Significance: Nissan has been chasing Toyota and Honda in this segment since the beginning of time. They’ve finally gotten serious. The new sedan is far better than the last model, and a fuel-sipping hybrid is even available. This coupe expands the line-up further and provides a middle ground for those who think the 350Z is too aggresive but can’t afford an Infiniti G35. And did we mention that it looks great?
“Everybody else has one!” Whether it’s a BB gun, a PlayStation, or a two-door version of a mid-size family car, the argument that so often prevails with parents seems to be just as effective with major automakers.
Honda and Toyota sell coupe versions of the Accord and the Camry (although Toyota obfuscates that by calling theirs the Solara), so naturally Nissan is adding a two-door variant to its new Altima lineup. Shorter and shapelier than the four-door Altima, the coupe will use the same 2.5-liter four and 3.5-liter V-6 engines, either of which can be paired with a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT. The car arrives this summer as a 2008 model.
Nissan contrasts the two-door Altima’s coupelike profile with the more sedanish two-doors from Toyota and Honda. But Nissan really is hoping that the Altima coupe will perform like its competitors, in that it will give Nissan’s mainstream mid-size car the sales boost it needs to put it on par with the Accord and the Camry, whose two-door versions bolster sales by roughly 25 percent. You can see why Nissan would want that, too.