By on May 6, 2014

This is a clever video. To save you the trouble of watching it, the story works like so:

Nissan took a bunch of people whom the average TTACer would probably not characterize as “automotive enthusiasts” for passenger rides in “the new Altima race car”. At the end of a day filled with some faux-racing action, the assembled passengers are treated to a tear-down of one of the Altima racers. It turns out that all the “race stuff” — the aluminum interior, the spoilers, the graphics — is removable and that underneath is an Altima 3.5 SL.

You can look at this one of two ways:

0. The Nissan Altima is indistinguishable from a race car. That’s what the video is meant to convey. That’s obviously not true, as long as the person doing the distinguishing has actual experience with race cars. There’s no rollcage in the thing, it rides and steers softly, and it has real glass all the way around.

1. Most people have no idea of the actual handling limits of the modern automobile, and therefore they interpret a car being driven at the actual limits of the modern automobile as a race car. I’d say that’s a solid BINGO. When I took a Camry to Summit Point last year, my passengers were frankly amazed by what it could do — and some of them had plenty of track time under their belts already. My Accord can break 120mph on the front straight at Putnam. A few years ago, you needed a Corvette to put up that number. Not any more.

So what’s the moral of the story? It’s simple: whatever car you’re driving, as long as it’s a car and not a CUV or SUV, is probably faster and more dynamic than you think it is. It wouldn’t be a waste of your time to try a HPDE or two to find out for yourself. Why not do it this year?

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58 Comments on “Nissan’s Fake Altima Racer Stunt...”


  • avatar

    It’s too bad the Altima can’t be tuned into a straightline racer like the JUKE. A Nissan Altima GT-R would be awesome.

    …at least the accidents would be spectacular anyway!

  • avatar

    I have to agree on the limits thing. And it’s not new I would say cars from the early 90’s on up seem to be much more competent then the average driver would ever need. Even some trucks and Suvs can surprise you if you ever bother to push them. 1st and 2nd gen dodge dakotas for example handle surprisingly well. My guess one of the reasons enthusiasts like sport sedans etc is the way it feels when you push it rather than what happens when you push it.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Everyone raise your hand who thinks this is still less lame than the Camry “grounded to the ground” or “Camry on a hot wheels track.”

    (raises hand)

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      I’ll just leave this here:

      http://cindyscott.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Raised-hands.jpg

      It’s actually a clever (if not obvious) advertisement.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Both commercials are insulting and make their customers look stupid, but the “grounded to the ground” is still the lamest and the Cadillac ELR commercial is the douchiest

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        Making Their Customers Look Stupid…

        I think they’ve nailed the average consumer in today’s market pretty well!

        I couldn’t resist. You left me a large opening.

      • 0 avatar
        philadlj

        The ELR commercial was douchey, to be sure, but when I finally saw it after hearing so much about it, it seemed to me Cadillac wasn’t trying to be serious. There’s a definite tongue-in-cheek quality to it, like the Hotels.com’s “Captain Obvious”, or going back a ways, DIRECTV’s Russian Oligarch with the teacup giraffe.

  • avatar
    jmo

    It also feels faster when you’re not the one driving.

    I’ll also throw this out there – am I the only one who thinks automatics feel “faster” than manuals?

    I think it’s for the same reason being the passenger feels faster. If you’re the driver, you know what’s about to happen. So, you can brace yourself and as a result the transitions are less dramatic. With a manual, you know exactly how the power is going to come on. With an automatic it’s not something you know with the same precision. As a result, the transitions seem more dramatic and intense and therefor seem “faster.”

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Depends on the auto. Modern 7-9 speed autos have so many more gears than your typical manual that the sensation of climbing up the powerband is largely absent.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    http://www.caradvice.com.au/199108/nissan-altima-v8-supercar-shakedown-video/photos/

    http://www.v8xmagazine.com.au/index.php/news-rss-feed/518-nissan-unveils-vk56de-v8-supercar-engine

    What can I say.

    We have Altima V8s racing cars.

    One thing at least we don’t have fake racing V8 Altima’s.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Watch the video’s if they work of the Altima V8.

    Only in Australia!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A_Bll5AKl0

    http://www.autoblog.com/2014/03/14/gt-r-takes-on-altima-v8-supercar-and-leaf-nismo-in-nissan-time-a/

  • avatar
    jmo

    Also to note.

    In 1955 the fastest car in the world was the Mercedes 300SL with a 0-60 time of 7.4 seconds.

    In 1966 the fastest car in the world was the Lamborghini Miura with a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds,

    A 2014 v-6 Accord does it in 5.8!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Looking at the numbers the first production car that could beat a V-6 Accord/Altima/Camry was the 1968 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.

      To compare a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 0-60? 7.1.

      If you had managed to get one of the 284 71 Hemi ‘Cudas that came with all the performance options and the 4-speed manual you might, just might, have been able to keep up with the ’14 Accord…until you came to the first corner…

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        To be fair, how much quicker would some of those classics be on a modern set of tires, actually converting some of the overstated horsepower to forward motion instead of smoke and noise?

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “To be fair, how much quicker would some of those classics be on a modern set of tire”

          They would be much faster.

          I’m just surprised that the super cars of yesterday offer the same performance of the bland midsize sedans of today. It’s amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      And, since I can seem to edit – the Miura was 6.1 not 6.8.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        Which is quicker than the 2014 Accord V6, barely.
        The 5.8 claim is nice, but it’s not realistic. Actual testing (professionals who are willing to beat the tar out of the car), gives you low 6’s. That’s still very quick!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Those cars might have had the highest top speed in the world for a production car, but I doubt very much they were the fastest accelerating.

