December 2013 archive

Nissan Altima Makes Australian Debut

Aaahhh the Sunday session. Finding a snuggly, sun-dappled beer garden, or a sticky carpet venue, buying terrible beer by the jug and whiling away a day and night in one big go. Heaven. When we emerged from the parental cocoon to get on with our lives, needing to get a car all of our own, boy did we see some interesting choices. While few of us had budgets worth even opening the piggy bank for, we sure managed to make do but still ended up with cars that were a part of our personality.

I mean, heck, what did we have to lose when we only had two grand to spend on a car that was probably as old as we were?

1977 mazda 323

The 1977 Mazda 323, my first car

My Sunday session mates in my very late teens and early twenties had pretty eclectic taste in their formative vehicles. There was the modified old-skool Volkswagen bug (cut down to become a convertible) complete with glittery lightning-bolt paintwork that to this day reminds me of David Bowie. Driven with great aplomb by a guy. There was the white Ford panel van with a stereo system & floor-to-ceiling black carpet. The blue Torana affectionately named the arse-mobile (first three letters of the numberplate? ARS). The Subaru all-wheel-drive wagon that we used a wooden dustpan brush to smack the battery with when it started to leach electricity everywhere. My fabulous but cantankerous Mazda 323 hatch covered in TUSA stickers. I scuba dive, therefore I am. Another Mazda that was bought for less than a grand, but with a four grand sound system and equally large security system to keep the sound system safe (it worked). There were mountains of Datsun 120Bs and 180Ys in the ever popular (spew) mustard yellow. The list goes on.

But if there’s one thing these cars all had, it was personality, a devil-may-care attitude to modification, and my goodness we had some massive adventures in them. Road trips, nefarious plots, sneaking beer into the Falls Festival, camping, more road trips, and a million house moves where we all rucked in to get the worst job in the world over with, fast.

It was a time that wasn’t destined to last as we got more responsible jobs and started to upgrade. We started to buy cars that were suitable for our jobs, our ‘lifestyles’, and the image we wanted to project. And the cars, well, they started to be less about who we were as individuals, and more of an investment that got us around with the minimum amount of breakdowns and shame. Some people can keep it fun and insist on putting two kids and a dog in a 1969 Mustang, and others are all about the easy people carrier. Which brings me onto the good old four-door sedan. It’s the ultimate in sensible car shopping.

There’s been a bunch of burly truckers and dockworkers organising a bunch of deliveries to Nissan dealerships, with sales of the new Nissan Altima kicking off this first week in December. It’s a four door sedan. It’s definitely going to appeal to people who want a 4-door that looks sleek and, frankly, like it cost a lot more than it actually did. We personally know people who will rate that very highly, not mentioning anyone by name in case they never speak to me again while they’re off doing the school run. And Nissan’s are a great car, so you can’t go too wrong.

nissan altima review 2013 nissan lipstick and gearsticks

The 2013 Nissan Altima

It’s value for dollar, with pricing kicking off in the low $30K range and with all of the full fancy options (including a very growly V8 engine, very pretty allow wheels & leather seating) you’re looking at the low $50K range. We haven’t personally seen the interior yet, but those who have, have rated it highly as very sexy, utterly sophisticated and very sleek. The non-leather interior option has been described as “velourish”. Not by us, we’re just reporting. Truly.

Nissan is rather famous for its V8’s and the Altima has a V8 Supercar racing pedigree. In a conventional sense, this means if you’re going a 4-door mid-size sedan as your vehicle choice, you can choose between a reasonable (but not outstanding) fuel economy in the V6, or a ripper of a V8 to make your sensible sedan so much more fun. Cue rummaging in knickers. While we’re talking about a 4-door sedan, we know that this is going to be popular as a family vehicle so let’s get realistic about the electronic side of things. You’ve got Bluetooth & iPod connectivity, you’ve got USB inputs, you’ve got between six factory speakers or nine BOSE ones so it’s what you’d be wanting – and frankly expecting – in a car like this.

Comfort is important, especially when you’ve got kids and dogs (or your crazy mates) in the back. The cabin is well thought out, and the cabin was built with the help of NASA research and the seats are designed to hold you in the ‘weightless’ position of an astronaut in zero gravity. I could rabbit on for days what it means and how it was done, but all you need to know is that it keeps you cradled in comfort, reduces driver fatigue and apparently increases blood flow. The less fatigued you get while you’re running about town or on long haul trips is a very good thing.

Let’s look at the topline list of things to know:

  • It’s two-wheel drive across the board.
  • Altima is available as a petrol model only, so no diesel, turbo or hybrid options here.
  • It’s automatic transmission only, so manual-heads need not apply.
  • It ticks all of the safety, airbags, and security boxes.
  • BYO satellite navigation.
  • NissanConnect is in a few of the higher-end Altima models, which links your smartphone and handsfree technology to get you onto your favourite apps like Google Maps.
  • There are a total of four models (the St, ST-L, TI & TI-S) that are pragmatic with what you get at each price level. You get what you pay for.

The colour range is wide, sophisticated, and a nice blend of cools and warms. The colour names are even nice, including Mineral Blue, White Diamond & Titanium. The colours will be popular and are quite lovely, but no-one in their right mind would find the colour palette challenging or especially interesting. They are definitely elegant, don’t get me wrong. But anyone looking for Micra Glasgow Green or Amsterdam Orange will be disappointed.

The Altima is unashamedly a car about being sensible. It’s a car you buy when you’ve got a shopping list of things to tick off. It looks sleek, it’s Nissan-reliable, it’s elegant, and it’s an un-embarassing car to be getting around in. We like it a lot. It’s well thought out, quick, comfortable, will be reliable, is capable of more than you’ll ever ask of it, and has enough extra accents in the speed and looks department to remind you of the days you went broke to buy something secondhand and turbo-charged. Because, you know, life.

You might think we’re being cheeky calling it un-embarassing. But it’s true, and we’d decided that before we even saw the TV ad out of the USA. Get on with the sensible part of your life, without embarrassing yourself or making a car-buying mistake. And know you’ve got a few little secrets under the bonnet that will put a cheeky smile on your face.

Visit the Nissan website to find out more about the Altima here.

If this ad was made with your favourite female comedian in the driver’s seat, who would you nominate and what four things would their Nissan Altima save them from doing?

1 2