VW Vortex - Volkswagen Forum banner
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,433 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was at the subie dealership getting a new rear wiper for my winter beater and seeing as Nissan was nearby I thought I'd take a look at the new Altima. Young sales guy spots me looking and asked if I wanted to try it out. Um, sure . On paper this car sounds like a rocket and it could be a "next car" .
The test loop :
These guys are positioned conviently right off the freeway where the city ends and the long stretch begins. 5km's of nice straighaways and a few corners. Then its a return trip through the country side, 2 lane older slightly broken blacktop with all sorts of turns and one real nice 90 degree bend towards the end. Then back on the hwy for 2 offramps and into the dealer.
1st drive : 2002 Altima 3.5ltr auto
240 HP [246 TORQUE]
All the 5 spd's have been sold in advance, pretty obvious grandpa isn't buying them up. The car I drove was a base V6, which is to say decently loaded. Leather , sunroof and stereo are options. Comfy seats and a good mix of grippy contours without crushing your kidneys on the way to work.
Up the off ramp and away we went. Shame I didn't have a 5 speed to work with but it was nice to evaluate the auto tranny. I have NEVER in my life driven a car with such a smooth shifting automatic. Driven sedately you are hard pressed to feel where the shifts take place. Its really quite incredible and the way it should be. This tranny has the gated shift a la jaguar that every upscale Japanese maker has copied but unlike the jag its easy to use for the first time. I tried playing with the manual mode in the country but gave up because I found it distracting and didn't want to total the car.
Back to the highway jaunt. The big news about this car is the engine. Supposedly its been yanked from the Maxima and lost a few HP along the way.... I suspect its the same story as the Camero/Corvette where the big brother refuses to be upstaged. I'm sure the aftermarket will enjoy "rediscouvering" the HP.
The motor :
Did I push the car ? A little. Honestly the sales guy told me to "check out the power in this thing" How very nice of him to say that. You floor it, the car downshifts and takes off. I never exceeded 160km [100 mph] but let me say it just charges from the speed limit to 160 in a hurry. I wouldn't say it will lose a 1.8t or VR6 but I bet it will do some damage in the higher speeds. On the rural route I turned off trac control and tromped it off the line. Easily breaks the tires loose. I bet you could light them up in a 5sp. The auto shifts at redline by the way, and still smoothly at full throttle.
Check out the fuel economy , almost a full litre more motor than the VR6 but equally good mileage
11.2/8.2 litres/100km (25/34) mpg
For reference my 95 Jetta GLX uses 10.7 litre per 100 km [ lower in metric is better for you US guys]
After my jaunt around the block the trip computer said it averaged 12.3 ltr/100km's . Still over 20 mpg driving rather aggressively. I love technology. My previous Japanese sports cars came in around 18mpg on a good day.
Road handling :
The 3.5 comes with 17's and 215/55HR17 tires . This car handles just great for something that rolled out of the showroom. MUCH higher than any VW or probably any Nissan that didn't say "Z" somewhere on it. Someone's done their homework . I would say this car has the perfect balance between great handling and comfort while still having lots of feedback from the road. Not as stiff as my GLX [ Neuspeed sports with Bilstein + 28mm sway bar ] but not too far off either. If they'd had told me it was aftermarket suspension I'd have believed it.
It drives very nicely on the hwy and will make a great long distance car. On the backroads it handled the broken pavement nicely, you could feel the pavement but it was not annoying. Not bad for a car with 17's. Very impressive for what you get out of the box.
The brakes are worth mentioning as well. Great, period. Doesn't have the intial bite of say a 1.8t but its much more moderated and no less effective. I bet they will haul this car down from 150 mph effectively.
The interior :
Its alright. I'd get the leather as it makes a night and day difference. The dash is nice and all but the doors seem to be afterthoughts and a little plasticy. Oh well,the door handles aren't what gives 240 hp.
Final word :
A really great car. If my Jetta were to go bye-bye today I'd take this car over the new Jetta. With leather its still cheaper [$30,500 Canadian $19ish US] than a VR6 Jetta which I think is about $34k
I am a little dissapointed. Not much but a little. All in all its a really nice car but it doesn't feel as powerful as a 240hp car should. I've owned a '89 supra turbo ~ 232 hp which was 600lbs heavier and it felt and WAS faster. The Altima is 3200lbs , not much more than my 95 Jetta but yet it doesn't feel that much faster and with 60hp more it should. As I said earlier I bet it really shines at higher speed. Above 100 mph it probably pulls hard to 140 or whatever the speed limiter is set at.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,433 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (Lexi)

