Very mixed feelings about this car. On the one hand, it’s hard not to really like something this pretty – it’s a convincing Infiniti G37 knockoff – and this quick. And believe me, it is quick. The six-speed manual transmission is well worth the $2330, as it wakes up the ol’ VQ and turns a well-mannered family car into a snorting, rorting beast capable of some very impressive second-gear pulls. There’s more cause for celebration inside, where, despite some tacky faux leather and brushed aluminum trim, this Altima SR is far more mature than its predecessors. The small color screen on the non-navigation-equipped stereo unit is also a nice touch.
On the other hand, this Altima is noisy, unrefined, and still handles like an overpowered front-wheel-drive family car. That’s despite the fact that its suspension is tuned so firm that it rattles interior panels over potholes. And though $30,320 is a good deal cheaper than the real-deal G37, it’s quite a bit more expensive than similarly equipped, V-6 versions of the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Hyundai Genesis.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I also have mixed feelings about this car. I’m less enthralled with the exterior – the Altima front end does nothing for me – but it strikes a nice profile. The big pluses for me are the gorgeous interior, the excellent Bose stereo, and the 270 horses.
I don’t know how this car measures with a stopwatch, but it FEELS plenty fast. The engine with the 6-speed stick is a great combination, but it’s a crime to have to pay more than two grand for the pleasure. The car does well from a stoplight and even better at highway speeds where there is ample power for merging and passing effortlessly.
The ride didn’t bother me at all. IT was firm, but I didn’t find it punishing.
The interior is nicely styled and the finishes are 99% gorgeous. The strange, not-quite faux brushed metal compartment in the center tower is the one sore spot. The rest of this interior absolutely blows away anything coming from Toyota. The door panels and trim, the top of the dash, all very nice to the eye and to the touch.
The stereo and climate controls are attractive and very clear and easy to use. I do think the volume control on the wheel should switch spots with the skip/back control.
The red leather seats better on the eyes than the back. They are not supportive enough, especially in the lumbar area. This alone would keep me from buying the car – it’s that bothersome to me.
I’d also agree that at the $30,000 mark, there are nicer cars for the same money, and comparable ones for much less.
Matt Tierney, Art Director
My colleagues have mixed feelings about the Nissan Altima Coupe and I know why: this car falls far short of the standards one would expect in 2010 from a $30,000 vehicle. I have one thing to say: Volkswagen GTI, my friends. A car that’s available for less money and is twice as refined, twice as well-tuned, and twice as fun to drive as this Nissan.
The main things the Altima coupe has going for it are its exterior styling, which is indeed reminiscent of Infiniti; and its powerful V-6 engine. But the Altima coupe is not worthy of that fine engine. The chassis is soggy, the steering is a mess, the body control is mediocre. Do you get the picture? The Nissan Altima coupe is a great dynamic disappointment. I was shocked by our car’s sticker price, even though it had the V-6, and I almost fainted to see that the manual gearbox – nothing to crow about – costs $2330. You have got to be kidding me.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The exterior design is the Altima coupe’s most positive attribute. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the car’s downfalls, because there are packaging compromises that are inherent in any coupe. The sloping roof line means that the trunk is smaller and shallower than what you’d find in a sedan. Luckily, the rear seat folds down, but access to the rear to reach the release button can only be described as difficult. I’m not a large person [Amy’s the size of an elf -Ed.] and I found it incredibly awkward trying to maneuver myself so that I could perform the seat-lowering operation. I could only live with those compromises if this were a true sports car, but the Altima coupe is definitely not. Its engine, while producing plenty of power, is mated to a six-speed manual transmission that is marred by notchy throws and a too-stiff clutch. The red leather seats are, to my eyes, gaudy and out-of-place in an otherwise nicely designed interior.
The Altima coupe may seem like a less expensive alternative to the Infiniti G37 coupe, but in this case, you get what you pay (or don’t pay) for.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Yes, the latest Volkswagen GTI is indeed a good benchmark for budget performance cars, but each time I look at the Altima Coupe — and its $30,000-something price tag — I’m prompted to cross-shop Nissan’s own portfolio. For virtually the same amount of money, I can pick up a 2011 370Z — a car that looks just as good, provides just as much power, handles delectably, and still manages to excite the boy racer inside. This looks like a no-brainer, right?
Perhaps so — unless you have a need for more than two seats. There are buyers who would like a sporty GT that still offers a usable back seat for kids, groceries, and other cargo. In this regards, the Altima Coupe and Honda’s two-door Accord are the only true contenders (unless you lump the V-6-powered muscle cars from Ford, Dodge, and Chevy into the mix).
Of those two, the Nissan appeals to the driver with a little more power, sharper handling, and grabby brakes, but the Honda wins the family-friendly title with a bigger trunk, a larger rear seat, and thanks to a less rakish roofline, much more headroom for those relegated to the second row of seats.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
I’m not on the fence, either — I’m with Joe DeMatio, and I don’t get this car at all. It looks like it’s supposed to be sporty, but it doesn’t deliver in any way, shape, or form. Sure, it’s fast as the Dickens, but it ends there. The VQ is well muted (thank God you aren’t assaulted with the NVH from that old thing) but so is the steering (unless you count torque steer), the clutch, the ropy shifter, and the nonlinear throttle pedal. Each of the primary controls feels as though it’s connected to somebody else’s car.
Oh, and body control? Not so much. The last time I saw a front end lift like this was a (rear-wheel drive) 1985 Mercedes 380SL. No wonder the Altima spins its front tires so easily off the line; it’s trying to do a wheelie!
I had the displeasure of doing a few laps on an autocross course in the Altima Coupe. Let’s just say “messy.”
I love the backup camera (a virtual necessity with modern, high-silled cars), but the sunroof causes far too much wind buffeting, and the trunk is small, with the load floor high enough that a large suitcase barely fits.
Seriously, I just don’t get it. Why would you ever choose this over the sedan? If you want a coupe, get a 370Z or an Infiniti G37.
Jason Cammisa, West Coast Editor
2010 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SR
Base price (with destination): $30,320
Price as tested: $30,495
3.5-liter V-6 engine
18-inch alloy wheels
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Traction and stability control system (ESP)
Vehicle dynamic control
Tire pressure monitoring system
8-way driver power seat
Leather seating surfaces
Heated front seats
Leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls
Leather-wrapped shift knob
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Bose AM/FM audio system with 7 speakers
XM satellite radio
USB port with iPod connectivity
MP3/WMA playback compatibility
4.3-inch color display
Dual zone automatic climate control
Nissan “Intelligent Key” keyless access
Power sliding moonroof with sunshade
Auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass
Options on this vehicle:
6-speed manual transmission — $2330
Floor & trunk mat set — $175
Key options not on vehicle:
Technology package — $1780
Rear spoiler — $460
18 / 27 / 21 mpg
Size: 3.5L V-6
Horsepower: 270 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Curb weight: 3294 lb
18-inch alloy wheels
235/45R-18 Michelin Pilot all-season tires
Competitors: Honda Accord Coupe