December 01, 2015 By Kevin C. Limjoco

2016 Nissan Maxima SR

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Words: Kevin C. Limjoco – Pictures: Isabel N. Delos Reyes

For seven generations the sporty mid-size Maxima sedan has mostly been a winning formula for Nissan, always offering notable new innovations and features. However, except in the North American market where it continues to thrive, the model has been steadily losing ground to its direct competition over the years. But with this new 8th generation Maxima, I am very confident that Nissan is going to turn back the tide. If you have seen some teaser pictures online and have already been impressed with its U.S. Navy Blue Angel™ jet-inspired design, it looks astoundingly better in person.

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I’ve always had a soft spot for the Maxima in particular because of my melancholy memories of spending quality time with my fighter pilot grandfather in California in the early 80’s when he had a brown 1st generation Maxima that literally spoke to us with voice warnings to remind us to switch off the headlights or shut the door properly. It was the first and last rear-wheel drive Maxima that also used an inline-6 engine and was one of the few cars in its day to have independent rear suspension. Even from that first model Maxima, which was also the beginning of the use of the Nissan brand over Datsun in the US, the audio systems were better than other sedans in their class; it was in that car that I learned to appreciate good old Frank Sinatra.

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The new Nissan Maxima may use the same D-platform wheelbase as the previous model (which it also shares with the more modest Altima which also got similar upgrades this year), but it feels, drives, and looks nothing like it. It is huge too, almost as large as the 6th generation in length, so it feels very spacious but amazingly light and heavily insulated. One way of describing it is that it drives with the direct sportiness of an Infiniti but with the plushness of a Lexus. It’s an outstanding feat and will cause quite a sensation in every market that it will be sold. Remember how the new Mazda6 with its Kodo design shocked the segment just a couple of years back and then recently upped the ante this year with more equipment and a facelift? Take all of that sensation and then add further mechanical engineering; Nissan means business again. With Mazda as a reference, which took a couple of solid products and then refined them with even better incremental design improvements, updated equipment, and better insulation with much success, Nissan used their own theoretical strategies as well but made sure that they also worked on the dynamism at a higher level. So the new Maxima looks incredible, and despite still using a CVT transmission (in fairness, the best example by far yet!), it drives the best in its class. It is almost like the Nissan designers and engineers were inspired by the best and most desirable elements from the competition: design, packaging, and efficiency from the Mazda6; refinement, space, and comfort from the Toyota Camry; and from the Honda Accord, dynamic performance, and applied them liberally and distinctively to the new Maxima.

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The Maxima might be fairly large but it drives like a small hot hatch with the luxury of a premium sedan! The engine is once again carried over but it has been lightened and tuned to produce 300 bhp with 261 lb ft of torque (uses 60% new components). The basic chassis is even more rigid by 25% now, yet is 82 pounds lighter (increased use of high strength steels, including 1.2GPa high strength steel) and the Xtronic transmission is now more performance-oriented. So despite the increased engine power, larger size, and comprehensive equipment upgrades, the Maxima gains a 15% improvement in fuel efficiency! There is also a Performance Chassis Damper in the engine to manage engine movement so the Maxima drives fast without feeling sloppy or exhibiting the negative aspects of a sporty car.

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In keeping with Nissan’s reputation for aggressive improvements, it now has a Drive Mode Selector (Sport and Normal modes) that adjusts throttle response, transmission tuning, steering feel, and Active Sound Enhancement tuning. The suspension has been heavily retuned too, and uses ZF Sachs dampers with thicker anti-roll bars. The tires are really meaty Good Year 245/40R19 all-season rubber. Our beautiful deep blue pearl test unit was a top-spec SR variant that has the most sporting tuning in the product range without sacrificing any comfort. It has both active and passive controls to manage the daily experience. The improvements inside and out are so extensive that I simply do not have the space to expound on them at the moment. The SR sits lower than the other models and has a .30cd, which does not sound great at first, but when you understand that the overall aerodynamics was created for better high speed stability without compromising fuel economy and sound noise suppression, you forget the number and simply enjoy the results behind the steering wheel!

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The Maxima SR interior is just as dramatic and fabulous as its exterior with rich Camel leather interior with Alcantara™ inserts. The new instruments, combined with the 7.0-inch Advanced Drive-Assist™ display, are outstanding. There is even an additional cool feature in the screen that when in Sport mode shows actual engine power output like a BMW M3! Of course, our Maxima SR had the cracking 11-speaker Bose® audio system too, but this time it also offers the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology from their noise canceling headphones to further improve the cabin ambience.

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The new Nissan Maxima SR is so handsome, full featured, and genuinely fun to drive that it may even take sales away from the European brands. It is so complete that I did not mind at all that it was still a front-wheel drive. Now if only it was not speed governed and sold in the Philippines…

Specification – 2016 Nissan Maxima SR


Engine: V6, 3498 cc, dohc 24V, CVTCS, Xtronic CVT
Max power: 300 bhp @ 6400 rpm
Max torque: 261 lb ft @ 4400 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 5.9 sec.
Top Speed: 216 km/h (135 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 22 mpg City / 30 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 38,750.00
C! RATING 10/10
+The finest Maxima ever, great looking, could be the very best in its class
-We hope Nissan Philippines eventually imports it

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