Next at bat
Sentra SE-R Spec V
Initial impressions:
They had a red example parked outside which I spied from inside the showroom. On the front 1/4 next to the door is a big SE-R badge. Honestly I had never seen this car in the flesh and I mistook it for another Accord Type R or Corrolla Vtec wanna be.
The car looks sporty without looking too tacky. Boy-racer for sure but nothing like a cavalier with a supra wing or anything. The interior is a different story. This one had a red seats and side panels. The seats had a black fishnet pattern overtop. Overkill but not terribly bad. Guys with Accord V8 Type R Temple of Vtec edition Honda's will be in heaven however.
The SE-R comes in black/silver/red & blue. The interior comes in red or red, I hear red matches blue paint pretty badly. The sales guy said they have one out back and its fugly. That was stupid Nissan, if you wanted to cut costs then you should have made the base color of the seats grey.

The seats are a little uglier in real life. The fish-net is WAY more apparent , kind of like they let an early 80's Madonna help out.
Time for the test drive :
This is a 4 cyl. It sure buzzes like one. That's why I like 6's , they sing. BUT, its a 4 that makes 175 hp. Unlike so many Honda's this motor makes power down low. For a 4 I like it. Off the line its got oomph.
Did I mention the transmission only comes as a 6sp ? Cool ! I've never driven a 6sp before . Nissan once again has done its homework on this car. Since young clutch dropping dudes will no doubt comprise the bulk of sales Nissan has decided to save itself warranty claims and installed a beefy clutch. Let it out a little too fast and it grabs and grabs hard. Very nice. This clutch not only engages quickly its going to last a long time. I bet it will be able to hold the inevitable supercharger kit the tuners build for it
Very VERY smart Nissan !
The downside ~ There's always one, not much of one here. It takes some getting used to a 6 sp. I had trouble finding 6th several times. Maybe I was just paranoid of dropping it in reverse at 120k's [ I'm sure the syncro's would have protested long before I could actually engage the gear ] It takes practice but eventually you'll get it. So really the only downside is new drivers will be disstracted by the new manoevering.
That said, its a great shifter that's nice and tight. 6th is more than just a cruising gear as you can accerlerate with it. The spacing is much different than my Jetta. 3rd dies off at 120 [74 mph] and 4th is a little too low to pick up right away.
Handling : Top notch. Nissan has done it again . The big difference between this car and the Altima is Nissan WANTS you to feel every bump. The car handles just great, like it already has a full aftermarket setup. I did some quick left and right jerks to the wheel at 130 and the car responds wonderfully. The 215/45/17's don't hurt. The end of the country loop has a really nice 90 bend. I took it at speed and the Sentra handled it beyond my expectation. This car will quickly inspire confidence. I'm curious who Nissan has purchased suspension from.
Brakes : ok , Nissan skimped here. They are alright but a tad lacking. I guess you have to cut corners somewhere. This is the ONLY area that needs upgrading.
Interior : Little chinsy but hey its a compact and its very affordable.
Final note.
I would say this is THE BEST BARGAIN in the compact segment today. It sells for $22k Canadian , just shy of $14k US. Its $3000 less than a Golf 1.8t GLS and base car to base car overall its a better buy. Get the Golf to handle as well with suspension and rims/tires and the gap is probably close to $5000 more.
For all you out there who are insured by $%&-ing companies that charge a premuim because you installed aftermarket rims, because you installed a body kit, because you installed suspension, because you installed a sub box..... this is the car to get. You can say with a straight face the car is stock, not one addition because it comes with all that from birth.
Anyone who jumped on the Mazda MP3 bandwagon is going to be mighty pi$$sed once they find out . This car is $3000 cheaper and has 25hp more. It looks better and at least compared to the MP5 wagon I drove, it drives a ton better.
HONDA BEWARE : The new Si-R better be damm good because the SE-R already is. Its fast , has great handling and has tons of appeal. I test drove the previous version Si-R a few months ago when a friend was looking. They wanted $26k for a 1 year old Civic that really felt plastiky. Nissan must have bought one , modded it and said " How can we make the Sentra handle like this stock and let's make sure we'll win on the drag strip."
This will make one great autocross car. Buy the car, pump up the air pressure and go racing, its that easy. Couldn't afford the WRX ? Come to Nissan and we'll knock off $13,000 off the price. Not quite as fast but its handles like a dream.

