2008 Nissan Altima launch at Autodrome
We were invited to the Middle East launch today of the 2008 Nissan Altima sedan and coupe at the Dubai Autodrome, and got to do three hot laps around the track.
The 2008 Altima sedan comes with a 175 hp 2.5-litre inline-4 and a 270 hp 3.5-litre V6, both available with either a six-speed manual or a gearless CVT transmission. Standard features include a strong a/c with rear vents, dual exhaust tips, front airbags with available side-curtain bags, keyless entry and start and a nine-speaker Bose stereo with iPod adapter. Optional features, some standard on the V6, include Bluetooth, HID headlights, 17-inch alloys, sunroof, leather and more. Navigation will be offered later. Prices start at Dhs 69,500 in Dubai, available after September 19th.
The 2008 Altima coupe will be available only with the 3.5-litre V6 when it comes to the GCC a little later. It offers options similar to the sedan, with unique styling front and rear, with “normal” tail-lights instead of the “tuner” ones on the sedan.
We drove a CVT-equipped V6 coupe at the Autodrome track, and its quiet interior did exude a touch of luxury, cabin being partly clad in beige leather and all. All upper materials are soft-touch, and the a/c is excellent, even though our car was a US-spec model, given it had a speedo in mph.
At low speeds, we noticed overly soft power steering and pedals, although we forgot about all that once we were negotiating corners at the track. Interestingly, the pace car did push the limits somewhat, so we got to wringe our car a bit while keeping up. Safe understeer crept in on most corners, but we managed a mild braking slide of the tail at the final corner of the dusty track before we were done. Front-wheel-drive cars can be fun too. But we don’t remember much details, so you’ll have to wait for our future test drive, probably in a few months time after all the magazines have had their go of the press cars.
Nissan, in conjunction with our favourite auto website AutoMiddleEast, announced that they drove the car around the track for 24 hours under FIA supervision. Without turning off the engine – but stopping for driver changes, fuel and tyres – two cars were driven for more than 2000 km each to show off their endurance. Needless to say, the cars lived on as pace cars at our track drive.
Finally, at the press conference, Mohammed Bin Sulayem was on hand to say good things about the Altima. His attempted description of how CVT transmissions work was hilarious. Good man.