Nissan’s top-of-the-line sedan enters 2016 completely re-designed and revamped. We first got a glimpse of it during a surprise appearance in a SuperBowl commercial back in February. Nissan was able to keep a lid on the plan which left journalists & bloggers scrambling to get a screenshot in order to break the news.
No Holds Barred
Nissan didn’t hold back with this design. We often see wacky concept cars that are severely blanded down for public consumption but not this time. The vehicle looks just downright mean like a Great White Shark about to sink its teeth into dinner. Spearheading that angered look is the front double V-shaped grille and aggressively-positioned LED daytime running lights. The car looks long and low to the ground thanks to Nissan’s “floating roof” design which they first introduced on the new Murano. Visually separating the roofline form the rest of the body makes for a unique brand look and completes the flow for the whole design perfectly. I absolutely love it.
Sitting in the cabin, the occupants are surrounded in the same luxury you’d find in any Infiniti (Nissan’s luxury brand). The vehicle came with premium Ascot leather-trimmed seats with diamond-quilted Alcantara seating surfaces (Alcantara is a suede-like material). There is a similar material combination on the flat-bottom racing steering wheel which is perfect for the hands to grasp on to. This is one modern-looking interior with every button, every switch seemingly in the perfect location. Within 1 min of sitting inside, I had started the vehicle, found my favorite SiriusXM satellite radio station, adjusted the climate controls, paired my phone to bluetooth and was ready to go.
Tried & Tested VQ Motor
Under the hood is Nissan’s legendary VQ 3.5-litre V6 engine generating 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Fuel economy is rated at 7.8 litres per 100km however over the course of the week I averaged a little more (probably due to my propensity to test this sports car’s performance). And boy does it perform. The car will push you back into your seat at any speed, any time with power to spare. It didn’t matter if I was on the highway in 5th gear or accelerating from a stop, it never felt lacking. Braking was as efficient and gave me the confidence to slice through any curves or corners. I should also point out that this was all experienced while driving in normal mode! I only realized I neglected to switch on Sport Mode days into my time with the car. Sport mode increases the throttle response, steering feel transmission, tuning and even the exhaust note for a more exhilarating experience.
One issue I found rather prevalent was the amount of torque steer (the tendency of the car to lurch side to side while accelerating). When you have this much power in a front-wheel drive setup, it’s very hard to avoid. Traction is also an issue (especially in wet weather) though the traction control system mostly takes care of this.
Lots of Goodies
The Maxima’s interior is plush with electronic gizmos and goodies of every kind. Everything is right where it should be from the push button start to the 8” color touch screen to the 7” driver assist display behind the steering wheel to the array of wheel-mounted controls. The center console is angled 7 degrees toward the driver for easy reach.
Standard on all trims are driving aids including predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and moving object detection. Opting for the top-of-line Platinum trim will include driver attention alert and the surround view monitor (instead of just the rear view). Prior to driving the Maxima I’ve never considered any of these features when purchasing a vehicle. I have to say, I rather enjoyed them, in particular the non-intrusive but very effective blind spot monitoring.
A True Sports Sedan
I think back more than fifteen years ago when I bought my Acura Integra Type R brand new. This was one of the most performant and best-handling front-wheel drive vehicles money could buy. Fast forward to today and the new Maxima just destroys it in every fashion. It’s so good and so fast and you have the added benefit of carrying your entire family along for the ride.
One thing that’s interesting is the fact that all-wheel drive isn’t available. I suppose that’s understandable, given Nissan doesn’t want to take sales away from Infiniti Q50 and with a price of $42,820 including transport, you are already above the latter’s starting price. The Maxima is a bit of an oddity just like its Toyota competitor, the Avalon. The pair are not part of their manufacturer’s luxury brands but they are every bit as luxurious in my opinion.
At the risk of seeming like a paid promoter for Nissan, I must say that I absolutely loved this car. There just wasn’t anything I didn’t like about it save for the lack of AWD. Despite being a bit an oddball, Nissan has done enough to keep this car interesting for years to come.