2008 Nissan Altima Coupe Review / Road Test

Take the Altima Coupe to the beach

Flat-out best back end on any midsize coupe belongs to the Nissan Altima. Flat-out, its engine is too noisy.

Tinged by love and a certain degree of dissatisfaction with the 2008 front-wheel-drive Altima coupe, I soldiered on for a week desperately trying to find bits of it I loved as much as that gorgeously proportioned and downright sexy rear end.

So I also loved the back end of the Volvo C70 convertible. Mmmmm, really loved it, permit me a minute to slip into a bubble bath and reminisce. And I adored the Nissan's for much the same reason: Its tapered, clean lines that follow from the car's front cone to the tail-lights and then meet in an invisible arc across the trunk lid (which, like the Volvo drop-top's, is not as high as most coupes on today's market). Simply gorgeous. Simply the best thing about this car.

Simply the worst was the rasping engine noise, a good proportion of blame for which resides with the cabin-insulation and frequency-modulation people. Maybe it's also because of the car's front-loaded set-up, which we'll get to in a moment. With a bit of concentration, you can emit that sound - and you'll know the one I mean when you hear it - all the way through the car's gears. It really numbs the effect of Nissan's gorgeously silky continuously variable transmission system.

Impacting grille

Sporty front-end

Much different from the splendid - and I mean splendid - Infiniti G37 coupe I'm ragging about this week, I expected the much-hyped first-generation coupe to deliver more, much more, in terms of performance, handling, road feel and maneuverability. Merely looking like its more refined G37 stablemate isn't quite enough for this reviewer.

And I so wanted it to be great, because my wife drives an older-model Nissan coupe and I would drive a Nissan  too, if that Eighties-vintage minitruck I bought to fix up wasn't currently out of commission.

This coupe's  quick, with 0-60mph time of 6 seconds, which is about right for a  coupe in today's market. Its V6 will push out 270 horses at 6,000 rpm and 258lb-foot of torque at 4,400rpm, but it won't jump out of the gate like a Chevy Cobalt SS we tested some months back, or a Civic Si we also rather enjoyed. It'll lose out to both on ride, too, as it wasn't tightly sprung enough for me in a market segment that demands performance motoring.

Looks-wise, the front leaves a bit to be desired. Its nose is too bulbous for me and I've never been a fan of that huge Nissan insignia the company has seen fit to plaster across its entire range.

My neighbor, a technical writer for Honda, loved it though. I had to converse with his two-year-old daughter about it as he sat with her on the steps outside the house, after he'd complimented the car's looks. "Daddy likes it," she said, or something like that. "Daddy likes Hondas," I corrected. "Daddy drives faster than you," she burbled, fixing me with that stare only a two-year-old could. Gerd-dam, I thought, outwitted by a two-year-old again. 

Safety is good across the Altima range (the coupe packs six airbags, ABS and all the other dibbings), gas is very good at an average of near 28 mpg combined on town and highway and it'll set you back a shade under $25,000 for the upscale variant.

Great lines to the back

Functional if underwhelming interior

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