2008 Nissan Altima Coupe
2008 Nissan Altima Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Nissan Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE

The scoop is the coupe: it’s baaaaaack! Perhaps it’s the salt-and-pepper complexion of the buying public, or the trend for folks to retain the title of the ‘Cool’ Aunt or Uncle as long as possible. The point is this; two doors will always trump four in the arena of aesthetics. At issue is where most of the front-drive coupes are coming from; the four-door platform. This week, It’s the top-line trim, the 3.5 SE tester settling in at an MSRP of $41,283, including the Premium package and Navi direction.

The Cockpit

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE
2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE. Click image to enlarge

The steering column receives tilt and telescope, with control tabs on the wheel for cruise, audio, and voice command functions. The smart key fob gets its parking spot to the left of the driver, in the same real estate as the trunk release, and the stability control cancel switch. The manu-shift continuously-variable transmission gate has good action, staying away from steering wheel shifter tabs. The driver’s door gets auto up/down actuators for the front glass, and power positioning for the heated exterior mirrors. An amusing production oversight is the intermittent wiper stalk which controls the ‘Front’ wipers. (There is no rear glass wiper.) Headlamp controls are found on the turn signal stalk, with Auto setting.

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE
2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE. Click image to enlarge
The Centre Stack

Navigation systems are becoming more accessible to the bungalow-born, and the Altima’s $3,000 Navi package pulls out all the stops. Touch-screen, voice tags, even a back-up camera make it into the mix. The screen has a ‘Tilt’ feature, which can provide slight angle adjustments for readability. Keep the key depressed, and the screen servo’s out, revealing the access to the DVD disc slot for the Navi. The six-CD changer is found below the HVAC, with an MP3 jack in close proximity. The Auto climate system gets dual-zone temperature dials, with the ability for driver-only sync. The bottom tray reveals a removable flock-lined coin bucket, and a 12-volt DC powerpoint.


Are you a stuff buff? Empty your pockets into the Altima pockets, which include rear seatbacks, as well as front lower seat cushions. The console cupholder gets two generous cavities, with single-tab cinchers. Rear seat passengers get armrest-mount receptacles, which are impressive in depth. Front door pockets include bottle-sized indents. The locking glovebox is cavernous, with a valet switch for the trunk release. The centre console has two compartments, with removable liners, and a 12-volt powerpoint on the cubby floor. Forget about your hang-ups, with a robust flip-down hanger, hidden well in the rear seat upper trim surround on the passenger side.

The Overhead

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE
2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE
Top photo: The Altima’s visors have extendable sun blockers; Bottom photo: The driver’s seat offers eight-way power adjustment. Click image to enlarge

Visors use extendable sunblockers, with dual oversized backlit vanity mirrors. The sunglass holder also borders on the Gargantuan, as do most of today’s shades. The Premium package includes the Homelink transmitter system on the auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Seat treat

The driver’s seat gets eight-way power glide/recline, with a manual lumbar lever. Front passengers enjoy two-step heat control. The driver can still be a hero for rear passenger ingress/egress, with the location of the upper passenger seat release found on the inboard side of the front passenger bucket.

Spare care

The Altima target customer doesn’t strike me as the temporary spare-hoisting, jack-removing type, which probably explains the lack of such features as a cargo floor bungee. Relax; Nissan will change it for you during the first three years of ownership.

Cargo embargo

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE
2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE. Click image to enlarge

Shop till you drop! Whether it’s MEC or IKEA, the hold is bold for the Altima coupe. The 60/40 folding seatbacks achieve an impressive angle of flat, with the only detractor being the trunk-mounted release tethers. A suggestion would be some spring-loading on the catches. In keeping with the high security rating for the trunk, a keyed lockout is found on the rear parcel shelf.

The mill

The 270-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 appears shoehorned into the engine bay, which will definitely not be your friend in the service bay as the years of ownership progress past the warranty expiration. Consider the 175-horsepower 2.5-litre four instead. Fluid levels are within good reach and clearly marked, with the only exception being the filler neck for the brake fluid reservoir.

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE
2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5 SE Click image to enlarge
The Verdict

The Altima coupe is the 21st century definition of the boulevard cruiser, where the scene is to be seen. The best part is that when you’re being seen, you won’t be fumbling about in an unplanned interior. Fit, finish, and the “Everything In Its Place” rule get tight tolerances throughout. Give me a Two-Five with a stick, and we can seriously talk long-term tester. 5 stars.

Next week: Volkswagen GTI

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