You are here: Home / Car Reviews / Nissan / Altima / The 2008 Nissan Altima Compact Sports Coupe

The 2008 Nissan Altima Compact Sports Coupe

2008 Nissan Altima Overview

We got our first glimpse of this hip sports coupe when it debuted at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show and came out in the summer of 2007. While the fourth-generation Altima sedan was also introduced as an improved and redesigned model, the only part it shares with the coupe is the hood. The Altima coupe has its own styling and, by far, does not come across as a scaled-down version of the sedan - although it is, of course, a smaller and lighter car.

The Altima coupe comes with two engine choices: a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter I4 engine or a 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. There are also two transmission choices available: a six-speed manual transmission or Nissan's Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), which can provide quicker acceleration, better fuel economy, and more useable power by allowing a smoother transition between changing speeds. A CVT has the same controls as the usual automatic transmission. The Altima coupe comes with a front-wheel drive system.

The Altima Coupe is similar to the Nissan Z, only it costs about $3,000 less, thereby making it a budget performance sports coupe affordable to more people. This compact sports coupe is assembled in Smyrna, Tennessee.

For this test, we drove an Altima Coupe S with the 2.5-liter I4 engine and CVT automatic transmission. Our test car came in Dark Slate Charcoal with a total MSRP of $21,780 (plus $75 for floor mats and a delivery charge of $615.00). Some features included are four-wheel independent suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, a trip computer, a rear defogger, power features, cruise control, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, keyless ignition, a diversity antenna, and an auxiliary MP3 audio input. This model's fuel economy is certainly competitive (City: MPG/23, 19 - 27 range, Highway: MPG/31, 26 - 36 range), given the engine, plus, its safety scores are pretty high.

The 2008 Nissan Altima Compact Sports Coupe Exterior

The Altima coupe has its own, hip-styling which is part of it being a good value for its price. In fact, its design is reminiscent of the previous generation Infiniti G35 coupe (which we thought was a very nice car). The styling is a lot more fluid, making us prefer this model over the Nissan Z, which we find to be a little gaudy. This integration in design takes Nissan forward - a definite improvement, if one were to recall its previous, less-harmonious designs from years ago.

The 2008 Nissan Altima Compact Sports Coupe Interior

Inside, this model somewhat mimics its sedan counterpart with its nice, clean layout and simple controls. The interior is calm and comfortable; not exactly luxurious, but more than good enough for the price range. The materials don't have a cheap feel, plus there are no weird combinations of textures whatsoever. Brush metal accents on the steering wheel and center console complement the overall design.

The instrumentation features are logically laid out. There is a "Start/Stop" button to the right of the cowl so you don't need to use a key. The tachometer is located on the left, the speedometer overlaps in the center, and both are in a single cowl with other gauges on the right. In addition, the center stack has a good, logical layout with the entertainment controls located above the ones for the air conditioning. We particularly like the row of three air vents in the center stack.

The Altima coupe's steering wheel has audio, telephone and cruise control buttons on it. It also comes with an auxiliary input jack (a feature we like very much and feel every car should now have), so that you have the convenience of using your choice of MP3 player, or iPod. The Bose sound system provides nice sound, not top-of-the-line, but good enough, given the coupe's MSRP.

The Altima coupe's cloth upholstery seats are comfortable and were great during long drives. The back seat is small and a bit awkward for adults, which is to be expected from a coupe. Adults would have trouble riding in it for long periods of time, although it would be perfect for kids or pets. However there's also the traditional Altima trunk which provides plenty of room to carry stuff.

Forward visibility for this model is good. There are some problems with the rear view, although this is a given for most sports coupes.

The 2008 Nissan Altima Compact Sports Coupe Ride and Handling

The Altima coupe doesn't handle as well as the Nissan Z, although it rides more comfortably. When we test drove the Nissan Z we found the ride a bit harsh. Acceleration with the I4 engine is okay; you'd have to get the V6 if you want more power, although it will cost you an additional $5,000 and more money on gas. Nevertheless, steering on the S package is above average and the handling is pretty well-balanced, considering that it's a front-wheel drive vehicle, so you'll still enjoy the four-cylinder well enough. The Altima coupe actually feels more like a sedan; in fact, cornering would have been acceptable if it wasn't a sports car.

The 2008 Nissan Altima Compact Sports Coupe Performance

The Altima coupe comes with two engine choices: a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter I4 engine or a 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter, V6 engine. It also has two transmission options: a six-speed manual transmission or Nissan-s Xtronic CVT.

Our test car had the I4 engine and while performance was good, it was a little underpowered. If you can afford the V6 - and the accompanying increase in gas consumption - get it as you'll be happier in the long run, though it will be more expensive to buy and operate.

If you want the best handling version, however, buy the SE. It comes with the 3.5-liter V6 engine and the sport-tuned suspension. You could also opt for the six-speed manual transmission instead of the CVT.

The 2008 Nissan Altima Compact Sports Coupe Safety

The Altima coupe is equipped with safety and security features such as ventilated front disc and solid rear disc brakes which keeps the brakes cool for better stopping. There is a full-set of airbags for both the front and rear passengers, a tire-pressure monitoring system, a security system with an immobilizer, a four-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), an engine immobilizer, and child seat anchors. NHTSA gave the Altima coupe four stars out of five in frontal crash tests and five stars out of five in side crash and rollover tests - not five-star all around but still quite good.

The 2008 Nissan Altima Compact Sports Coupe Conclusion

The Altima coupe is a good commuter and has great value for a sport coupe. This model has hip styling and a good range of standard equipment. It's also a good way to get into a V6 powered sport coupe (if you opt for the V6) that's new with a warranty, as opposed to buying a used late model one, like a Nissan Z. Overall, Nissan builds good quality products, especially in this price range. Many people forget about the brand when they are shopping, which is unfortunate because their products are a good value. But for those that do remember to consider the brand, they can take advantage of the many good deals that are available.

Pros: Good price for a sporty four-cylinder coupe with great design. The V6 is a real bargain for a high-performance coupe. Materials are not high-end, but nothing looks weird or out of place, plus the interior's layout is simple and easy-to-use.

Cons: Not many. Not a high-end fit and finish on the interior. Has some problems with the rear view and is not for those who need to seat adult passengers in the rear seats, although this is to be expected from coupes.

Ratings (1 - 10):
Style: 8
Performance: 8
Price: 9
Handling: 8
Ride: 8
Comfort: 7
Quality: 8
Overall: 8