Test Drive #3 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe

2008 Nissan Altima 2 Dr. Coupe 2.5 S

Altima has always been on the list of cars of I knew I had to test drive before selecting a replacement for my Dodge Stratus. Seeing that my Stratus has been in the shop again recently for repair again has brought about the search for a more reliable vehicle to the forefront of my mind.  I was looking for a Ford Focus ZX3 the other day at the dealer and they didn’t have one with manual transmission.  A little disheartened I was until I saw a black Altima.

I got up a little closer to the car and saw that it was a 6 speed. For a two door coupe it looked a little intimidating and I wasn’t sure I wanted to get behind the wheel until I sat in the car. It wasn’t so much that I had never driven a 6 speed before or that I couldn’t drive a manual transmission car; I hadn’t drove a stick in two years or more. I didn’t want to embarrass myself with being rusty or being competent enough to feel out what the car could if I couldn’t shift confidently.

Car looked sharp and had a pretty nice interior, with the best feature of all: push start ignition. I mean if you could buy a car on one feature, for me, it would be the push starter. Car looked pretty loaded except it didn’t have leather seats, which for the price they were asking, it should have had them.  Controls were fairly accessible, plenty of room and storage; I felt comfortable behind the wheel.

Even though this coupe version had the same engine as a standard Altima with the 2.5L engine, it had some power and get up in it. I think it has more do with less weight and size than the S that is on the end of 2.5 L decal on the back. You can drive around all day in this car in fifth gear and sixth gear is where you can start to get into trouble with Johnny Law.

Car handled pretty well and I was pleased with its performance and feel as I shifted through the gears. The one thing that kind of turned me off was trunk space, there wasn’t any and that isn’t a good thing for a two door vehicle.  Other than that, the car looked good with dual exhaust and under the hood.

Out of a possible 50 points. (10 for each category)

Performance/Driving: Probably the strongest selling point for this car. Plenty of car for what I need. With manual transmission, you can feel this car wanting to take off and blow through urban traffic. 9/10

Space/Room: Trunk space is bad and lacking, especially for a two door. Outside of that, there is plenty of room and this is very comfortable ride with plenty of leg room and storage space for your little accessories and essentials to keep in a car. 7/10

Appearance: This car is sharp and definitely looks intimidating as a coupe. Good wheels and a lot of potential to upgrade to a mid size racer of sorts. This car stands out, especially in black 9/10

Cost: In general, these cars have pretty good resell value and because of that, dealers think they can turn these cars at a much higher than book price, but if you are going to buy an Altima, why not pay a few thousand more and get a new one. I know this is a solid car and probably is worth a few extra bucks, but I think it might be a little on the higher end of what I want to pay.  8/10

Comfort: You can drive in style and feel like it too. I felt like a pilot behind the steering wheel and the thrill of a 6 speed made me feel at ease with whatever the road was going to throw at me. Seats were not leather and that is why this does not get a perfect score. 9/10

Overall: I knew the Altima was a very good car before getting behind the wheel. The expectations were high for this car and it met them. I am going to test drive a sedan before making a final decision on this car because I think with four doors and bigger trunk, this may be the ideal car for me outside of cost, but if I can fine the right deal, an Altima may be in my future realistically. Total Score: 42/50

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