Maxima are the utmost quantifiable objects in science. Also define as flagship in Nissan.
In mathematics, maxima are a plural of maximum. A maximum can be viewed as a point on the graph of a function at which it has the highest value within an interval. If the function is a smooth continuous curve, the maximum is a turning point, that is, the slope of the tangent to the curve changes continuously from positive to negative. If the function of the curve continues to concave up indefinitely, it defines as infinity.
In Nissan terms, Maxima is the pinnacle of Nissan’s product lineup at which it has the highest significance within its own line of Versa, Sentra, and Altima sedan family. Under Nissan’s umbrella, anything beyond the Maxima would be an Infiniti as proven in the aforementioned mathematical definition. Nissan GT-R, though, cannot be defined by any means. That’s why it is called the GOD-zilla – it is beyond infinity.
We have proven the factual fact on Nissan, exactly how impressive is the Maxima?
Background – the concaving curve begins with the Datsun 810
This impressiveness began in 1980 when the Maxima emblem first appeared on the 1980 Datsun 810 (chassis code: 910). The 810 was offered as Deluxe and Maxima trim levels. Nissan had the 810 model nomenclature complicated though. It had Datsun, Nissan, 810, and Maxima emblems all on the same car. Is it a Datsun or Nissan? Is it an 810 or Maxima? To simplify this marketing mayhem, in 1982 all 810s became Maximas, and in 1984 Datsun officially became Nissan. The 1980 to 1984 Datsun 810/Nissan Maxima were considered as the first generation.
The 910 (okay…okay… 1980 to 1984 Datsun 810/Nissan Maxima) was basically a 4-door 280ZX sports car; just like how today’s Nissan 370Z and Infiniti G37 sedan are related. The 910 shared the 280ZX platform, suspension, and powertrain layouts. The front end consists of conventional MacPherson struts, and independent semi-trailing arms in the rear with standard 4-wheel disc brakes. A 12-valve 2.4L inline-6 on electronic fuel injection gasoline engine (L24E) was fitted, driving the rear wheels via 5-spd MT or a 4-spd Jatco AT. The L24E pumped out generous 120 hp @ 5,200 rpm, and 134 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm. An inline-6 2.8L diesel (LD28) that generated, not so efficient, 80 hp @ 4,600 rpm, and 148 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm was offered as an option. The 910 was the last rear wheel drive Maxima.
The 2nd generation (chassis code: U11) was released in 1985. The U11 was available as a 4-door sedan, and was the last Maxima to offer 5-door station wagon version. Mechanically, the U11 was powered by a 3.0L V-6 (VG30E) engine that produced 157 hp, and mated to either a 5-spd MT or 4-spd AT driving the front wheels.
This basic formula was maintain throughout the Maxima’s progression – four-door sedan, front wheel drive power by Nissan’s top of line V6 engine, and innovative features in each generation from the “talking lady” voice warning in the 910, heated and power front seats, and sonar suspension system on the U11 in 1985, the digital touch entry system in the 3rd generation to the recent Skyview fixed glass paneled roof that runs down the center of the roof in the 6th generation.
The Maxima is also deliberated as the “4DSC” 4-Door Sports Car. The 4th generation (1995 to 1999) could sprint from 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds with a quarter mile time of 15.2 seconds at 92.4 mph – very respectable number for a family sedan in that era. The 4th generation also earned Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year for 1995, and honored by Car and Driver Magazine’s Ten Best List in both 1995 and 1996.
The fine specimen featured here is the seventh generation in the making, this all-new Maxima (chassis code: A35) was debuted at the 2008 New York International Auto Show and went on sale in the same year as a 2009 model. The “4DSC” 4-Door Sports Car name was reused on the 7th generation to re-secure its established sportiness. In contrary to the bigger-and-bigger trend, the A35 has half inch lower roof height, 1.5” wider stance, and 3.8” shorter wheelbase with only 1.9” reduction in wheelbase than the previous model. Overall, the A35 now stands 57.8” tall, 73.2” wide, and 190.6” long. The 109.3” of wheelbase contains the 95.8 cu-ft passenger compartment, and a 14.2 cu-ft trunk.
