2013 Nissan Altima | road test

Posted on Sep 30, 2012 by

’s Altima stands at interesting crossroads. On one hand, it needs to battle the power of Toyota Camry, on the other hand, Altima needs to defend itself from the Korean onslaught. Without any doubts, the likes of Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima are on the prowl for more ground. With 2013 Altima, clearly states its intentions of not just staying in the game but climbing up a few notches as well – can the stylish, new Altima delivery that for the Japanese car maker?

2013 Nissan Altima | AutoMiddleEast.com

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder is an age old adage. While Nissan thinks the 2013 Altima is a revolutionary new design, we tend to have a different opinion, if one sees the larger canvas. The 2013 certainly is a lot different than the current generation Altima but will the car turn heads on the roads, doubtful.

Unlike the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata or even Kia Optima (when theses cars were launched), where we were compelled to take another look at the cars that passed by for their total newness, the 2013 Nissan Altima looks similar to Nissan’s Maxima from the rear and sports the same boomerang headlights and taillights that first made its appearance on the Nissan 370Z way back in time.

2013 Nissan Altima | AutoMiddleEast.com

The 2013 Nissan Altima gets wider track while the wheel base remains unchanged from the current Altima. With all four wheels pushed out, the car gets more presence on the road. The chromed accents on its grill will surely get your eyes, if nothing more.

Sloping A pillars lead into a roofline making this sedan look more like a sport back car. The 2013 Nissan Altima certainly scores a point here. It looks sleek and energetic and not just a dull sedan, yet far from the aggressively styled Hyundai Sonata or Kia Optima.

2013 Nissan Altima | AutoMiddleEast.com

Two engines are available. The tried and tested, award winning 3.5 liter V6 VQ series engine that Nissan features in almost all their cars. This machine is capable of 270 horsepower and 349 Nm of torque.  In addition, a smaller 2.5 liter engine capable of 182 horsepower and 244 Nm of torque is also available on the 2013 Nissan Altima.

Irrespective of what motor you want, a new generation continuous variable transmission (CVT) is responsible for converting all that power into meaningful motion. Manual shifting is possible. Heck, our top end 3.5 liter V6 Altima test car even came with steering mounted pedal shifters.

2013 Nissan Altima | AutoMiddleEast.com

AutoMiddleEast.com set out in the 3.5 liter V6 top end Altima. As expected, the engine delivers on demand. There’s a reason for this motor to be one of the top 10 engines in the world for over a decade now. The surprise here was Altima’s new gen CVT. The new CVT, contrary to expectations, works more like an automatic case and does not hesitate to supply power to the wheels instantly. Ok, this is not the most athletic transmission we have come across. However, the delayed response and high engine revs before anything  happens as one would expect from a CVT, has been reduced to the extent of non existence. The 2013 Nissan Altima seemed to be quicker than the previous car, we need to verify the numbers here.

While we award points to the Japanese car maker for doing a fantastic job with the new gen CVT, it is only befitting to impose some negative marks for handing on the 3.5 liter Altima. Throw the car into a roundabout or a sharp turn at legal speeds and the car wallows and under steers.

Fast forward into our drive experience in the 2.5 liter Altima – this car behaves well no matter what you throw at it, as long as it is legal.  This is no track car.

We feel the added weight of the engine and softer suspension setup in the 3.5 liter V6 are culprits. A stiffer suspension setup should make the 3.5 liter version sure footed and in the process provide more driving confidence.

2013 Nissan Altima | AutoMiddleEast.com

Before we get sucked into commenting on the new suspension setup in the 2013 Nissan Altima, a word on the 2.5 liter engine is rightfully needed. While the 3.5 liter V6 engine seems well endowed, the 2.5 liter 4 cylinder version felt gasping for breath when pushed hard. It is obvious that the two engines are entirely different breeds.

The 2.5 liter engine will be the staple in this crowded marketplace. The 182 horsepower engine packs in sufficient capacity to handle urban driving demands confidently.  However, having driven the bigger, more powerful 3.5 liter V6 version before this made us feel the striking difference in power output of the two engines. The smaller unit felt gasping for breath when pushed from start stop situations in comparison.

This brings us to the next change on the 2013 Nissan Altima. The new car gets a new suspension setup that undulate speed bumps, pot holes, creases, cavities and what have you on the tar surface with ease.  The ride is comfortable, and there is ample of space inside the car. The 6 foot high co-journalist in our car had no reasons to complain even in the back seats.

2013 Nissan Altima | AutoMiddleEast.com

If we were asked to pick out one new feature on the 2013 Altima that Nissan touted most – that would have to be its ‘gravity defying seats.’

Nissan turned to the space agency NASA for tips on how to develop seats that are less tiring. Wisdom gained – seats designed according to relaxed position that a human body takes when in a weightless environment tend to exert less pressure on muscles than the conventional seats.

These pearls of wisdom were turned into the holy grail of seat design in the 2013 Nissan Altima, but only the front seats. Result – you sure feel comfortable. Seats are supportive and make you feel lighter – I don’t know how to explain that feeling. You have to get into the seats for some time to make sense of this perception.

Although the rear seats are not ‘gravity defying’ seats, they are still comfortable and supportive.

2013 Nissan Altima | AutoMiddleEast.com

In total, there are five versions of the new car on sale – two fitted with the 3.5 liter V6 engine and another three with the 2.5 liter engine. The differences stem from the features and gadgets in the car. Have a look at our 2013 Nissan Altima new car review for specific details.

The 2013 Nissan Altima packs in segment leading features to make one happy. While vehicle dynamic control, traction control, ABS brakes, push button ignition with remote keyless entry and airbags for driver and passenger come standard on all models, a lot of features hitherto unavailable in the mid size car segment are also optionally available. These include safety technologies like blind spot warning, lane departure warning, moving object detection system and rear view camera, some of which were available only in premium cars until now.

Remote engine start, bluetooth hands free phone, steering mounted controls and pedal shifter, touch screen navigation, USB/ iPod port for your external audio device, cruise control, side and curtain airbags and premium leather trims are also on offer as you climb the ladder.

2013 Nissan Altima | AutoMiddleEast.com

Connecting my iPhone over Bluetooth and streaming music from it to the Altima’s speakers was a breeze. In addition to the infotainment system, the 2013 Nissan Altima also features another screen (optional) in the instrument cluster that provides the driver with essential information and facilitates management of some of the car’s features at the touch of a button.  Although one has seen such features on some of the premium cars but not on run of the mill cars like the Altima.

Nissan calls this the most innovative Altima ever. We generally agree with the claim. With a starting price tag closer to AED80,000 and the features packed in this car, the 2013 Nissan Altima has a lot of reasons to push its weight in the crowded segment that it sits in.

Will it be able to defend itself from the Korean onslaught and take on the might of Toyota Camry?

AutoMiddleEast.com verdict: Yes it can. The fight will be tough and a long one. 

Post Review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *