What it is
2008 Nissan Altima Coupe – Preview: The 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe is obviously much more than an Altima sedan minus two doors. Its sleek fastback shape brings to mind the Infiniti G35 coupe, the Nissan 350Z and the recent Nissan GT-R concept car. It aims to do battle with the Honda Accord Coupe and Toyota Solara, which is the coupified version of the Camry.
But unlike those cars, the Altima Coupe rides on a shorter wheelbase, is significantly shorter overall, and is considerably lower than its sedan counterpart. It also shares only its hood with the Altima sedan. The rest of the exterior, including the headlights and taillights, are unique to the coupe. Not surprising considering the smaller dimensions, the Altima Coupe will also weigh less than the sedan.
Why it matters
While not the biggest segment of the midsize market, coupe versions of the Accord and Camry have been popular and profitable enough to remain in the lineup since their introduction in 1988 and 1992, respectively. However, those—and other coupes such as the Pontiac G6—are closely related to their sedan counterparts, despite significant styling differences and a different name on the Toyota Solara. Scan through the competition, and it's hard to find any direct competitor that you'd call sexy, inspiring, or even more than moderately attractive. The 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe promises to inject a big dose of performance and style to an otherwise snore-worthy segment.
What's under the hood
The 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe will be powered by the same choice of engines and transmissions available in the sedan. That means a 175 horsepower 2.5-liter four cylinder or a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. Either transmission can be mated to a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission with manual controls. Power in either case is routed to the front wheels.
What it looks like
Did we mention this is a sharp looking car? Did we point out the fastback profile (it still has a traditional trunk, though), the sleek headlights, the road-hugging stance, the unique headlight and taillight treatments, or the overall poor-man's G35 coupe impression it leaves? Because if we didn't we certainly meant to. Granted it's no Ferrari, but it's instantly the style leader in its segment, and may even have enough visual appeal to cross over into other segments.
The 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe draws most of its interior trimmings from the new sedan. We're happy to say that this is no bad thing, as the new sedan features a significantly upgraded interior. The nicer materials and improved fit and finish are found in the Coupe, too, along with unique front seats with deeper bolstering, and a hand lever for the parking brake regardless of transmission choice (sedans with the CVT get a foot brake). The roofline certainly makes for a sportier feel, but it's not cramped by any means.
What Nissan Says
The 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe joins the lineup as one seriously sexy automobile. The styling of the whole Altima lineup was improved considerably for the 2007 model year. But the new sedans can't come close to the sex appeal of the coupe. The Toyota Solara and Honda Accord Coupe—frankly, every other coupe in this segment—suddenly look very plain. The 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe is scheduled to go on sale in the summer of 2007.
What we think
We think that Nissan has a potential winner on its hands. The car looks good, and if it moves like the new sedan, it'll be as fun to drive as it is to look at. Nissan is unofficially projecting that about 10 percent of Altima sales will be the coupe. We'd strongly suggest that they gear up for more.
Photos courtesy of Staff and Nissan Motors