2009 Nissan Altima Coupe

Dear Altima,

Last week I was quite harsh, essentially calling you out as a weak, overpriced poseur. Well, I had a chance to push you today on dry, completely empty roads (the best part of Christmas for a Jewish person, aside from the Chinese food), and while I don't retract any of my statements, I am willing to look at you with a bit more of a glass-half-full attitude.

Yes, your VQ engine is dated and noisy, but it rises to the challenge when the rpms rise, providing power in second gear that no other mid-size sedan can match. Your manual transmission isn't as good as what I'd find in an Accord coupe, but at least you offer one - that's a growing rarity in the segment (save the aforementioned Accord). And, as I said before, you are beautiful.

For next Christmas, tell Nissan engineers you want stiffer front struts; wider, stickier front tires; and a thicker rear antiroll bar. That should largely cure your annoying axle hop and torque steer, and it might make you less likely to plow nose-first through fast turns. You still won't be the stripped-down G37 your exterior promises, but you'll be able to shock the hell out of some Mustangs.

I'll look forward to that.



P.S. What are your plans for Easter?

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