When the previous generation Maxima, the seventh overall, was unveiled back in 2008, it blew everyone away with its style, performance, luxury and sheer presence. The Gulf hadn’t seen a new Maxima in around a decade, as the sixth generation Maxima was simply an Altima rebadged as a Maxima for the US markets.
The seventh gen Maxima was such a leap forward for the brand’s flagship sedan that it was going to take some beating. However, for the 2016, eighth generation Maxima, Nissan have pulled out all the stops and come up with the goods. Externally, the design of the Maxima has undergone a significant overhaul, making it look more futuristic and bold than its predecessor.
However, the biggest change has come from within. The model we drove was the Maxima SR, one step below the top end Platinum spec, and yet still absolutely packed with options. For example, you have keyless entry and start, heated AND air-conditioned seats, a big touchscreen that can be controlled either by touch or by the rotating dial on the centre console, adaptive cruise control, advance collision warning, flappy paddle gear shifters, to name but a few. Little touches, like the seats moving back when you turn the car off to make getting out easier, are what make the Maxima punch above its weight in the segment.
It’s the design, though, that really stands out with the interior. It’s stylish and modern, with a distinctly premium feel to everything thanks to lots of padded black leather surfaces with white stitching, and white leather seats with quilted stitching on the seat backs really adding a classy touch. The centre console, which is angled slightly towards the driver for that nice cockpit feel, is well laid out and looks great. The interface on the touchscreen, while not the most eye catching we’ve seen, is intuitive and easy to use. The highly competent adaptive cruise control works extremely well, with smooth braking when approaching a car ahead, and it’s much less ham fisted with the braking as versions of the technology we’ve seen in other brands.
Nissan’s tried and tested power train the muscular 3.5l V6 with CVT, returns in the 2016 model, only this time it has been beefed up to produce 300hp and 354Nm of torque. We love the fact that, while everyone else seems to be switching to smaller, turbo-charged four-pot engines, Nissan is sticking to its guns with its beefy V6. The CVT transmission is excellent too, with smooth and rapid shifts, and a constant and impressive power delivery right the way through the ratios. It avoids that awful drone that other CVTs can be prone to, as the acceleration struggles to keep up with the engine speed.
In addition, the chassis is almost 40kg lighter, and 25% stiffer, thanks to tougher lightweight materials. All of this amounts to a car that is fast, agile and engaging to drive. Following on from the previous generation, there were big expectations with the new 2016 Maxima, but Nissan have not disappointed. It’s a superb flagship for the brand.