2010 Nissan Altima Coupe 2.5 SPosted on March 5th, 2010
Sporty sibling to Nissan’s best selling sedan
By Nina Russin
The mid-sized Altima is Nissan’s best-selling passenger car. Filling the space between the upscale Maxima and value-packed Sentra, the five-passenger Altima offers buyers versatility and style in an affordable package.
Three years ago, Nissan pumped up the Altima’s sex appeal with a sleek new coupe. The coupe’s profile is similar to the iconic 370Z. Designers shortened the car’s wheelbase four inches compared to the sedan, and concealed the B pillar behind glass, emphasizing the coupe’s bullet shape.
The Altima sedan and coupe share very little sheetmetal. Both have the same hood, but the coupe’s grille, headlamps, tail lamps and all other major body panels are unique. The coupe is about two inches lower than the sedan, giving it a sportier appearance, and enhancing high-speed handling.
Buyers can choose from two engines: a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder block, or a 3.5-liter V6. Both come with a choice of six-speed manual transmission or continuously variable automatic.
This week, I got some seat time in the 2.5 S, equipped with the 175-horsepower four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox. Base price is $22,440, not including the $720 destination charge. An option package adds leather trim, an eight-way power driver’s seat, automatic headlamps, and steering wheel mounted audio controls ($1070). Floor and trunk mats cost $175.
The coupe’s swoopy lines and bright red exterior paint set it apart from the crowd. Jewel-style headlamps up front and two bright chrome exhaust tips give it a strong design presence from every angle.
Suede bucket seats in the front row are supportive and comfortable. The driver’s seat has a manually adjustable lumbar control. A standard dead pedal reduces leg fatigue on long drives.
Three air vents at the top of the center stack resemble the three-gauge cluster in the 370Z, creating a second design link between the two cars.
The base coupe comes well equipped with comfort and convenience features, including keyless entry and start, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, AM/FM/CD audio system with an auxiliary port, and two, twelve-volt power points. The rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern to extend the cargo floor.
While the four-cylinder engine isn’t a barn burner, it has plenty of power to meet the needs of most drivers, with excellent fuel economy. Drivers should be pleased with acceleration off the line, and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range. My average fuel economy on the test drive was 27 miles-per-gallon: a mile better than the EPA estimate.
Except for a rather long shift lever stalk, the manual transmission is a pleasure to use. It shifts easily and crisply, with plenty of range in the gears. The manual gearbox is a huge improvement over ones I’ve tested in former models, which were rather mushy.
A fully independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars provides a pleasant ride. Driving on the smooth streets of Phoenix makes it hard to gauge how the suspension would function in areas where potholes are common, but the suspension seems to be compliant enough to handle that challenge. The stabilizer bars keep the chassis flat in the corners.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the coupe in a firm, linear fashion.
Speed-sensitive power steering provides more assist at low speeds for maneuvering through crowded parking lots, while maintaining positive, on-center response at speed. A 34.7-foot turning radius makes the occasional U-turn a non-issue.
Visibility, especially to the back of the car, is the coupe’s Achilles heel. While pushing the B pillars toward the back did wonders for the car’s appearance, their location severely restricts over-the-shoulder visibility. I was painfully aware of this merging onto the highway, where I needed to monitor several lanes of traffic. Thick C pillars and the severely-raked roof create huge blind spots in the back corners as well.
The coupe’s shortened wheelbase has the unfortunate effect of limiting room in the back of the car. Not only is there a severe lack of legroom, but the sharply raked roof limits headroom as well. Two small adults can squeeze into the outboard positions on short trips. The center console and floor tunnel consume essentially all of the legroom in the middle.
There is ample room for adults of all sizes up front. Designers did a good job of surrounding passengers with storage spaces, cup and bottle holders. A large locking glovebox has a separate shelf for the owner’s manual, and enough room to hold a small purse or pack.
The front doors have map pockets and bottle holders. There are two large cupholders in the center console, and two more outboard of the second-row seats. Dual overhead reading lamps up front and a dome lamp in back illuminate the interior at night.
Center stack controls are easy to reach from either front seating position. A covered bin at the base of the center stack is handy for stashing compact disks or small electronic devices. A bin under the armrest has a small, removable shelf for iPods, MP3s or cell phones.
The coupe’s trunk is deep, but fairly shallow and narrow, due to the large wheel wells and raked rear end. Straps release the rear seatbacks to extend the cargo floor. Doing so allows the driver to load in golf bags, skis or a snowboard. It might be possible to shoe a bicycle in back, but it would be a tight squeeze, even with both wheels removed.
The Altima coupe comes standard with front, side and side curtain airbags, four-channel antilock brakes, traction and vehicle stability control. Nissan builds the Altima at its Smyrna, Tennessee assembly plant.
Likes: Sexy, head-turning design. The coupe offers car enthusiasts sporty performance and excellent fuel economy in an affordably-priced package. Designers captured the feel of the two-passenger Z car on a larger, more versatile platform.
Dislikes: Poor over-the-shoulder visibility. Large blind spots in the rear corners. Lack of leg and headroom in the second row.
Model: Altima Coupe 2.5 S
Base price: $22,440
As tested: $24,405
Horsepower: 175 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 180 lbs.-ft. @ 3900 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 23/31 mpg city/highway
4 responses to “2010 Nissan Altima Coupe 2.5 S”
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pantstofry April 26th, 2011 at 05:31
Love this car, it looks great.
But “the coupe”s trunk is deep, but fairly shallow”? Sounds a bit awkward, is it deep or shallow?
I guess I didn’t express that clearly. What I mean is that the trunk is long end to end but that it’s shallow top to bottom. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. Im very glad to see such fantastic info being shared freely out there.
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