2016 Nissan Maxima video review

The future and the past converge in what is quite simple the best Nissan saloon we’ve had for a while!

By Shahzad Sheikh

2016 Nissan Maxima video review

If you can recall living in the GCC as far back as the mid-1980s, then you’ll remember the Nissan Laurel – particularly in two-tone ‘Hard Top’ guise with the frameless door windows and the raucous 2.4-litre straight-six. Despite only having about 130bhp it was an attack drone of a thing, doubling up as a cruise-mobile to take your mates out in. Performance, space, comfort, coolness – it was a legend. Meet its modern-day reincarnation – the all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima.

Click below to watch a video review of the 2016 Nissan Maxima.

This new saloon from Nissan is something of a paradox, it’s the most futuristic thing bearing a Nissan badge currently on sale here. And it’s a striking thing: sharp edges, steep angles and muscular curves all working together remarkably to create a car with eye-catching presence and a definite masculinity about it.

And yet to drive it feels like the hard-charging thunder-saloon of Nissan’s yesteryears. Now boasting 300bhp it’s very fast in a straight line and yet extremely spacious and comfortable, packed with kit and reasonably affordable. I couldn’t help but reminisce about the Laurel when I drove this car, although technically the Maxima’s lineage derives from the Bluebird.

2016 Nissan Maxima video review

So what we have here is a four-door sports car – it even says that in the headlights should there be any dispute (and in fact I AM going to dispute that in a bit). At the front there is the new family ‘V-motion’ grill design language with funky boomerang DRLs in the headlights, flowing back to flared wheelarches and a kick-up at the rear leading into a black crease that helps to present that ‘floating roof’ impression.

There’s chrome-tipped dual exhausts and large diameter diamond-cut alloys (here 19s) finishing off a sleek and swoopy styling theme that is certainly more four-door coupe than stodgy saloon. I really like the look of this thing – now if only it had frameless doors!

2016 Nissan Maxima video review

You also get a decent boot and good rear cabin space, despite the raked rear roof, and up front it’s claimed that the inspiration for the cockpit came from the Blue Angels Naval Air pilots in the US. Well I’m not quite sure about that, but it is a very nice place to be, with good ergonomics.

There’s a clear and configurable instrument panel, and a large centre display monitor which can be controlled by a knob like the BMW iDrive, or by touch, or even touch-gesture like a tablet. I’m surprised this doesn’t have things like Apple Car play, because it has the screen for it, but that’s probably on the way.

2016 Nissan Maxima video review

You also get a quality fit and finish with double stitching, ambient lighting, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, noise cancellation and ‘zero-gravity’ seats – which just means they’ll hold their shape a lot longer.

As mentioned, under the bonnet you get a 300bhp 3.5-litre V6 which is good for a 0-100kph run of 5.8 seconds (back in the days of the Laurel, you’d need a German super-sportscar to get that kind of acceleration) powering the front wheels on this eight-gen Maxima through a CVT transmission.

2016 Nissan Maxima video review

Remember when I said I was going to take issue with its ‘sports saloon’ title – well I think it’s actually got something of a split personality taking on the characteristics of two other genres of cars. One of them is very like that old Laurel – that of a fast GT saloon and as such this is a great long-legged tourer for devouring distances with speed and comfort.

The second car that emerges is a torque-steery crazed cat that attacks corners like a scampering feline on wet tiles. In other words, start chucking it about, and it feels more like an enlarged hot hatch on steroids.

2016 Nissan Maxima video review

What detracts from it being an actual ‘sports saloon’ is the steering which offers little feel and also less than linear input with some stickiness when powering out of a bend; and that CVT, which admittedly is the best of the breed so far from Nissan thanks to distinct step changes, but which remains unevocative when you’re caning it. Nonetheless it does a far better job of making the most of the torque on hand and letting the engine get on with it.

Having said that, these is no doubt that this is indeed a fun fast saloon, and thoroughly enjoyable to drive and ride in, with good grip, decent poise and excellent performance.

2016 Nissan Maxima video review

Verdict

The only downside that the new Maxima presents for Nissan is that it means that the manufacturer has to get around to updating the rest of its range quickly, because this new offering is way ahead of its siblings.

Like the Laurel I remember, this is a desirable machine that caters equally both to practicality and performance. And it looks so good and offers such an inviting cabin that I’d overlook the lifeless steering and humourless CVT, because this Nissan counters any flaws with immense overall likeability.

In style and substance, this is the spiritual successor to the 1980’s Nissan Laurel and it’s great to have it back!

2016 Nissan Maxima video review

2016 Nissan Maxima – The Specs

Price:
S: AED112,000 ($31k)
SV: AED126,000 ($34k)
SR: AED151,000 ($41k)
Engine: 3.5, V6, 300bhp @ 6400, 261lb ft @ 4400
Performance: 0-100kph 5.8seconds, 217kph, 9.4L/100km
Transmission: CVT auto, front-wheel drive
Weight: 1617kg

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