2008 Nissan Altima Coupe First Drive

You may be wondering why Nissan is bothering to launch a new car (the Altima coupe) into the auto market when they are already doing so well. The warranty claim rate on Nissan vehicles has dropped 60% in the past two years. The company hopes to launch a 3-liter, Nissan-original hybrid that gets 100 km (or 78 mpg) by 2010 as part of the Nissan Green Program. A purely electric car is also expected within the next decade, and a Maxima diesel engine by 2020. So the question remains, with all of the great news coming out of Nissan, “The Altima coupe: Why now?”


I first saw the Altima coupe at a 2006 LA Auto Show event, did a double take, wondering, “What Nissan vehicle IS that?! and “When does this hit the market?”, seeing that I would soon be interested in purchasing a new car. However, as time progressed, I became a bit skeptical about the coupe, since the car was, and is, being marketing to my demographic, the “younger males and females in their late 20s, up-and-coming professionals.” However, after getting some seat time in the Altima Coupe, I was pleasantly surprised.

There are two model options, the V6 and the 4-cylinder, (both with standard dual exhaust), and I was lucky enough to get to drive both. The V6 and 4-cylinder Altima Coupe are available with a 6-speed manual transmission or a Xtronix CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmission). Available models are the 2.5 S 6-speed manual tranny, the 2.5 S CVT, the 3.5 SE 6 speed, and the 3.5 SE CVT. The V6 Coupes come with 17” aluminum-alloy wheels with 215/55R17 tires and the 4-cylinder Coupes come with 16” wheels and tires. The Altima Coupe also comes with standard traction control systems. Oh, and by the way, just like some of the high-end luxury vehicles out there, the Altima Coupe comes with a push button ignition.

This front wheel drive coupe, built on the all-new rigid Nissan “D” platform, comes with a 20-gallon fuel tank, which could be problematic if you are interested in the V6 3.5 SE because premium gas is recommended. The 3.5-liter, for its 270hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, gets 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway in the manual and automatic. The 4-cylindar 2.5S luckily takes regular gas, and its mileage is at 23 mpg city/32 mpg highway in the manual and 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway in the automatic. The Altima Coupe proved to be quick to the punch when accelerating and you felt confident with its sport-tuned suspension and rigid chassis. It also handled turns at speed decently, but we found that we had to oversteer to push through the corners.

Interior perks include the kangaroo pouch on the front sear cushion, good for squirreling away loose odds and ends, almost absurdly large vanity mirrors, and a 60/40 split and flat fold down rear seat. More notably, the Altima coupe comes with extra touches of class with the I-Key (again, the Push Button Ignition), and a variety of other choices in the Comprehensive Option Package: touch-screen navi RearView Monitor (a 6.5” color monitor), a 9-speaker Bose-development audio system, a power-sliding glass moonroof, and Bluetooth hands-free phone system. Sport bucket seats, numerous cubbies, and dual climate control bring the coupe’s sportiness and functionality together.


The Altima Coupe is a great choice for someone who wants the G35 coupe but can’t afford it or someone is looking at the 350Z but needs a backseat and a less sportiness. Price is affordable: $20,450 base and around $31,000 (V6 engine) for fully loaded. For all of those that think the Altima Coupe is just the Altima Sedan minus two doors, they are quite wrong. Length-wise, it is 7.1 inches less than the sedan and height-wise it is 4.0 shorter than the sedan. The only major body panel they share is the hood. The Altima Coupe also comes in two colors that the Altima Sedan does not: Code Red and Metallic Blue.

Overall, I would have to agree with the Nissan folks and say that this coupe is the perfect car for the young professional who is loving life, always on the move and free of constraints like kids. The Altima Coupe is speedy, stylish, sporty and powerful enough to break the boredom of point A to point B driving. The variety of transmission options also means that there will be a fit for ever driver, from the manual transmission lover to those that like to just put it in drive and go.

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