Nissan Maxima: Quick comfort

nissan maxima
(Photos: Nissan)
An unlikely sports saloon, the big, front-drive Nissan Maxima has nevertheless long earned a strong reputation as a quick performer and a comfortable cruiser in certain parts of the Middle East. The Maxima’s sporting tradition strays from that of rear-drive, compact premium European cars often associated with the vague “sports saloon” label. That said, it does share dynamic similarities with the Audi A6 saloon and its A7 “four-door-coupe” sister. Nevertheless, the Maxima’s comfort-oriented character and muscular performance make it better classed alongside larger American saloons, like the rear-drive Dodge Charger and the front-drive Chevrolet Impala.اضافة اعلان

Introduced in 2015 and face-lifted in 2019, the current generation Maxima sports a lower roofline and more overtly aggressive aesthetic than previous models. This model may well be the largest and most luxurious of Nissan’s current saloons, but it is not necessarily the most practical. While a rakishly low roofline certainly adds a dramatic flair, it shortchanges rear headroom and luggage capacity, even compared with some of Nissan’s own smaller saloon models.

If not fully committed to the trendy “four-door-coupe” designation touted by other manufacturers, the Maxima’s lower roofline nonetheless provides a more coupe-like profile than more traditionally upright large saloons. The car’s sporting styling also includes a long swooping bonnet, defined rear haunches, sculpted surfacing, a short rear deck, quad exhaust ports, and wide wheel arches proportional to its large 19-inch alloy wheels. In revised guise, the Maxima adopts a hungrier and more aggressive evolution of Nissan’s V-Motion grille design, a sharper, more jutting bumper treatment, and more aggressively scowling headlights.

Smooth and seamless
Despite giving way to more modern turbocharged engines in many Nissan group vehicles, the Japanese manufacturer’s naturally aspirated 3.5-liter VQ-series V6 engine remains well-suited for the Maxima, and for providing big power through the front wheels. Smooth and high-revving, it is eager yet refined in delivery, and unleashes power in a seamlessly incremental and exact fashion to minimize the torque steer often associated with powerful front-drive cars. This is especially useful for avoiding unintentionally overpowering the Maxima’s front-wheel grip when accelerating out of bends.

Responsive throughout its rev range, the Maxima’s V6 produces 304HP at 6,400rpm and 354Nm torque at 4,400rpm. It is however progressive in character rather than peaky, with plenty of mid-range overtaking versatility. The engine is meanwhile complemented with a similarly smooth continuously variable transmission (CVT) system that alters ratios on a sliding scale rather than making distinct shifts. Operating to keep engine revs within an efficient band for economical driving, low rev cruising, and mid-range flexibility, CVT systems are not typically associated with sports cars.

That said, the Maxima is not an outright sports saloon, but instead a sporty yet comfortable saloon adept at carrying speed through long bends and straights rather than keeping swift pace through intricate and narrow switchbacks. However, its CVT features selectable pre-set ratios that somewhat mimic a regular gearbox, and a ‘sport’ driving mode that optimizes its transmission for improved responses. While CVT cannot replicate the visceral interaction and connectedness of a traditional gearbox, it has unique characteristics, including a ‘slingshot’ sensation as ratios alter to match a steadier engine speed under hard acceleration.

Low-slung luxury
Swiftly pouncing through 0–100km/h in a seamless sweep estimated at 6-seconds, the Maxima is meanwhile a capable high-speed cruiser that is refined, well-insulated, and in its element on fast motorways. It confidently and comfortably dispatches long distances and is forgiving over most imperfections, despite its large, low-profile 245/40R19 tires. During test drive, it proved surprisingly supple and vertically settled over one particularly rough stretch of highway, but was slightly firm over sudden and small-yet-sharp speed bumps.

Sportier than most big, nose-heavy front-wheel-drive competitors, the Maxima turns into corners with tidy accuracy and reassuring grip. Its fast 2.63-turn steering is direct and well-weighted for ease of use, with a sufficiently sporty feel and heft. The Maxima well-contains cornering body roll and is able to carry impressive speeds through long bends. Confident through corners, it is designed for reassuring road-holding rather than nimble agility and mid-corner adjustability. Nevertheless, its front grip threshold is more resilient to under-steer than anticipated.

The Maxima’s distinctly premium cabin is spacious in front, with driver-oriented layouts, controls, and presentation, including a sporty flat-bottom steering wheel. With comfortable and supportive SR-specification quilted leather seats and good front visibility, its rear sightlines are supplemented by a standard rear camera. Further driver assistance features, including blind spot warning, rear cross path alert, and lane keeping systems, are available in high-spec equipment packages. Rear headroom and luggage volume are good by low-slung “four-door-coupe” standards, but could be more spacious for a more traditional large saloon.

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