2009 Nissan Maxima
[singlepic id=579 w=320 h=240 float=right]By Cor Steenstra, Photography Christopher Jones
I have to admit that this latest version of the Nissan Maxima had not made much of an impression on me when I saw its introduction. The previous 2 guises were very sporty and characteristic vehicles indeed, and the pictures of this latest version were not showing anything exciting, improving at all. The front end seemed uninspired, just using the obvious new themes but on a very average, rectangular underlying shape.
In real life my opinion on the Maxima has changed, but sadly not because of the exterior design. The front end is really as average as it seemed on the pictures, and the dynamic lines and sculpture of the previous generations has vanished. In return for this comes a rather non-descript body, thankfully not decorated with the random lines carved into Toyota’s of late, but just bland. If anything, I would associate it with the latest version of the Mitsubishi Galant, and that is certainly not something we expected Nissan to be striving for.
The positive impressions come purely from the interior design and from driving the car. The interior uses sophisticated color and trim, high-end fit and finish, all wrapped up in a well balanced, logical and well designed interior. Don’t get me wrong, it does not come close to the Hyundai Genesis, it is not in that same category anyway, but it does do its job.
Driving the car was also bringing across this level of quality, comfort, sportiness that sets it apart from its direct competitors. It was easy on the throttle, responsive, quick, yet all without being uncomfortable for passengers. Again, not close to the Hyundai Genesis, but very impressive never the less.
Remains to be seen how many people come to the showroom for a car that has a good interior and drives well, but boasts such a bland exterior. I am afraid that the first draw to a showroom is the exterior design, and if this Nissan has to depend on that, it won’t be a good experience.