In 2012, the A35 offers two trim levels: 3.5S & 3.5SV. Being the flagship sedan, optional equipment is minimal; the S trim level already included a lot of them as standard. The optional limited edition package in the 3.5S comes with tinted HID headlights, fog lights, 18” dark hyper silver alloy wheels, rear spoiler, and some miscellaneous trim treatments. If the standard equipments aren’t sporty enough the Sport Package can be added to the 3.5SV model, where the notable features are sport-tuned suspension, 245/40VR19 high performance tires, and rear bucket seats.
Our Smyrna, Tennessee built tester is the 3.5S model in Winter Frost color has $ 33,395 MSRP including destination fee.
Impression – Development Goals vs. Finishing Product
Nissan has the following goals in mind when they were developing the A35:
“High targets were established for the development … including the goal of creating the best
performing front engine, front-wheel drive car in the world, along with the goals of class-leading acceleration, braking, handling, craftsmanship and cockpit design.”
“…interior design team developed an interior concept of “Super Cockpit” – imparting the feeling of sports car with controls ergonomically close, yet with ample roominess and comfort for both driver and passengers.”
“The breakthrough exterior design … imparts a feeling of “liquid motion,” which combines an aggressive stance and powerful fender design – not unlike many exotic sports cars on the market today.”
In our 850 miles test route from San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles via I-5, we evaluated how the A35 carry out these development goals. Are they just marketing hypes; like how Toyota publicized its torsion beam rear suspension in the Corolla as the recipe for precise handling in its brochure?
Handling & Ride Characteristics – Claim: Class leading handling. Check.
Without further ado, first up in the evaluation – ride and handling. In the front end of Nissan’s D-platform is a pair of MacPherson struts mounted onto the strut towers that are part of the rigid cross-type upper cowl structure. Connected to the stiff subframe are the aluminum lower control arms to reduce undesirable unsprung weight. The rear end consists of independent multi-link double wishbone setup with aluminum lower arms that house the springs, and shock absorbers separately to minimize friction. The locations of the shocks are in line with the center of the rear wheels to better enhance damping quality and reduces harshness. Completing the handling mechanism, a 21 mm anti-roll bar is fitted in the rear, and a rather massive direct acting 25.4 mm bar is found in the front.
As the Maxima’s full-size EPA classification statue suggested, the Maxima is a big car. Its front end supports sixty-one percent of its curb weight, has to transmits its almighty power to the ground, and the front end needs to behave properly for picky Nissan enthusiasts who understand the art of driving.
Suspension tuning supports its “4DSC” slogan. The solid chassis structure allows the suspensions to do its work. The width of the car also aids the flat cornering attribute. As the result, body roll is minimal. The Maxima feels confidently planted, and connected. The balance of the suspension can be felt in the medium speed cornering. When pushed, all four tires squeal equally, suggested that grips are generated evenly on a set of fairly wide and grippy P245/45R18, Goodyear Eagle RS-A, high performance all-season tires.
Nissan did a great job on the steering department. Road feel transmitted through the twin orifice vehicle-speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion power steering system is accurate. The use of wide tires does however take away some on-center feel. The short 15.2:1 steering ratio and 2.57 lock-to-lock turn offers quickness in response resulting in more direct steering input. Drivers who are used to dull, sluggish steering will need time to calibrate for this text book standard responsiveness.
Torque steer is noticeable in the Maxima but never as severe as a Mazdaspeed 3 that arm wrestles you every time you smash the throttle. The torque steer in the Maxima feel as a gentle pull on the wheel. It is not desirable but that is the nature of any powerful front wheel drive would do. Despite that we would prefer a little jerk on the wheel instead of the use of electronic limited slip differential to turn engine power into brake dust.
Implementations have been incorporated to combat torque steer. The drive axles are equal length, and angled parallel to the ground. Nissan also further reduce the magnitude of the torque steer by employing a 6-point engine mounting system that contains two conventional solid and two electronically controlled mounts, and a pair of anti-torque rods. Each dedicated to counter the twisting motion of the engine to securely restraint the engine in the stiff engine bay.
However, the solidness does transmit some minor engine vibration into the passenger compartment. Particularly when starting the car using the push button start, the driver could feel the jolt on the brake pedal when the engine comes alive. We consider this as a communicative character, signaling the car is alive and ready.
If all these passive measures aren’t sufficient for one to control the beast, Traction Control System (TCS) and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) are standard on the Maxima if they determine you are having way too much fun. We didn’t experience their intrusion during our spirited hard cornering. Threshold is programmed much higher than anticipated. These brake based save-the-day system is also defeatable.