beams and body side reinforcements. Standard active safety items include anti-lock braking system, vehicle dynamic control, traction control system, tire pressure monitoring system, Nissan Advanced Air Bag System with dual-stage supplemental front air bags, seat belt and occupant classification sensors, front seat-mounted side impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags for outboard occupant head protection and front head restraints.
Priced at $30,100 though some invoices are tagged at $27,888, my test Coupe was upgraded with a leather package for $1787, technology package for $1543, the 3.5SR premium package for $1232, rear spoiler for $371 and moonroof wind deflector for $71. Adding destination charges of $750 brought the sticker to $33,642, but rebates available for $1500 and dealer incentives can bring this vehicle as tested home under $32,000.
The 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe is easy to define: Cool, stylish and performance-strong.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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