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Facelifted Nissan Altima outed in US

Yes SR: The updated Nissan Altima range brings with it a sporty new SR variant that makes the most of the facelift’s more purposeful looks and has a unique suspension tune.

Mid-life Nissan Altima update brings new look, safety tech and SR sports variant

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Nissan logo24 Sep 2015

UPDATED: 26/09/2015THE Nissan Altima mid-size sedan has been treated to a mid-life facelift, bringing its looks more into line with the Japanese brand’s most recent products, such as the Qashqai and X-Trail crossovers and Murano SUV.

Revealed in the United States, where a sportier SR variant has joined the line-up, the updated Altima gains electronic safety and driver assistance features including predictive forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

Major sheetmetal changes to the front and rear deliver a substantial and more purposeful look compared with the meek and mild looking current Altima.

But don’t expect the more modern looking mid-sizer to be heading Down Under anytime soon, as this facelift is for the US market. Nissan Australia has confirmed that the local version, which is sourced from Thailand, will not carry the new look.

Large L-shaped LED daytime running lights separate a wide version of Nissan’s “V-motion” chrome corporate grille treatment from the reshaped headlights, while a large Nissan badge sits on a background of black grille slats.

The sporty SR variant has a deep front bumper with round fog-lights above a protruding splitter and a large central air intake with a black grid-shaped grille reminiscent of high-performance Audis from a decade ago.

Tail-light clusters now extend into the boot-lid, the chrome trim strip of which no longer extends beyond the numberplate aperture and appears to be more flush-fitting. The previously featureless rear bumper now has a more integrated look and includes a dark-coloured trim piece linking the twin tailpipes.

De-rigeur two-tone alloy wheels complete the refreshed look, which Nissan claims has yielded a 10 per cent reduction in drag (from 0.29Cd to 0.26Cd) partially due to the addition of active grille shutters, underfloor changes and a redesigned windscreen.

Interior tweaks include a redesigned centre stack that is more visually separated from the centre console and features a five-inch touchscreen providing access to internet data functions and apps including Apple Siri voice recognition, and enhanced navigation features through a Bluetooth smartphone connection.

The instruments are separated by a new customisable four-inch colour multi-function display.

Under the skin, Nissan has reduced weight and increasing strength through the application of high-strength steel in areas such as the A- and B-pillars.

The addition of a laminated acoustic windscreen, additional insulation in the firewall, revised engine mounts and a larger centre exhaust muffler are intended to reduce cabin noise and ease Bluetooth phone calls or voice recognition.

Suspension and steering updates have also been applied, comprising new ZF Sachs shock absorbers, rear springs, bushings, tyres and a remapped power steering valve said to enhance feel and feedback from the electro-hydraulic system.

The sporty SR – available with four- and six-cylinder engines – has a unique chassis tune with thicker stabiliser bars and uprated dampers that combine to reduce body roll by a claimed 20 per cent.

Fuel efficiency has also improved, the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine benefiting from reduced internal friction and a revised compression ratio, combining with the improved aerodynamics to shave a tenth off the US highway fuel consumption rating (now 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres). Nissan claims the four-cylinder Altima’s fuel consumption is class-leading on the US market.

The 3.5-litre V6 carries over but the continuously variable automatic transmission has upgraded software, designed to deliver a more responsive standing-start and roll-on acceleration feel.

In Australia, Altima sales are up 1.5 per cent to the end of August with 1174 registered, less than a tenth of the 13,608 Toyota Camrys sold in the same period, but sitting among a group of mid-sizers including the Hyundai i40, Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Octavia all sitting between 1100 and 1500 units in year-to-date volume.

As an indicator of the Camry’s segment dominance, the second-best selling Mazda6 is more than 10,000 units downstream on 3665 sales while the next most popular mid-sizer after that is the Subaru Liberty on 2739.

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