A sedan with just one flaw: It doesn’t necessarily exist
Prototypes can be production promises not kept in the capitalintensive global automobile industry. A good idea, even one executed in preproduction metal, can be severely compromised or altogether altered in response to demands for lower production costs.
Here’s hoping that no such fate befalls the 2016 Nissan-Maxima sedan, the prototypical SV version of which I drove for this week’s column.
It is a beautiful car, easily one of the best-looking models Nissan has designed in the 35-year history of the-Maxima line.
Nissan steps away from ordinary and boring with this one. Indeed, it is arguable that the 2016Maxima is the first-Maxima to live up to the haughty implications of its name. It stopped traffic and drew rave spectator reviews everywhere in Northern Virginia during my week behind its wheel.
It is the first time I’ve received compliments for an automobile’s roof design— in this case, a fastback affair that seems to float above the car’s body, thanks to the ingenious application of piano-black trim between the car’s roof and body lines.
In another bit of sculptural illusion, the new-Maxima is a four-door sedan that seems as sleek as a two-door coupe. That appearance of sportiness is enhanced by a somewhat bulbous, wonderfully contoured hood fitted atop an aggressive, wide-mouthed grille.
The look is far different from the Maxima’s former square-bodied, mainstream-suburbs, like-everybody-else design. As indicated by the week’s spectator response, many people will applaud the change. But the car’s new styling approach might seem uncomfortably radical to others.
I go with the applause, especially in the matter of the new-Maxima’s cabin.
It is a supremely comfortable place, of excellent fit and finish, outfitted with high-quality-materials. Nissan has installed what it calls “zero-gravity” seats as standard equipment in the new Maxima. I don’t know what “zero gravity” means in application to car seats. But I can tell how those seats feel to the driver and front passenger.
They automatically enwrap you at highway speeds. They hold you close, making you feel as if you truly are one with the car. I like them better than Volvo’s seats, which I once thought were the most comfortable seats offered by the global automobile industry.
Nissan again is using its famed 3.5liter V-6 gasoline engine to power the new-Maxima, but with a difference. The revised V-6 has a tad more horsepower— 300 horsepower, compared with 290 in the predecessor model. But torque, the engine twisting power that turns the car’s front wheels, remains the same at 261 pound-feet.
I wound up driving this this one just for the fun of it, going scores of miles out ofmy way to spend more time behind the new-Maxima’s wheel.
I noticed something: Nissan, which pioneered the use of gearless continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), has substantially improved the system in the 2016Maxima. Credit goes to the improved electronics. The new CVT feels as good as a top-notch sixspeed automatic. Predecessor Nissan CVTs were disconcerting in their rubbery feel.
Nissan is to be congratulated. And, again, I hope the production version of the 2016Maxima, in dealers’ showrooms later this year, faithfully mimic the quality and enjoyment of the SV prototype I drove. Please, Nissan, no cost-saving shortcuts on this one. Boot out any corporate accountant who suggests otherwise.
I wound up driving this one just for the fun of it, going scores of miles out of my way.