The final chapter.
As my Jetta is stored for the winter I had my girlfriend's 2001 Golf 1.8t . I thought it would be best to compare the two Nissan's fairly and drove the same route with the Golf.
Intial impression. The golf has more oomph off the line, you can feel the turbo kick in and pull. Her's is a late 2001 so maybe its closer to 2002 specs ?? Its certainly more powerful and faster than the SE-R. Up to 160 it doesn't give much to the Altima. I've never had the golf past 200 or the Altima past 160 but I think displacement will eventually win out.

The handling sucks on the golf though. Yes it has winter tires on it but the factory 15's weren't any better. Turn hard.... lean lean lean. Bank around the corner... lean lean lean. Not like there's any shortage of suspension components though.
Braking power : Golf kicks the Sentra's butt and is just a bit better than the Altima. Can't wait to upgrade the crappy brakes on my Jetta.
Interior : Golf is more upscale to the Sentra no questions asked. Probably on par with the Altima but your comparing German apples to Japanese pears. It depends on what flavour you enjoy better.
One downside to the Altima. The radio is unique and curves along with the dash. I like to tear out factory radios, maybe you don't but I like having that option. They make a great 6 disk in-dash changer but its SO overpriced.
Whaddoo-I-think ? I wouldn't trade the golf for the sentra but if I coudln't afford the golf I would get the sentra as its a steal. As I said, its easily the winner by far in its category. Mazda sales will drop like a rock I predict. Hyundai's Tiburon is still plain ugly and Toyota has yet to introduce the Matrix. I don't think its going to beat it in performance and certainly not price.
The altima is just great, I also wouldn't trade it for my '95 Jetta and the Jetta still has nicer leather than the altima [ door panels are faux leather by the way ]
BUT , I think its a better buy than the current jetta, 1.8t or VR6. $3000-5000 cheaper depending on options and don't forget 17's are standard. I really hope these engines need breaking in. If I had to get a new car I would take a serious look at it. Yes its not a VW but its still a great car , I haven't starred at it long enough to know if I like the looks.
Nissan has really done well with these two cars. The Z is coming out in the not too distant future as well. Remember the last time Japan started to pump out great cars like the Supra TT, MR2 Turbo, 300z twin turbo, RX-7 ?? I think its happening all over again
And this time there's 10 more years of technology under the hoods....


[Modified by Lexi, 10:28 PM 12-1-2001]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
801 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (Lexi)

No issues with torque steer? Because in every road test I could read there was complaints about torque steer with the V6. IMO the Altima is better balanced with the base engine.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,292 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (Lexi)

quote:[HR][/HR]Shame I didn't have a 5 speed to work with but it was nice to evaluate the auto tranny. I have NEVER in my life driven a car with such a smooth shifting automatic.[HR][/HR]​
Just wait till you drive Audi Multitronic!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,172 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (TabulaRasa)

Smooth shifting automatic? I'll loan you a Buick

Seriously, though, the SE-R sounds cool.
And VW always does its homework on brakes nowdays. Nice braking power.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
920 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (Lexi)

quote:[HR][/HR]Oh well,the door handles aren't what gives 240 hp.[HR][/HR]​
Right on. http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
I'm still working on reducing my "shallowness" when it comes to cars, but it gets hard when I'm faced with provocations like the new 7.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,103 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (matt007)

The non-Spec V comes with grey seats. We have a blue one. Anywho, this car does have a B R O A D power band and you gotta keep your eyes on the speedo. I really want to put a regular sentra front fascia on it and debadge it. Too bad its not mine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,172 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (RJetta8V)

Why would I want to keep my eyes on the speedo?
I just let it wind around on its own
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,725 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (teutonicplague)

too bad the SE-R still looks like a sentra...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
665 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (Soul Man)

quote:[HR][/HR]No issues with torque steer? Because in every road test I could read there was complaints about torque steer with the V6. IMO the Altima is better balanced with the base engine. [HR][/HR]​
He drove the automatic. The torque steer to which you refer is inherent to the stick from what I've read.
 

