The Nissan Altima is heralded as Nissan’s best selling vehicle in North America since its launch in 2001. Launched under the philosophy of ‘the cure for the common sedan,’ it veered away from copying the sales leaders in the segment and targeted the estimated 20% of sedan buyers seeking more style and performance. Though the Altima name has been used in other markets for years, its biggest success is undoubtedly in the US. Even if the Sentra is the more economical model, the Altima was the car that offered the very best compromise between affordability and driving enjoyment. The is positioned between the more sophisticated Maxima and the more plebeian Sentra. To reward loyal fans of the model and hopefully lure new buyers to their fold, Nissan celebrated the end of its third generation FF-L platform Altima with a special edition SE-R model.
The SE-R is intended for the more sport-minded drivers looking for more distinction without having to shell out more money for the Maxime or wait for the new fourth generation Altima that uses the all-new more rigid and versatile D-platform with even more power and even better driving dynamics. The focused SE-R uses a 260bhp version of the now legendary VQ35DE engine (up from 250bhp) combined with a special list of features and equipment designed for the sports enthusiast, such as an exclusive 6-speed short-throw manual transmission, aggressive Bridgestone Potenza S03 225/45YR18 tires on forged 8×18”wheels, and headrests with perforated red or gray leather-appointed inserts and matching stitching on the seats, steering wheel and shift knob, dark chrome trim treatment and drilled aluminum pedals, moonroof, and a 150watt Bose premium audio system with 8 speakers and AM/FM/in-dash 6-disc CD changer with RDS, speed-sensitive volume control and steering wheel audio controls.
The SE-R features an independent front suspension design with extensive use of aluminum and an independent rear multi-link system adopted from the Japanese-market Nissan Skyline supercar and is similar to Infiniti’s flagship Q45 sedan. All that plus no restrictive traction and stability programs make for a very entertaining sedan that enjoys being flogged. There is a heck of a lot of torque steer but it’s still very manageable, even welcome in this era of sanitation. This extra grunt is the result of an extra 2lb.-ft of maximum torque which wouldn’t have been felt at all if not that it now arrives at a more usable 3,600rpm instead of the standard 4,400rpm.
Fun car but now completely obsolete as the all-new Altima has just arrived offering even better performance with looks to go with it.