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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not sure where Nissan is going with this one? If it's a less expensive alternative to G35 or competition for Mazda 6 it may end up cannibalizing sales from the Maxima?

On the other hand, this may finally be the "kick in the ass" Honda needs to bring out a Type-R Accord or higher performance TSX?

Nissan Adds SE-R to Altima

The SE-R nameplate no longer is solely for Nissan's compact Sentra. At the New York auto show, Nissan will display an Altima SE-R with a high-output version of the 3.5-liter V-6. Nissan promises only that the engine will have more than 250 hp when teamed either to a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Distinguishing features of the new Altima SE-R will include 18-inch wheels, sport-tuned shocks, a deep front fascia and rear spoiler, black leather seats, and a three-gauge instrument panel like the one found in the 350Z sports car. A Bose eight-speaker audio system is standard on the SE-R as well. Nissan says the hotted-up Altima goes on sale in mid-September for less than $30,000.


http://www.thecarconnection.com/index.asp?n=156,173&sid=173&article=6995
 

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Yeah, there's not much reason for the Max to exist if this thing has ~260hp. Not that I would miss the horrid styling with the piggybank-slot sunroof. I'd better be well under $30k, or it would start to get into G35 (pricing) territory.

I don't get it with Honda marketing sometimes. Type-R is easily their strongest brand image anywhere in the world, and they currently have zero NA models with a Type-R variant. Half of all UK Civic sales are now the CTR.
 

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They gave us the Si/SiR, but those have been sales disasters. Honda should have just gave us the Civic Type R. I would like to see another Accord Type R though.
 

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Orangeblood
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and a three-gauge instrument panel like the one found in the 350Z sports car
As noted elsewhere, with that dash (asdfg ) Nissan will have lost most if not all TSX buyers.

This TSX buyer loves the understated, non-spaceship dash and interior.
 

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Just a little nutty
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I agree. Definitely sounds like Nissan is going all out to have the Altima compete against the TSX. After the great month (of sales) they've recently had, I guess Nissan could afford to be more aggressive and go right after Honda/Acura. I'm not sure if a lot of people can swallow the fact that they're paying close to $30K for a Nissan (as opposed to an Infinity) but otherwise, the Altima SE-Rs got the right ingredients to attract power hungry, middle-aged, spirited drivers.

Even without the Altima SE-R, the sale of Maxima was getting cannibalized by the regular Altima. At this rate, it may be the beginning of the end for the Maxima. It's priced too close to the Infinity G35 and doesn't have enough to distinguish it from the Altima.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After giving this some more thought, here is what I've concluded:

They are trying to compete against the Accord and not the TSX. They moved the G20 up market to become the G35 and let it compete against the TL. That left a void in the entry level spot. For whatever reason they either will not refill that spot or may at some future time due to the TSX success.

In the interim, to save cash, they are marketing the Maxima as sort of cross over vehicle, kind of a high end Nissan or low end Infiinity? Bottom line, they really don't have a direct competitor in North America to compete with the TSX. I suppose you could say the Altima is indirectly competition but not by design.

They are pushing the envelope in a specific segment. When the Altima was reintroduced in its current form, they also boosted the horsepower and syling. This was to help market the Altima as a significant alternative to the Accord and Camry. Unfortunately for Nissan, they ran out of cash when it came to material selection. That's why they received so much negative press (justifiably) for poor (Interior) material quality.

Now that the Altima is (halfway or more) through its life cycle, they need to freshen it to keep it sales up. If you've noticed, in addition to this new model, they've also redesigned their IP.

Honda does (did) do similar with the Accord when they brought out their SE model. In the past it was a high end luxury version that only appeared during the last model year of a specific generation. Sadly, now it is only filler model slotted between the LX and EX and sold everyday.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Nissan bring out a new entry level model, smaller than the G35 and slightly less expensive. When they do, that will be targeting the TSX (IMO).
 

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Guitar and Amp Junkie
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I don't see the Maxima going away any time soon. There's way too much brand image there, and most Maxima owners are extremely loyal to the brand.

