Road Test: Nissan Maxima Ti
By Damien Tomlinson - 28/04/05
Model: Maxima Ti
Transmission: 4-speed auto
Engine: Vee 6-cylinder, 4-valve, petrol
Fuel Consumption: Combined city/highway:
Safety: Driver and front passenger airbags, front
side curtain airbags, front side (thorax) airbags, rear
side curtain airbags, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle
Dynamic Control (VDC)
I like Nissan's new Maxima. This is a car that has taken
many shapes during the many years it's been available in Australia,
designed to be a cut above the rest, and offering next-gen
features unavailable in its peers.
A friend of mine has one that's 14 years old; it's got a
12 CD stacker, power windows and climate control air-conditioning,
and it goes like a dream.
So it was with not a little bit of excitement that I negotiated
a week-long stay aboard the Good Ship Maxima with our friends
The first thing you notice about this car is its "Nissan-ness",
albeit the new-age flavour. Hard but smooth lines, big proportions
and an overall fresh feel. Nice big doors, and a satisfying
thud once you're in.
There's no doubt, the brainiacs at Nissan want you Fairmont
or Calais buyers to consider this car when it comes time for
The expanse of the dash before you is a delight at first
glance - a long, solid section of timber (-look) panelling,
a TV-like central display and a simple, elegant automatic
The seats in the Ti (one model down from the Ti-L, which
gains a DVD entertainment system and rear proximity sensors)
can only be described as cloud-like, electric leather luxury.
Quite honestly, these could be the most comfortable leather
seats I've sampled this side of the extraordinary Jaguar
The Ti is a cut above the $39,990 base-level ST-L, adding
a sunroof, full leather, a 6-speaker, 6-stacker CD player,
overhead console, adjustable rear headrests and side curtain
airbags. Considering the jump up to the Ti-L, my example would
have to be the volume-seller in this crowd.
Here's the first of my few gripes about this car: despite
the added fruit above its poor, I-couldn't-afford-the-Ti cousin,
there is no easily discernible way to tell the difference
from the outside.
measures almost 4.9 metres
long, and offers plenty of interior space
Nissan VQ35DE 3.5-litre V6
The fuel injected vee 6-cylinder engine has a
3.5-litre (3498cc) capacity and both the cylinder
heads and the engine block are made from aluminium
alloys. Quad camshafts (DOHC per cylinder bank)
actuate 4-valves per cylinder and make use of
variable valve timing (VVT) for improved fuel
economy. A compression ratio of 10.3:1 allows
95 octane petrol (regular unleaded) to be used,
which fills a a big 70 litre fuel tank.
Max Power: 170kW @ 5600rpm
Max Torque: 333Nm @ 2800rpm
The ambience in the Maxima's
cabin is relaxed
and quite luxurious, the dash design a highlight
Worse still if you forked out the extra $3000 for the top-of-the-line
model - all three models have the same available paint schemes
and the same 17-inch alloy wheels (with 215/55 R17 tyres).
Now I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I speak for
most of the general motoring public when I say that if I've
shelled out the extra coin for an upgraded model, I want more
than a silver model designation on the back to distinguish
me from the also-rans.
Holden cleverly uses subtle body kits, wheel designs and
taillight clusters to distinguish its range -- could be some
lessons here for Nissan.
But apart from that, there's not a lot to fault about the
outside of Nissan's big car. Everything is styled "safely":
no Bangle-esque "uniquity" here, just clean lines
that neither challenge nor overly inspire.
It's a pleasant design, and there are obvious design cues
aimed at drawing the genealogical line between this and Nissan's
other sedan range, the Pulsar. From front and back, you can
certainly tell the cars are related.
Nissan has banged in its impressive VQ35DE 3.5-litre V6,
borrowed from the sizzling 350Z.
The mill produces 170kW of power @ 5600rpm and 333Nm of torque
@ 2800rpm, which isn't bad for a motor of this capacity.
Nissan claims 11.2 litres/100km (combined city and highway
driving) from the 70-litre fuel tank, which is pretty good
for a car this size.
The only negative with the engine is that it's mated to a
four-speed automatic transmission, which offers no semi-automatic
It would've been nice to put this engine through its paces
with a bit more control, but considering how comfortable I
was in the plush pew, I was happy to try out this latest offering
exercising only my right ankle.
In the performance department, I was not disappointed with
the 1480kg Maxima. The engine is super-quiet, which means
it sneaks up and bites a bit when you first punch it. The
Maxima will lurch off the line, announcing itself with little
more than a hum from the (hidden) exhausts, a bit like the
old Holden Ecotec 3.8-litre V6, but with less noise.
Once you're off the mark, the Maxima seems to find its groove
quickly. As with many 4-speed autos, third gear is the most
While the car will sit in fourth during general cruising,
little more than a brush on the go pedal will produce a smooth
kickdown and access to a few more revs in third, which is
particularly handy at highway speeds.
The emphasis with the suspension and handling on this car
is all about rocking the kids to sleep and providing as little
as possible jarring over the ripples, so as you can imagine,
it's quite supple to drive.
There is noticeable, but not outrageous, body roll around
roundabouts and into some aggressive turns, but once the Maxima
squats, it stays, tending not to bounce you out the back of
the corner, but hunkering down and letting you power through.
Definitely one of this car's stronger, and most unexpected,
It's a big car too. At 4.8 metres long, it's in the big family
car category, which will please Aussie families thinking finally
about pinging off that awful Avalon or considering a change
from the big Fords and Holdens.
My only concern with what Nissan's tried to do with the Maxima
- that is, create a big car with modern features and creature
comforts and a high level of standard equipment - comes at
For instance, to create that wonderfully comfortable leather-clad
cabin, the budgeteers have cut back in what I call a crucial
area: the "feel" of things, something I'm most passionate
I hate nothing more than textured plastic which looks padded,
but is rock-hard, and unfortunately, there is plenty of this
stuff inside the Maxima. Storage slots in the doors are flexible,
giving not a lot of a feel of substantiality, and your fist
will knock on hard plastic, rather than thud on padding, on
most other interior surfaces.
Also, while the timber-look panelling on the dash, coupled
with lashings of aluminium and the leather, creates a warm,
classy cabin, I can't help but think it'll be "uncool"
all too soon as car design moves ahead (my brother's got an
all-blue interior 1986 Celica - what were they thinking?).
Nissan's new Maxima has hit the market at just the right
time. While it was 18 months ago now, the car has settled
in nicely, lifting from where the previous model left off
in the race for the family and medium-corporate dollar.
The gripes above are the practical necessities Nissan's designers
had to face when they decided to pump a lot of quality into
a sub-$50,000 family sedan, and with that in mind, it's easier
to applaud the company for its successes than berate it for
Sure, the Maxima won't compare to the much more expensive
luxury sedans it's emulating, but it feels a lot nicer than
the Fairmont or Calais, in several key areas. And if that's
its purpose - to offer a real alternative to buyers of the
home-grown makes - it does a cracker job, and should definitely
make many short-lists.
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