There's a new standard for small 2 + 2 sport coupes. It's called the Nissan NX 2000. This car has it all: terrific performance, awesome handling, great styling, superb quality and a sensible price that delivers value for your money. There are so many small sporty cars on the market that it is hard to keep track of them all. If this is the type of car you like, remember the Nissan NX 2000.It must be on your list of cars to test drive. ENGINE, PERFORMANCE The NX 2000 has a lion's heart of an engine, a 2.0-liter, 140-horsepower, fuel-injected four cylinder that can be safely revved to 7,500 rpm. The 2000 has a smaller (that's less expensive) brother called the NX 1600. However, the 2000 was born to run. Many DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder engines are a bit flat from a standstill and don't really get cranking until about 3,500 rpm. That's not the case with the NX 2000. It pulls strongly right from the start, and it feels like it has a lot of torque. Nissan says the 2000 develops 130 pounds-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. Even when driven aggressively, the NX 2000 delivered close to 32 miles per gallon on the highway and 23 mpg in the city - and that was using the air conditioner. The test car came with a five-speed manual transmission. The clutch moved smoothly and was easy to use. The gear shifter clicked nicely as it slotted into each gear. The shift quadrant is tight, but even when shifting fast, you aren't likely to miss a gear. And now for the number: Road & Track magazine says the NX 2000 will go from 0 to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. STEERING, HANDLING Nissan has a passion for getting the handling and suspension systems in its car and trucks just right. So don't be surprised if you slide behind the wheel and find you can perform some gymnastics in the NX 2000. The front suspension consists of McPherson struts, transverse links and a stabilizer bar. The rear suspension is also independent, and it has parallel links and two stabilizer bars. In severe road conditions, the NX 2000 held steady, handled brilliantly, and never lost its composure. The ride is a bit on the stiff side, best described as sporty. The power rack and pinion steering is tight. Twitch the wheel for an instant change in direction. The steering also takes a bit of muscle. Nissan engineers gave it a slightly heavy feel in order to convey to the driver a certain amount of feedback from the road. The brakes - four-wheel disc with ABS - worked well, but I think they could be made stronger. High-performance cars should have extra-high-performance brakes. FIT, FINISH, CONTROLS Here's where the NX 2000 really pulls away from the pack. It is nicely equipped, and it is nearly perfectly built. The test car came with a novel feature for a car of its type: removable glass T-tops, a $900 option. The tops are held in place by a spring-loaded lock. They can be rem oved in a matter of seconds. The test car did not have power windows or doorlocks, but because it is a small vehicle, it was no bother to reach over and carry out both functions manually. There is a decent amount of cargo room in the hatchback area. Rear-seat passengers are likely to find it a tight squeeze. The design and layout of the dash, the feel of the switches, and the placement of the controls for the air conditioning, radio and other items all demonstrated Nissan's carefully honed talent for creating pleasing interiors. NX 2000's styling is unique with its oval headlights. I think it is wonderful. With so many small cars that look alike, the NX 2000has some real individuality. Dollar for dollar, the NX 2000 gets my vote as the best car in Nissan's entire lineup.
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