The Altima Coupe is the sportiest-looking model to come out of Nissan's factory since the iconic 350Z. Nissan promises that the two-door version of its midsize sedan will deliver "true performance, true technology, true coupe." The last of these claims is irrefutable: with its raked fastback roofline and flowing shoulders, the Altima Coupe marks a bold styling departure from the staid lines of the sedan. Aesthetes may disagree over the car's bulbous rear-end styling, which, depending on your school of thought, is either a dashing, Infiniti-inspired touch of style or a flabby appendage that looks like an aftermarket body kit.
Test the tech: Tunitas Creek Road
The Altima Coupe may look like a sports car, but we had our doubts about whether the front-wheel drive model would actually perform like one. To settle the matter decisively, we set out toward one of our favorite proving grounds south of San Francisco by the name of Tunitas Creek Road. It is difficult to overemphasize the demands that this forest trail high up in the Portola Valley puts on cars during spirited driving. With its corkscrew corners, blind bends, and hairpin turns, the serpentine Tunitas Creek Road is less of a race track than a rally course--the perfect place to test the mettle of the Altima Coupe.
Driving Skyline at around 50 mph, we had a chance to see how the Altima Coupe responded to cornering at speed and short bursts of acceleration and braking. While were impressed with the ability of the punchy four-cylinder engine to get us up to speed quickly, and by the linear quality of the brakes when approaching a turn, we were underwhelmed with the Altima Coupe's handling ability on corner exits. The Altima demonstrated considerable understeer lunging into corners and requiring us to constantly overextend in steering to push the car through the bends.