·
Moderator
2011 BMW 328i xDrive Touring 6MT ZSP
Joined
·
48,648 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (bac)

quote:[HR][/HR]He drove the automatic. The torque steer to which you refer is inherent to the stick from what I've read.[HR][/HR]​
In Car and Driver's family sedan comparison, they complained about torque steer in their automatic 3.5 SE.
Lexi, a Jetta GLS VR6 starts at $27395. Load it up with leather, Monsoon, and the sport-luxury package and you are looking at $32k. Reasonable, but the Altima is a LOT bigger. The Jetta has a nicer interior though - even I will admit that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,103 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (BananaCo)

quote:[HR][/HR]too bad the SE-R still looks like a sentra...[HR][/HR]​
It's because it is a Sentra! Just like the SE-R's before it were Sentras.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,965 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (Lexi)

ohhhhhhhhhh
i test drove the sentra se-r Vspec
and i alomst bought it
172hp and a 6 speed tranny!!! for 20k
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,110 Posts
Guys,
After driving the regular SE-R and the Spec-V yesterday, I'm officially *off* the bandwagon. Reason: Tranny. As bad as the stock VW shifter in my Jetta is, the Spec-V shifter makes it looks almost honda-like. The throws are short, but all I can say is notchy, notchy, notchy! Shifting the darn thing was a constant wrestling match, and the grabby clutch didn't make matters much better.
For a lesson on what Nissan can do with a 6-speed, walk over in the same lot and drive the Maxima SE. Buttery smooth and light through the gears, with a sweet, progressive clutch.
Still, the SE-R's a performance bargain--hair over US$17K for the one I drove yesterday. Sure I'll be seeing many of 'em...just not in my driveway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,673 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (HarryC)

quote:[HR][/HR]Guys,
After driving the regular SE-R and the Spec-V yesterday, I'm officially *off* the bandwagon. Reason: Tranny. As bad as the stock VW shifter in my Jetta is, the Spec-V shifter makes it looks almost honda-like. The throws are short, but all I can say is notchy, notchy, notchy! Shifting the darn thing was a constant wrestling match, and the grabby clutch didn't make matters much better.
For a lesson on what Nissan can do with a 6-speed, walk over in the same lot and drive the Maxima SE. Buttery smooth and light through the gears, with a sweet, progressive clutch.
Still, the SE-R's a performance bargain--hair over US$17K for the one I drove yesterday. Sure I'll be seeing many of 'em...just not in my driveway.[HR][/HR]​
you test drove the regular SE-R? the SE-R has the previous SE-R's transmission behind the engine, and that is one slick shifting unit. the Maxima's shifter isnt even as good that that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,433 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (CanuckPal)

quote:[HR][/HR]He drove the automatic. The torque steer to which you refer is inherent to the stick from what I've read.
In Car and Driver's family sedan comparison, they complained about torque steer in their automatic 3.5 SE.
Lexi, a Jetta GLS VR6 starts at $27395. Load it up with leather, Monsoon, and the sport-luxury package and you are looking at $32k. Reasonable, but the Altima is a LOT bigger. The Jetta has a nicer interior though - even I will admit that.
[HR][/HR]​

I really didn't notice any torque steer myself. Tromped on it with trac control off and it the steering wheel was never fighting me.
As for a loaded Jetta, what's one cost with 17's on it ?
 

·
Registered
E82M Coupe, A177 A35 Hatch
Joined
·
5,040 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (maskedSONY)

quote:[HR][/HR]you test drove the regular SE-R? the SE-R has the previous SE-R's transmission behind the engine, and that is one slick shifting unit. the Maxima's shifter isnt even as good that that. [HR][/HR]​
I believe the new 6spd is a cable shifter, whereas the previous versions were all rod shifters.
The best shifting FWD I've still ever driven was the NX2000. Huge difference between that and the SpecV.
 

·
Moderator
2011 BMW 328i xDrive Touring 6MT ZSP
Joined
·
48,648 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (Lexi)

Saw two SE-Rs today: a red base model, and a silver Spec V. The Spec V's rear brakes looked absolutely tiny under those 17" wheels. The red interior is quite garish in person as well. Why couldn't they just have stuck with nice black sport seats covered in a grippy cloth?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,110 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (maskedSONY)

maskedSONY:
Yeah, test drove the regular SE-R 'bout a week ago, and had zero complaints on the 5-speed.
Seems to me the regular SE-R's the bargain between the two trim levels: Just like the original, it's not too flashy, but has a sweet tranny and hot motor to give you a really nice driving experience.
Random observation: Most of the regular SE-R's I've seen have been so tarted-up that they sticker for *more* than the Spec-V.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,673 Posts
Re: Test Driven : Altima vs Sentra SE-R vs Golf 1.8t (CanuckPal)

quote:[HR][/HR]Saw two SE-Rs today: a red base model, and a silver Spec V. The Spec V's rear brakes looked absolutely tiny under those 17" wheels. The red interior is quite garish in person as well. Why couldn't they just have stuck with nice black sport seats covered in a grippy cloth?[HR][/HR]​
thats what happens with Nissan Design in La Jolla, CA gets the call for duty rather than Nissan Design of Japan.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top