Since the birth of the sports sedan, none has entirely caught succeeded the Non like the Nissan Altima. The Altima is a compact sedan although some may say it is a small coupe. It Nissan Bluebird in 1992 and has since come in various iteration models, including a compact car (1992- 2001), a coupe (2007- 2013), and midsize car (2001 to the present).
Over the years, the Altima has been primarily known as the more extensive, more powerful luxurious trim of the Nissan Sentra, while other car enthusiasts refer to it as a younger sibling to the Nissan. Despite its rich history, the Nissan Altima did not make it to Australia until its fourth generation.
From its humble beginnings as a Bluebird trim, the Altima has come to stand out as a separate model with a loyal fan base.
First Generation U13 (1993 to 1997)
The Altima first came as a trim version of the Nissan Bluebird SSS. However, its design was influenced mainly by the sedan model of the Blue Studio made in 1989. Though the first Altima was named the Stanza, the name came to change with time.
The Altima ran on Nissan’s 2.4-litre inline-4 DOHC KA24DE petrol engine with either 5-speed manual gearbox or 4-speed automatic transmission. The four-door sedan could manage 112 kilowatts of power which was quite impressive at that time. It also featured newly developed stabilizer bars and struts installed in its front and rear suspensions.
The Altima first generation came in four trims, which were the XE, the GXE, the Sports SE, and the luxurious GLE trims.
Second Generation L30 (1998-2001)
The second generation came to life with the 1998 release, which came with a redesigned interior. This release saw the availability in four trims, which were the XE, the popular GXE, the sporty SE, and the luxury trim GLE version. The new generation featured standard leather seats and luxury-level features which trickled down to the base models (GXE and SE). Each trim got new variable intermittent wipers which were a groundbreaking design back in its day.
The Altima’s release in 2000 came with increased power and an improved version of the KA24DE engine, raising the power output to a whopping 119kW. It also got a performance boost with better acceleration and firmer handling.
Third Generation L31 (2002-2006)
The Altima third generation saw the light of day in 2002. Built under Nissan’s FF platform, it featured an increased cabin size compared to its previous generation. In 2005, the Altima got a facelift that included a redesigned front grille, new taillights, a restyled interior, and an enhanced performance (186kW of power and 338Nm of torque). This generation was well-received and loved among fans of the Altima due to its spaciousness.
Fourth Generation L32A (2008-2013)
The fourth-generation came out in 2006, featuring Nissan’s D platform. Though its interior remained unchanged, it came with new improvements in the front and rear suspension.
Nissan pushed out new engine upgrades for this generation with the inclusion of a 2.5-litre QR25DE inline-4 6-valve engine that produced 130 kW of power and the larger 3.5-litre VQ35DE V6 engine that gave a whopping 201kW of power. The trims were available in both 6-speed manual gearbox and continuously variable transmission. It also featured new-age technological improvements like SmartKey.
In 2010, the Nissan Altima got a facelift with a new front fascia design and an enhanced. A hybrid version also rolled out in 2007, but its production only lasted until 2011.
Fifth Generation L33 (2013-2018)
The Nissan Altima finally saw its launch in Australia in its fifth generation in 2013. It came with the most number of trim levels – seven in all. These were the 2.5 base trim, the 2.5 ST, the 2.5 ST-L, the 2.5 Ti, the 3.5 Ti-S, the 3.5 S, and the 3.5 SV. However, Nissan discontinued both the 3.5 S and the 3.5 SV in 2015. The Altima’s current Australian trims are:
- ST which is a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder QR25DE petrol engine coupled with CVT, producing 127kW of power and 230Nm of torque
- ST-L trim which features a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder QR25DE petrol engine with CVT, putting out 127kW of power and 230Nm of torque
- Ti that comes with a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder QR25DE petrol engine with CVT, generating 127kW and 230Nm of torque
- Ti-S that has 3.5-litre, 6-valve VQ35DE petrol engine with CVT, producing 183kW of power and 312Nm of torque
The new generation Altima featured a lighter and better-designed D platform that dropped its weight to 1.5 tons. All models came with continuous variable transmission since Nissan no longer offered its 6-speed manual gearbox option. Alongside its counterparts like the Ford Fusion and the Honda Accord, the Altima fared pretty well but fell short compared to the Volkswagen Passat in a comparison test done in 2012.
In 2016, the Altima got a new facelift with new front and rear bumpers, newly-designed taillights and Zero Gravity front seats. It also came fitted with a lux-feel steering wheel, central console, cabin-silencing materials, and sound-reducing windshields. The new-generation Altima had a new SR trim applied to previous levels with 2.5 SR and 3.5 SR models, with the latter discontinued in 2018.
The year 2018 also saw the inclusion of a 7-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with a newly-designed user interface. That was the only generation to figure in the Australian marketplace.
Sixth Generation L34 (2019)
This new generation rolled out of production gates in 2019. It featured a sporty facelifted Altima, powered by either a 2.5-litre PR25DD inline-4 or 2.0-litre KR200DDET turbocharged V6 engine coupled with a Jatco CVT8 XTRONIC continuous variable transmission.
It also comes with new-age Nissan Intelligent Mobility that features Pro-Pilot Assist, Nissan Intelligent Around-View Monitor, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection System, and Intelligent Lane Intervention.
While the Altima has evolved into the sixth generation, Australia is quite comfortable with the sporty utility provided by the fifth generation release that still proves to be useful. However, we hope that current and future new releases of the Altima will eventually make it to Australia.