Since its debut back in 2007, the Nissan Altima Coupe has proved to be a more practical “poor-man’s G37″ in terms of styling and even performance. This personality continues into 2010 with a few minor changes this year.
First on this list of changes are new interior fabrics, new exterior colors, and different option packages. Standard Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) is now standard, and the old SE trim has been renamed to SR. The biggest change for 2010 is the revised front-end consisting of a new bulgy hood, new grille and front bumper, and new wheel options. The change in appearance was a step in the wrong direction for Nissan as I see it; the new hood has too many humps and looks incredibly awkward compared to the 2009 and earlier models, and makes the car look like it’s been in a head-on collision. The new grille has a different, but still silly-looking chrome mustache in front. Check out the picture below to see what I mean about the awkward new front-end.
Luckily, the car is otherwise brilliant. Read on for our review of the 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe.
I can’t get over that silly-looking front
I already mentioned the awkward front-end. Otherwise, the car is identical to previous models, and still looks exceptional. Though the Altima Coupe and Sedan share basic underpinnings, they are designed separately, as any proper coupe should. Sharing many styling aspects with the Infiniti G37 Coupe (intentionally,) the Altima looks very sporty, and rightfully so.
Interior design is fairly basic, though attractive. The center control panel is laid out logically and is easy to operate. Sadly, the god-awful orange LCD matrix screen from previous models – which I assume they scrounged out of VCRs from the 1980s – is still present. Luckily though, that screen can be replaced with a beautiful, 4.3-inch color LCD with the premium audio package. The red leather adds a nice touch to the inside, along with the red accents in the door.
Our test car is a 2010 Altima Coupe 2.5 S, powered by a 2.5-liter 175 hp four-cylinder engine. Your other choice is a 3.5-liter V6 capable of 270 hp. We’ve tested the V6 in the past, and it’s a great engine. Our 2.5-liter powerplant is smooth and peppy for its size, and will be adequate for most drivers.
Nissan’s featured transmission throughout its model range and on our test model is the continuously variable transmission (CVT,) though you can opt for a six-speed manual instead. In general, I’m not a fan of the CVT. It’s efficient and puts down power well, but it’s annoying to drive thanks to the inherent engine drone caused by holding RPMs at a constant range depending on driving style. The CVT in the Altima Coupe is the best I’ve driven so far, but I’d still opt for the manual.
Options, Trim, & Tech
Our test model is equipped with the Premium Package which consists of a moonroof, XM radio, premium Bose audio, USB connectivity, bluetooth, dual-zone climate, and a 4.3-inch color LCD screen. This package is necessary to get rid of that ugly orange screen that comes standard. A Convenience package includes power driver’s seat, auto on/off headlights, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. The Leather Package includes leather seating (duh,) heated seats, and for some reason it’s packaged with HID headlights and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
Here’s where Nissan needs some work. Its option packaging makes no sense, and limits your options when ordering a new Altima. For example, if you want the manual transmission on the 2.5 S, you can’t have any options other than the Convenience Package. No leather, no HIDs, no premium audio, nothing. If you want the manual transmission on the 3.5 SR, you are forced to get the Premium Package and Leather Package, but cannot have navigation. In addition, the leather and HID headlights are packaged together, so you can’t have one or the other. These and other strange option packaging will turn off picky customers like me.
Once you do finally get the options you want, they’re pretty good. The 4.3-inch color LCD is crisp and clear, and the available auxiliary and USB connections are great. I did occasionally have a problem with the car recognizing my iPhone. When I plugged it in, the car’s screen would get stuck on “Reading Files,” and this was sometimes cured by unplugging and reconnecting the phone, other times it wouldn’t work at all.
This is where the Altima really shines. Handling and suspension are crisp and tight even in the 2.5 S. Despite the sporty suspension, it never felt too bumpy on the road. The 2.5-liter engine and CVT are good for regular driving, and provides a smooth and easy drive in a stylish everyday driver.
Driver and front passenger have tons of room in front, though adults will be cramped in the rear seats. Trunk space is fairly limited as you would expect; a small price to pay for such a sexy car.
The 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe starts at $22,440 for the 2.5 S with manual transmission, add $500 more for the CVT. Get into the 3.5 SR for $27,270 with CVT, $2,400 more for the manual. I know it doesn’t make sense; it’s all because of the weird options packaging.
MPG numbers for the 175 hp 2.5 engine are 23 city, 32 hwy – pretty good, considering its sporty attitude. The 270 hp 3.5-liter engine gets 20/27 mpg with the CVT.
Despite its few problems, the driving aspect of this car makes up for it all. While it’s not as fun to drive as the 370Z, the Altima Coupe is a fantastic everyday driver that can be fun when pushed. It’s a great choice within its segment if you need a fuel efficient everyday driver that’s also fun to drive.
If this review sounds like I’m being tough on the car, it’s tough love. I really like the Altima Coupe, and have considered buying one myself on multiple occasions.
Before You Buy
The 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe’s big competitors include the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Honda Accord Coupe, and Chevy Camaro V6, all of which are very good cars. If you can live with having four doors and a less exciting drive, your options open to the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Honda Accord sedan, Ford Fusion, and Chevy Malibu.
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