Sun | Dec 11, 2016

Luxury at a great price

Published:Sunday | November 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Major Gregory Webster (left), general manager of Fidelity Motors Limited, and Councillor Pat Morgan unveil the 2015 Nissan Altima at Fidelity Motors Limited, Hanover Street, Kingston, last Tuesday. - Ian Allen/Photographer
A view from inside the 2015 Nissan Qashqai. - Ian Allen/Photographer
The inside of the 2015 Nissan Altima. - Ian Allen/Photographer
A front view of the 2015 Nissan Altima. - Ian Allen/Photographer
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Three things should be made clear at the outset of this review.

The first (and probably least important) is that it is somewhat redundant because the Nissan Altima's praises have seen sung long, loud, and wide long before Fidelity Motors decided to bring it in officially so Automotives could get behind the steering wheel. There are no superlatives that can be added to the luxury sedan, and, quite frankly, at this stage of the strong US seller's long run would really be nitpicking.

Second (and a bit more important) is that I am not a sedan kind of guy. I am into hatchbacks for their sportiness and station wagons for their roominess - including being used for speaker boxes and food stuff to pop the back lid, sit with feet swinging or firmly planted, and have a small party. The Altima is a sedan, so automatically, I should be unimpressed.

Note the 'should'.

Finally, and most important, I believe firmly that as depreciating assets that are darned expensive to operate and maintain, motor cars should be bought as cheaply as possible without compromising safety and reliability. At within shouting distance of a $5 million price tag, though not over it, the Altima is not a cheapskate's dream ride.

So put this all together, and where does this leave me during and after about a half-hour drive along the Palisadoes Road, up a hill heading out to the St Thomas side, in the new model available at Fidelity, parking at Hanover Street, and handing the key fob back to the affable and informed David Crawford with a big grin (despite a slight attempt to conceal it) and that "damn, that was great!" feeling that comes after a great meal and whatever else comes to your mind?

Not only does the Altima live up to its hype, but compared to other new sedans in its class, it is rather inexpensive. Let those who are intent on making a purchase in the market segment do the head-to-head comparisons and count the dollars - and there is a hell of a gap between the Altima and its brand new competitors.

Let the financiers beware!

The machine looks good inside and out (although the exterior design is not the flashiest, the double tailpipes giving it a nice rear end look) and, more important, it drives well. After Automotives took over the wheel from Crawford, the passenger-seat sensation of gliding along got even better. A couple pumps get the leather seat to required height (I like to go high), and a flick of a lever selects one of many a back rest position electronically.

And off you go into bliss.

Colour coordination with the silver trimmings inside; bluetooth connectivity included in the steering wheel control set; a sport mode that has the engine responding with decidedly more pep when the right foot is depressed; hill assist that allows stopping time on an incline without slipping to get going again; decent stock sound system; and air-conditioning designed for literally chilling are among the many attributes that make the Altima an excellent car.

The smoothness of the ride deserves second, third, and fourth mention. On the way back from Harbour View Roundabout, I stopped with the left-side tyres on the loose material at the side of the road and the driver's side tyres on the tarmac then moved off again with the same vehicle distribution. I did not feel the rough in the ride and Mr Crawford did not seem unduly disturbed.

Oh. The parking sensors on the Altima, which sound the alert when the driver is too close for comfort when attempting to give the ride a rest, work. I tried them on a wall up that hill. No bumps and scrapes there.

Automotives was shown another decent attribute back at Fidelity, the folding-down back seats to create loads more room. It is not a station wagon, but I am a tad mollified.

The Nissan Altima from Fidelity is a superb well-appointed sedan at a very good price. The only question I keep asking is why did they take so long to bring the cost-effective gem (for that category) in?