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 percent 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 USA. 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. This 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 Maxima 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 260 bhp 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, upgraded 12.6” front and 11.5” rear disc brakes with painted calipers that dampen the seriousness of the setup (SE-R logo on the front calipers), an aggressive front facia, rear spoiler, high-flow mufflers, large-diameter chrome dual exhaust finishers, standard HID, and black leather-appointed sport seats. To be honest, the SE-R doesn’t look particularly attractive even if the aerodynamic revisions yield an improved .31 drag coefficient (standard Altima is .33cd). However, it’s the overall packaging and fun behind the wheel that compensates immensely for any visual shortcomings.
The interior update continues with a three-pod center-mounted gauge package, similar to that found on the 350Z with the voltmeter, oil pressure and fuel consumption gauges, sport-shaped front seats 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 150-watt 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 2 lb-ft of maximum torque which wouldn’t have been felt at all if not that it now arrives at a more usable 3,600 rpm instead of the standard 4,400 rpm. The Altima was a fun car but is now completely obsolete as the all-new Altima has just arrived offering even better performance with looks to go with it
|Engine||V6, 3498 cc, dohc 24V, Multi-Point Injection, CVTCS, 6-Speed MT|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||260 bhp @ 6000 rpm|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||251 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm|
|Top Speed||240 km/h (150 mph)|
|0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph||5.9 sec.|
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
|Fuel Milage (km/l)||20 mpg City / 28 mpg Highway|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||(2006) US$ 30,290.00|
|What's Great||Engaging, well-equipped, entertaining to drive, a fan-favorite, fuel efficient.|
|What's Not So||Design-challenged, out-going model, pricey.|
|C! Editors Rating||8.5/10|