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2008 Nissan Altima Coupe

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe: The Altima Goes Sporty
by Jessica Howell

Everybody's favorite Nissan, the perfectly mid-sized Altima sedan, has cooked up something spicy for the last half of 2007 - a new coupe. It only makes sense that the practical four-door would spawn a sporty, two-door sibling to vie for the attention of today's newest generation.

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe- FrontA clever blend of sophisticated styling and pleasurable performance, the new Altima Coupe is a car that Nissan Regional Product Manager John Curl claims to be "a coupe done right." Indeed. Hinting at its lineage with the brand's signature styling and high-tech gadgetry, the coupe is a sleeker, smaller version of the sedan, but not at all a mini replica. In fact, the only body panel that the coupe shares with its sedan counterpart is the hood.

"[It's] not just a sedan with two less doors," Curl said. This version of the Altima joins the ranks along with the recently introduced Altima Hybrid, while carving its own niche within the Nissan family.
Geared towards hip, young professionals, the coupe poses as an affordable and fun option that ensures a stylish entrance-or exit-for its occupants. At first glance, the Altima Coupe triggers thoughts of the Nissan-owned, upscale Infiniti G35 coupe. Same aggressive stance. Similar sweeping lines. Very different price range.

2008 Nissan Altima- 3/4 viewEquipped with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder (175 horsepower) engine, or Nissan's Next Generation 3.5-liter V6 (270 horsepower), the Altima Coupe scoots. For those who yearn to harness that roar completely, an Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available for both models.

Fittingly, we slid behind the wheel of the new coupe outside of Minneapolis' trendy Graves Hotel. Our goal - to easily navigate the urban jungle and open up the coupe once we reach the straightaways of Wisconsin's rolling, green countryside.
City driving proved a breeze. The responsive car spryly handled speedy starts and quick stops, gliding comfortably along the metropolitan streets. As we neared the grassy fields of Wisconsin, the coupe eagerly picked up speed, granting a ride that would elicit a grin from any throttle-happy driver, whether they shifted gears manually or with the smooth assistance of the Xtronic CVT.

2008 Nissan Altima- InteriorInside, the vehicle caters primarily to the driver as any coupe-and indulgent, self-serving vehicle-should. We see a cockpit that boasts a surprising amount of amenities including standard intelligent key (I-Key), push-button ignition, tilting and telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD six-speaker stereo with auxiliary audio input for iPods and MP3s, as well as cruise control. Also standard are oversized vanity mirrors. Why has this taken so long, we wonder. Optional in package form is a touch-screen navigation program, nine-speaker Bose audio system, Bluetooth phone system, power-sliding glass moonroof, eight-way power sliding driver's seat and a rear-view monitor that would more likely fit the needs of a large SUV than that of a 189-inch-long coupe.

Swathed in standard cloth, or optional blond or charcoal leather, the sporty front bucket seats are shaped to hold driver and passenger snugly along curvaceous roads and tight turns. Overall, they're fairly spacious, accommodating and comfortable and offer, thankfully, manual lumbar support. The back seats, split 60/40, are another story. In typical coupe-fashion, they are largely unusable for full-size adults offering only a little leg and head room. The backseat is best suited for children who can more easily scramble in and out. When lowered, the shallow trunk space extends considerably, making transport of small cargo a possibility.

2008 Nissan Altima- BadgeSafety-wise, the coupe is sufficiently loaded. Front seat passengers are protected by Nissan's Advanced Air Bag System with dual-stage air bags and seat belt sensors, in addition to side-impact airbags. Roof-mounted side-impact curtain air bags also supplement the system, reaching back into the second row. Front seat, active head restraints aid in the case of a rear-end collision. Also on board is a tire pressure monitoring system.

For a base price of $20,490 (2.5L), that's not shabby. Kick things up a notch with the 3.5-liter model and pricing begins at $24,890, but can quickly climb with luxe add-ons. What potential buyers will find in either model, however, is a snappy coupe that's more than eager to please and more than likely to impress.

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe

Description: Coupe
Model options: 2.5 S
2.5 SE
3.5 S
3.5 SE
Engine size: 2.5L 4-Cylinder
3.5L V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual or Xtonic CVT
Wheelbase: 105.3 inches
Overall Length: 182.5 inches
Rear/Front Drive: Front wheel drive
Air bags: Six: Front and side curtain airbags
MPG: 2.5L Manual: 25/32
2.5L CVT: 23/31
3.5L Manual: 19/27
3.5L CVT: 19/26
MSRP: 2.5L: $20,490
3.5L: $24,890