Interior quality and styling also illustrates the continuity between coupe and sedan. Drivers familiar with the archetypal Accord's clear gauges and near-perfect ergonomics will have no trouble adjusting to the Accord coupe's; the same, familiar feeling fills the Altima coupe's cabin, aside from our model's kickin' red leather seats, a clear departure from the beige mainstream. Our sole nit to pick with the Accord's interior was its outdated navigation interface, and copy editor Rusty Blackwell wondered "what year is it again?" upon discovering its trunk-mounted CD changer. Art director Matt Tierney summed up most editors' feelings about the Altima's handsome interior, which he described as having "finishes [that] are 99 percent gorgeous," marred only by "the strange, not-quite faux brushed metal compartment in the center stack." Interior space in the Altima coupe is notably less generous than in the sedan, whereas the difference was less dramatic in the Accord coupe.
Under the skin, the differences between the coupes start to become more distinct. Although the two powertrains are remarkably similar -- both engines displace 3.5 liters and produce in the neighborhood of 270 horsepower -- the differences between them become apparent once you step on the gas. The Altima's slightly torquier VQ-derived V-6 emits a coarse growl, while the Accord's smooth power delivery is the antithesis to the Nissan's caterwaul howl.
Unlike their V-6 sedan counterparts, both coupes offer six-speed manual transmissions. The no-cost manual in the Accord coupe is a repeat performance of the familiar, silky Honda gearbox; smooth, short shifts demonstrate the éclat of the Accord's engineering. By contrast, the Altima's engine histrionics carry over to its six-speed manual (a $2330 option), which feels balky and disconnected, with vague throws. Although manuals are usually sacrosanct in stirring our enthusiast souls, the Altima's standard continuously variable transmission is the smoother choice in this application. Though neither stick shift is likely to become the majority choice among buyers, Honda and Nissan's outreach gesture to a perceived demographic of drivers who enjoy driving does not go unnoticed.