– Attractive styling
– Huge interior
– Good handling
– Not as well-built as Toyota
– V6 not the most fuel-efiicient
– Slightly firm ride quality
The Nissan Altima is a mid-size family sedan which was introduced in its current form for 2002 and has been on sale in various overseas markets. The car has finally been released in the Middle East for the 2005 model year. It has a rounded, VW Passat-like shape, and looks aggressive with its pointed front end and sharp rear finishing. It definately looks way better than the segment-leading Camry and Accord. Nissan’s Altima is also bigger than the leaders inside and out. The Altima is available with two engines. One is an adequate 4-cylinder engine, while the other is a class-leading super-smooth V6 engine. The V6 model can be differentiated from the 4-cylinder ones by looking for the dual exhaust on the V6.
The Nissan has a refined interior, adding better quality materials for a more upscale feel and appearance than, say, the Maxima. The interior design includes a flashy instrument panel and centre console with most controls laid out well. The trim features a metallic look, and better seat and headliner materials are used. The steering wheels looks like it was lifted from the US-market Infiniti G35. The Altima has the option of a DVD-based navigation system which sits in the upper part of the centre console. There is a choice of cloth or leather for the interior, along with the option of an 8-speaker Bose sound system with 6-disc CD changer. The cabin is very roomy and offers excellent all-round visibility, with easily ingress and egress thanks to wide-opening doors.
Available on these Altimas is a 2.5-litre DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder producing 175 hp and 244 Nm of torque. This engine, called QR25, features a silent chain drive and a balancer system that effectively negates vibrations without taking up much space – combining ideal packaging and smoothness. This engine can be paired with a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. It offers adequate power for passing maneuvers and for safely merging with traffic.
The 3.5-litre V6 comes with a class-leading 250 hp, with a massive torque figure of 337 Nm. Nissan offers a slick 6-speed manual transmission, and a 4-speed automatic with “auto-hold” function to improve gear choices on hilly roads.The quiet and refined engine powers the car from standstill to 60 mph faster than a Porsche Boxster, if mated with a manual gearbox and a good driver. Not bad for a front-wheel-drive family hauler.
All Altimas come with ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), which optimizes rear brake performance, and Brake Assist (BA), which reduces emergency stopping distances. The V6’s power was apparent right off the bat, and its delivery is so unrestrained that one has to keep an eye on the speedo for fear of getting a ticket. Working the manual gearbox, there is a satisfying feel and slop-free action through the gates, even when driving aggressively.
The four-wheel independent suspension remains, providing handling that is better than the average Camry, but by no means making it a G35. The front suspension is a cradle-type frame with offset coil springs and transverse link while the independent multi-link suspension was adapted from the Japanese Skyline. All 4-cylinder Altimas come with 205/65R16 tires on either steel or aluminum-alloy wheels and V6 models feature standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and 215/55R17 tires. The Altima turns in quickly and precisely, the body has very little lean, and the car holds a neutral attitude that is surprisingly flat and stable for a front-wheel-drive sedan. Some people may find the suspension too stiff because there’s very little rebound or bounce over rolling undulations.
In terms of safety, the Altima offers the latest technology in occupant protection with dual airbags. Other peace-of-mind features include dual-stage front airbags that vary the force of deployment according to the severity of the impact, optional traction control (for automatic V6 models), optional antilock brakes that incorporate state-of-the-art technology and a standard LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) child seat anchor system.
Stylish, roomy and reliable, the revolutionary 2005 Nissan Altima is fairly fun to drive, and more fun to spend time in thanks to the stylish cabin.