This new Altima is going to be a somewhat limited production kind of car, and won't take many sales from the Maxima. Just like the TSX willl not put the TL out of business whenever Acura gets off their butts to put out a Type-R or A-Spec or whatever it is they call it.

Also, this Altima and the Maxima may be close in terms of power, but they are quite different in terms of ride. The Maxima feels a good bit heavier, and more like a luxury sedan; the Altima feels like a lighter, sportier car. The Maxima is also significantly bigger. This new Altima will appeal to someone who wants the power of the Max, the handling of the Altima, and wants to stay south of 30 grand -- a loaded Max stickers around $34 or $35 grand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ferg said:
I don't see the Maxima going away any time soon. There's way too much brand image there, and most Maxima owners are extremely loyal to the brand.

I didn't mean to infer that Nissan will dump the Maxima, just the opposite as you say it has way too much brand loyalty and is too popular a model.

What I meant was that intentional or not, Nissan is marketing the Maxima (on the low end) against cars like the TSX for which it has no direct competition from Nissan.

I see the Altima as comparable to the Accord and the Maxima (to a varying degree) comparable to the TSX/TL.

The only reason the Maxima could be considered competitive with the TSX/TL is for the same reason as they market it against the Accord (sometimes), because it's FWD.

It really blurs the lines as the level of refinement is more fitting to the TL but it comes from Nissan and not Infinity. When you compare the G35 against the TL, they are more equal in that they both come from their respect manufacturer's premier lines. But then you find one is RWD and the other FWD which makes direct comparison difficult.

Maybe now that Infinity has intro'd an AWD version of the G35, Honda will do the same for the TL and level the playing field?
 

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hip said:
After giving this some more thought, here is what I've concluded:

They are trying to compete against the Accord and not the TSX. They moved the G20 up market to become the G35 and let it compete against the TL. That left a void in the entry level spot. For whatever reason they either will not refill that spot or may at some future time due to the TSX success.

In the interim, to save cash, they are marketing the Maxima as sort of cross over vehicle, kind of a high end Nissan or low end Infiinity?.....
Ferg said:
.....this Altima and the Maxima may be close in terms of power, but they are quite different in terms of ride. The Maxima feels a good bit heavier, and more like a luxury sedan; the Altima feels like a lighter, sportier car. The Maxima is also significantly bigger.....
I think hip basically nailed it. Ferg is right too, but I don't think Nissan has been able to get across the distinctions to the public, and they're going to have their work cut out for them going forward too. First of all, the size difference isn't great, except the weight, which most people aren't going to grasp. And it's tough to give the Altima an image of being "sportier" when its power has been less -- and historically it has been considerably less.

I've thought that Nissan basically blew it with the new Altima and Maxima that came out in the last couple of years, because of how blurred they were, and I think it'll be tough to undo that, but I don't blame them for trying.

The "old" Altima was almost exactly the size of the TSX, and I think they made a big mistake by abandoning that size category. If they remade the Altima as the old size, I think they'd have a better chance to really do something with the car.
 

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larchmont said:
I've thought that Nissan basically blew it with the new Altima and Maxima that came out in the last couple of years, because of how blurred they were, and I think it'll be tough to undo that, but I don't blame them for trying.

The "old" Altima was almost exactly the size of the TSX, and I think they made a big mistake by abandoning that size category. If they remade the Altima as the old size, I think they'd have a better chance to really do something with the car.
I respectfully disagree, at least about the Altima. The Altima became a much improved car for the US market when it was 'upsized' and aimed at the Accord/Camry genre. Unfortunately, they did little to separate the Maxima from it (even use the same platform) and now they're canabalizing Maxima sales. Even so, I'll bet they're selling more Altimas/Maximas combined than they were before the redesigns (going out on a limb here).

