The Nissan Maxima is seriously quick and sporty with looks that edge it into super-saloon territory. Alvin Thomas shares his experience of his new wheels.
Many say that buying a car can be one of the hardest decisions for an individual. But it wasn’t taxing for me at all! Sure, I too had prepared a list, with a number of saloons and ‘hot’ hatchbacks I wanted to roar across Oman’s roads in.
It contained everything from the mighty Volkswagen Golf GTi, to the long and comfy Chevrolet Impala, and everything in between – like the Honda Civic RS, Ford Focus ST, Subaru WRX, Mazda 6 and so on.
However, my relationship with the Nissan Maxima bloomed the moment I set eyes on her. Somehow, I knew I wanted it, ridiculing my months of painstaking armchair researching.
You could call it love at first sight!
The Maxima I first laid saw was painted “Coulis Red” – a fairly appealing colour – especially among the plethora of white cars that pepper the roads of Oman today.
This was followed by hours of simply sitting inside the car, appreciating the interior and the features. At one point, I remember spending an entire hour inside a customer’s vehicle just because there was no test car!
It didn’t take me long before I had made up my mind to book this beast, though.
And in less than two weeks, the Nissan Maxima was in my car parking space.
The only difference was that I had opted for a “Gun Metal” paint job due to the lack of availability of darker shades.
Still, I was a proud 22-year-old; I had my own Maxima now (even though I hadn’t even test-driven the vehicle).
Even the interior came as a surprise to me; resplendent in a dual-tone beige and black, finished in cashmere premium Ascot leather and metal accents around the wraparounds.
The interior is spacious too, with adequate space for a family of five. But it didn’t take me long to realise that the driver got most of the creature comforts.
At my fingertips lay a 20cm touchscreen head-unit and a 17cm gauge cluster showing vehicle information, including a ‘Power’ meter to measure the amount of throttle and even a turn-by-turn navigation screen.
While I’m at it, I must say that the Maxima’s head unit is one of the best touchscreen systems available on the market today, second only to BMW’s iDrive that I first used in the M5, and perhaps also the UConnect system in the Chrysler 300.
The fit and finish is also supreme.
The doors close with the sort of “thump” you’d expect only from a RO30,000 saloon.
But if I were to nitpick, I’d have to say that I felt a little let down by the stock horn that I found to be cheap sounding, similar to those of the early Toyota Echo days.
In any case, let’s move on to the powertrain – the engine and gearbox – the most interesting part of the saloon.
Before anything else, I must make it known that Nissan markets the Maxima as a “4-Door Sports Car”, which I felt was a bit of a stretch, when compared to its rear-wheel drive rivals such as the Dodge Charger and the brand’s own Infiniti Q50.
I was a bit circumspect about the “4DSC” badges around the vehicle and it took me a while to get the point.
The Maxima is mind-blowingly quick!
Underneath the pretty frock lies the legendary VQ-series 3.5-litre V6 engine, waiting to breath out a mind-boggling 300 horsepower and 354 Nm of torque.
Power is almost instantaneous, as is the throttle response. And with a chunk of the torque lying in the 4400rpm band, the initial kick in acceleration is real, and in my case, addictive. It took me a mere 6.5 seconds to hit the 100 kph mark from standstill, although I can expect better figures after I’ve broken in the engine (after hitting 1,000km).
It also sounds menacing, making a loud growl upon hard acceleration.
If anything bothers me right now, it has to be the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gearbox fitted to the Maxima. For those who don’t know, a CVT is an automatic gearbox with a single gear, set with fixed ratios to imitate real gears. Earlier CVTs have been known to suffer from the “rubber band” effect, as the vehicle maintained a set rpm – essentially making a lot of noise rather than speed.
And while the engineers in Nissan have overcome the horrors of the early CVTs, the Maxima – while mimicking gearshifts and all – still has that whiff of that CVT-ish engine drone.
Apart from that, there’s very little to dislike about the Maxima, and I don’t say that because it’s my car. It really is that good.
Nissan Maxima SV