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New York show: Nissan rolls out all-new Altima

Baby, come back: Nissan Australia has no current plans to reintroduce the Altima mid-size sedan, which is now in its sixth generation.

Nissan Altima remains off Australian radar as sixth-generation model breaks out

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Nissan logo29 Mar 2018

By JUSTIN HILLIARD

NISSAN has ushered in its sixth-generation Altima mid-size sedan at the New York motor show this week, with two new engines, expanded safety features and a comprehensive redesign stealing the headlines.

However, the latest Altima is an unlikely starter for Australia, with Nissan Australia corporate communications manager Tony Mee previously confirming the news to GoAuto earlier this month.

“Nissan Australia will consider all new products as they become available, however at the moment there are no current plans to reintroduce Altima,” he said.

Nevertheless, the Altima draws clear inspiration from the Vmotion 2.0 concept – shown at the 2017 Detroit motor show – for its exterior design, which includes an enlarged version of the Japanese car-maker’s signature Vmotion front grille.

Similarly, boomerang-style LED headlights and tail-lights characterise the front and rear ends, which are connected by an array of heavy creases and angles as well as a ‘floating’ roof panel.

Inside, Nissan’s premium aspirations are evident with the Altima stepping up to a cockpit layout that could easily be mistaken for the Mazda6.

Lashings of leather, wood trim and soft-touch materials abound, while a free-standing 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.

The 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol engine from the former model is gone, replaced by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit that produces 185kW of power and 370Nm of torque.

Significantly, this powertrain – dubbed VC-Turbo – is shared with the Infiniti QX50 mid-size SUV (albeit in a higher 200kW/380Nm state of tune) and is recognised as the world’s first production turbo-petrol four-pot with variable compression.

Alternatively, the 2.5-litre atmo four-cylinder petrol engine has been overhauled with 80 per cent new or redesigned parts, with outputs of 140kW and 244Nm, up 7kW and 4Nm.

Additionally, an all-wheel-drive system is offered with the Altima for the first time, providing all-weather traction for naturally aspirated variants only, while turbocharged variants exclusively send drive to the front wheels.

Advanced driver-assist safety technologies extend to forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, lane departure warning, steering assist, high beam assist, driver attention alert, traffic sign recognition and 360-degree cameras.

According to Nissan North America senior vice-president and chairman of management committee Denis Le Vot, the Altima was planned to disrupt its segment – particularly with the availability of all-wheel drive.

“This new Altima builds on 25 years and more than 5.6 million Altima sales to date – but to us, this is just a starting point,” he said.

“That's why we decided to shake up the mid-size segment in terms of design, driving enjoyment and technologies that are advanced and affordable.

“We saw that the lack of available all-wheel drive has been a key factor in pushing US buyers who prefer sedans to compact SUVs.

“Of the top three selling mid-size sedans in the US, only Altima will offer all-wheel drive. We expect this to be a key sales driver, especially for customers in the northern part of the country.”

In the US, the Altima will be available across five grades – S, SR, SV, SL and Platinum – with the 2.5-litre unit as standard, while the SR and Platinum grades will also be offer with the 2.0-litre engine. Sales begin in the fourth quarter this year.

The previous Altima was dropped from Nissan Australia’s model line-up early last year due to slowing sales, and while it is has been ruled out for now, the door remains open for the mid-sizer to return in the future.

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