IMO the Maxima is a terrible redesign... yet I seem to see a lot of them on the roads :confused:
 

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Guitar and Amp Junkie
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The size difference is actually pretty noticeable. The numbers may not show it (or they may -- I haven't looked) but I've been inside both cars and the Maxima is noticeably bigger.

I agree that Nissan hasn't tried to differentiate the two cars in terms of sport/luxury, but then again I don't think they ever intended to. I believe they want to be known as "sporty" all around, and not just have one or two cars that are perceived as sport versions of normal Nissans. This "sporty" feel is all over their marketing. They even try to pass off a bottom-line Sentra as being the sportiest of all econo-boxes.

Plus, they're selling like hotcakes, so whatever they're doing seems to be working. I don't think they necessarily blew anything at all. I'm personally not a fan of the styling of either car, but there are plenty of people who seem to "get it" in regards to both models, so I guess it's my loss.

Nissan's strength is the engineering in their VQ series 6-cylinder. It's a truly fantastic power plant. If they were to get a little less dramatic with their styling, and get the interiors up to the level of Honda, they would be even more of a force to reckon with.

As for the old Altima, well, it had to go. It was too small and underpowered to compete with the Camry/Accord segment, too large and expensive to compete with Corollas and Civics. In that light, I totally understand why they abandoned the size bracket -- they had an increasing share of a diminishing market, and that's never a good thing in business.

Also, they had some management changes in the late 90's and early 2000's that impacted the redesigns of the Altima and Maxima. The management team that redesigned the Maxima in 2000 (complete with the bubble-butt look) was replaced with a new team that decided to ditch the old second generation Altima, and redesign it from the ground up to compete with the Camry and Accord. Then, they went back and redid the Maxima to the version we have now.

If you talk to a Nissan saleman, and I know a few, they'll tell you straight up that the cars that are shopped against the Maxima most often are the VW Passat, Acura TL, Volvo S60, Accord EX-V6, and to a certain extent the Avalon (since it's perceived as another "premium" sedan from a traditionally non-premium brand).

>> Posted by larchmont: "If they remade the Altima as the old size, I think they'd have a better chance to really do something with the car."

They are doing something with the car; they're competing well in a very difficult market segment -- the mid-size family sedan. And that's where the big companies' bread and butter sales are.


Ferg
 

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Well, my bad I guess. I gotta believe that JCG and Ferg are right.

What I was going on was three things:

(1) This one being the main thing, which isn't necessarily relevant but we usually do begin with our own feeling, right?
-- The re-done cars are of absolutely no interest to me, whereas the prior ones came close.

(2) The revising of the Altima did indeed make it much more similar to its big brother, which I figured couldn't be a good thing.

(3) Nobody I know talks about those cars any more or is interested in getting either one, so I know it's more than just me. But I guess we're not a representative crowd.
 

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Ferg said:
Nissan's strength is the engineering in their VQ series 6-cylinder. It's a truly fantastic power plant.
Bingo. And it pretty much starts and ends there for John Q. Public in NA. Every hot car they sell has this engine. Without a smaller engine of similar quality, they need to skimp on other features (like interior) to compete in the lower priced segments.

The G35 competes well with the TL and 330. Nissan needs a smaller displacement V6 or I4 to go directly against TSX, 325, 9-3, A4, etc.
 

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Good point.

I don't think Nissan's 4 is all that bad. I'd certainly take it over GM's Ecotec, or Chrysler's 4-cyl. It's not nearly as smooth as Honda's or Toyota's, but neither is it terrible. Puts out decent horsepower (I'm talking about the 4 that goes in the Altima S models, and the Sentra Spec-V's). Their smaller four is definitely nothing to write home about.

Funny -- you'd think they would want to focus even more on the interior since their little 4's aren't up to the level of Honda/Toyota. They're coming around here and there as far as interiors go -- some time ago I posted some pix about the redesigned Altima interior for this model year.

It's also strange that they took such a step backwards in this area. My wife had a 1997 Altima (first generation) and I had a 1998 Maxima, and the interiors on both of those were handsome if not particularly original or wonderful.

Ferg
 
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