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Redesigning Luxury and Sport

Published: Sunday, November 01, 2015    

After a year off, the nissan Maxima returns in 2016, completely redesigned and poised to exhilarate once again. Irwin B Fletcher takes the slimmed-down, beefed-up Maxima SR to the streets and discovers that, at the touch of a button, driving takes on a new level of excitement.

The exhilaration begins on the show room floor. The Maxima has always been Nissan’s top-level luxury sedan but with a bad-boy sport feel, and the completely redesigned 2016 version certainly does not waiver from that idea. The 2016 version comes in five, very striking models; S, SV, SL, a sporty SR, and the top-shelf Platinum version.

We took to the streets in the sporty SR. The dramatic, aerodynamically sleek look, immediately catches your eye. It is slightly longer with an additional 5.8 centimetres and slightly lower by 3.3 centimetres than its predecessor. Complemented by 19 inch (48.26 cm) alloy wheels, it certainly quickens the pulse before you ever get behind the wheel.

But the changes do not stop at the surface. Nissan has lightened the load slightly, while increasing the rigidity of the internal structures. These are two factors that are said to make

the 2016 model more fuel-efficient and give it improved handling.

The extensively refined and optimised VQ V6 engine takes on some of the same features in technology that can be found in the GT-R supercar, making the muscle under the hood one of the reasons that ‘driving’ becomes an enjoyment again.

The increase of 10 horse power from the old version, puts 300 ponies under the hood, allowing it to accelerate from 0-100 kilometres per hour in just under six seconds. Not bad for your reliable family sedan!

Furthermore, if you opt for the SPORT mode from the Drive Mode Selector, the throttle will sharpen, the steering will tighten, the suspension will stiffen and the transmission hones-in for an extra shot of adrenaline when you put your foot to the floor – and all the while, you’re smiling from ear to ear with the wail of the exhaust as it pulls to its 6,400rpm redline.

Inside, the sleek leather wrapped console and surrounds, nestle the driver into a very snug, yet roomy cockpit. The diamond quilted leather seats are vented for both hot and cool ventilation

depending on the season, and here in the desert, who wouldn’t want air-conditioned seats?

The centre console also boasts a very large and easily navigated 20.32 centimetres touch screen that has been angled seven degrees - inspired again by the GT-R - toward the driver, for easier navigation and more intuitive control of the car’s systems.

Combine this with the 17.78 centimetre Advanced Drive-Assist Display between the speedometer and tachometer and the road never truly leaves the driver’s sight for very long, helping keep everybody a little safer.

But all of this makes for enjoyment only if you get on the open road. And only on the open road can you truly experience some of the more noticeable and impressive systems and features that the Maxima offers.

The first feature that really grabbed my attention showed itself as I navigated my first roundabout after leaving the dealership. For the new 2016 version, it incorporates an Active Trace Control system to every corner, which I thought was brilliant with the more curves I went into and the faster I took them.

How it works is this: as the car feels you enter a curve, it takes into account your speed and selectively applies the inner or outer brakes, helping to guide you through by optimising your line of attack.

An added bonus that I noticed was the shoulder belt instantly removed the slack to hold me firmly in place as the G-forces increased around the corner. The result is a tighter turn with more control, thus keeping you in your lane and not the one opposite.

The second feature that undoubtedly caught my attention was the Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC). Ever since I was 16 years old and learning how to drive, cruise control has meant maintaining a constant speed while on the highway - that was its only job... I say, was!

Now, ICC helps you maintain a constant speed while keeping you safe as well. The front mounted radar has three levels of sensitivity for sensing the car directly in front.

As you approach a slower moving vehicle, the ICC senses this road-clogging nightmare and will automatically slow the car to keep a safe distance, no matter how slow the first vehicle is travelling.

When it was safe to go around, I signalled and changed lanes, the ICC, not sensing the vehicle ahead of me any longer, slowly regained speed until we were cruising yet again at the set velocity. Truly dynamic and quick to respond, it is an absolute life-saver when somebody abruptly pulls in front of you from a parallel lane.

The third feature that I found exceptional was the 360°, bird’s-eye view each time I entered or left a parking location. Most cars these days have a rear-view camera, which is great when you’re

backing up, but how does this help when you’re moving forward to park?

The Maxima’s class- exclusive Around View Monitor utilises four different cameras to give you views on all sides. The first camera, located right on the nose, gives a front and overhead view when the car is in Drive. You can now gauge just how close you are to the curb when pulling-in to any parking spot.

A second camera located under the passenger side mirror can be accessed in Drive or Reverse for a side view, allowing you to see just how close you are to the curb during parallel parking.

Camera number three is the background- savvy rear camera. When the car is in Reverse, the display on the dash helps you see what is directly behind. But the overhead view assists you in seeing shorter objects that might be out    i of sight through the back window.

And finally, to round out the 360°, the camera located under the driver’s side mirror, helps you to see exactly what is outside the car, whether it be checking to see if you’re within the lines or the distance from another car.

I was unsure about it when the salesman at Al Masaood Automobiles told me: “If you want parking any easier, you’ll have to valet-park.” But he was right.

With all of these features, and so many more that were working without me even noticing them, you’re probably asking ‘But what about the ride? How was the overall drive of the car?’

Although not a full-fledged sports car, it is certainly sporty enough to make driving fun while maintaining some of the cushy luxury that you find in some of the higher end models

n the Nissan family. This all makes it a good combination of both worlds that won’t break the bank and will keep the whole family happy.

The acceleration is excellent and won’t leave you stranded when you need it to be there. A spacious cabin makes trips across town or across country comfortable, although the car is constantly monitoring driver fatigue and will notify you if you need to take a break. Road noise is extremely low, even when the dual panel sunroof is open to allow some natural light to filter in.

All in all, it was a lot of car for the price point. Starting at Dh114,000 our fully-loaded SR topped out at Dh150,000.This means that you will get an adrenaline rush without the price-tag shock but still feel secure and comfy wherever you go.

My advice is give it six seconds. After that, you’ll never look at a four-door ‘sedan’ the same way again.
 
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