NEWS

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe: Meh

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Two of Cars.com’s 20-something car buffs spent some time in the new Nissan Altima coupe and offer insight into how it performs for their demographic. Multimedia producer Eric Rossi and assistant editor Joe Bruzek have both driven test cars on tracks, but they’re more concerned with how they hold up on the street. Below, they rank the two-door Altima on these merits, on the scale outlined here.

Scale: Fail, Meh, Win, Epic Win

How does it look?

Joe Bruzek: Win — Despite being an Altima from birth, the coupe definitely has a healthy dose of sporty good looks, with a sleek roofline and aggressive rear styling that isn’t shared with the somewhat-boring sedan. I was digging the wheel design and size, but in my opinion there was way too much unsightly gap between the wheel and fenders. Was this a prototype four-wheel-drive Altima coupe?

Eric Rossi: Win — I think Nissan nailed the styling of this coupe. It looks more like an Infiniti G37 coupe more than it does the Altima sedan, which is a very good thing. The wheel gap was never really an issue for me. I only noticed it after Joe pointed it out to me. Thanks again, Joe. I guess I was too distracted by those good-looking 17-inch wheels. 

How does it perform?

JB: Meh — The sporty good looks didn’t translate into that sporty of a car. Maybe it was because I had “baby 350Z” on my mind when first looking at the Altima coupe. The manual transmission’s shifter would have been more at home in an entry-level Sentra than a powerful coupe. But it’s acceptable, I guess, being that it is an Altima, after all. 

ER: Win — I was a little let down the first time I got behind the wheel. I was also expecting some of the 350Z’s DNA to have made its way into the coupe, but it didn’t. The engine had plenty of power, but the transmission’s shifter sat up way too high. The exhaust note was a letdown, too. You had to really get on it to hear anything. So why did I give it a Win? It didn’t live up to my expectations, but in the end, this thing still moves out with 270 horsepower. 

Damage on the wallet?

JB: Fail — Our tester stickered at $30,000, which puts it right in line with a base 350Z. While the practical side of me would choose the Altima because it’s front-wheel drive, technically has room for five and can be driven year-round, I’ve suppressed that whiny “practical” reasoning enough times before to know I’d gladly choose the sporty looking and performing 350Z instead. 

ER: Fail — The Altima is a fair compromise of performance and function, but I can’t justify the $30,000 price tag. I’ll be right behind you in that line for a base 350Z and call a cab when it snows. As a former 350Z owner, I have done it before. 

Overall: Meh

 

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