      The problem with modern cars is that most are so quiet and refined they just don’t feel fast, even if they are fast. My 1.3L Triumph Spitfire MIGHT break 15 seconds to 60 on a really good day, but it feels like you are strapped onto a missile. Similarly, my Abarth feels MUCH faster than my BMW, even though the BMW will run away and hide from it. A slower car with some drama is way more fun.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “but I doubt very much they were the fastest accelerating”

        What was faster accelerating 0-60 in 1955, 65, 75? It looks like an 1954 XJ120 was 9.8. A 1964 E-type 3.8 was 6.6. I’ve already included the numbers for the 70’s muscle cars in their pre oil crisis pre emissions heyday.

        Keeping in mind many of these cars were dealing with the inherent limitations of tiny bias ply tires.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Shelby Cobra?

          I think a Super Duty 421 Catalina/2+2 might be quicker too, but Pontiac loved to cheat on road tests in the 60s so who knows.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I’m sure an old 427 Cobra with a good set of tires could post a mean 0-60.

            Bias plies sucked.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            “Super Duty 421 Catalina/2+2 ”

            I do have to concede that does look to be 0.4 seconds faster to 60 that a v-6 automatic Accord.

            As for bias ply tires – I hear they make things feel a lot faster,

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            “I’m sure an old 427 Cobra with a good set of tires could post a mean 0-60.”

            Yes but please don’t try to turn a corner with that big block weight all on the front end. Give me a 289 Cobra for road racing.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I don’t think Shelby made 427 ACs as track cars, but I could be wrong.

            Pretty sure they did make some 427 Daytona Coupes though, unless all of those were 289s.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            As for the Cobras, I’m seeing times in the mid 4 second range but I can’t tell if they are using the original factory tires.

            So, you may be right about them as well.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Nothing against you, NoYoGo, I simply think the obsession with BIG BLOCKS in 60s/70s cars is ridiculous. (But that comment is aimed at the car culture in general.)

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Nowadays there’s no need for a big block. A 347 Ford stroker will easily out-do a 390, a Chevy 383 can match a 454 with enough work, modern Mopar 360 crate motors will crush the 383 and 440…

            But back then, when Detroit’s approach to engines was more primitive, the only way to more power after jacking up compression and adding a bigger carb/more carbs was a bigger engine.

            Me, I think I could have plenty of fun with a 347-powered Superperformance Cobra replica.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            The Goodyear Blue Streaks were and still are a pretty grippy tire.

            Dan, the coil spring suspension on the 427 compared to the transverse leaf on the 289 more than makes up for the little extra weight behind the front axle.

            JMO, I think you are confusing fastest and quickest.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “Yes but please don’t try to turn a corner with that big block weight all on the front end. Give me a 289 Cobra for road racing.”

            Like the Viper, the 427 Cobra is actually a bit rear-biased; about 48/52. The front of the engine is well behind the front axle.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        @krhodes1

        There is definitely something to the quietness.

        The Verano T is touted as a very quiet car, and quite frequently I find myself thinking “this isnt that fast a car” until I look at the speedo and see what the product of a bootfull of throttle actually produces. Such a huge disconnect of sensation and logic.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      In defense of the cars of 1955, they hold up pretty good when compared to the cars of 1896.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        +1. Technology advances. Windows 95 was a great deal at the time. XP smokes it, and Windows 7 smokes XP in capabilities. But, in 1996 for me, Windows 95 was the cat’s meow!

        I have more fun in the older cars. Sure, my Audi A6 can go way faster than my 1987 Chevrolet pickup can dream of. Sure, the Audi will pass faster. It’s more comfortable. It’s more powerful.

        The 1987 Chevrolet seems more charming to me, though. All of my older vehicles have more charm.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Here, Car & Driver did all the grunt work for you:

      http://www.caranddriver.com/features/rocket-sleds-the-best-performers-from-50-years-of-car-and-driver-testing-acceleration-page-2

      Cobra 427 – 12.2 @118. I remember that they had one test with 0 to 100 mph to 0 in 12.5 secs. On modern tires, it would probably do even better.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    My roughly 225 horsepower Thunderbird feels plenty fun getting slammed through corners at 15 mph over the speed limit, I don’t need a race car. :D

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      This.

      My Audi will supposedly do 130 MPH. My 1995 LeSabre is limited at 108 MPH, and my Impala will do 111. I’ve never been over 80-85 in my life. Why should I care what the top speed is? My 1995 F-150 has a speedometer that tops out at 85. That’s good enough for me.

  • avatar
    niky

    That center console was incredibly cheesy.

    Seems to me like they could have done some cheap “carbon-fiber” wrap for the same effect and less fabrication. And attached a racing wheel with a dummy display to the column.

    I’d say even some modern crossovers would surprise a lot of people on the racetrack. Since most people never experience the limits of grip of anything on a dry track, it doesn’t take all that much to impress them.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @niky
      What’s the premier racing series in the Philippines?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Why doesn’t TTAC do articles on some of the racing series in the globe?

        It would be interesting and surprising to see what is raced in some countries.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          Go to the newsstand and buy the Road and Track with the Alfa on the cover, and you’ll find a piece I wrote about racing — well, time-trialing — in Malaysia.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Thanks Jack,
            I have to find a news agent (stand), then one that has an international flair!

            Maybe when I’m in Darwin.

            The internet is the best form of communication we have.

            http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/bf/0c/8a/northern-territory.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      @Big Al: Malaysia has Sepang, which means things like Formula Three and touring cars and high-end GT cars aside from the lower-level touring cars… and then there’s that thing they call Formula One… which isn’t really local.

      The Philippines has only two major tracks (a third one, which used to run touring cars and open-wheelers, closed a few years ago). We run subcompact and compact touring car classes, time attacks, and now a Toyota cup series (Vios/Yaris spec cars with the typical upgrades and a TRD LSD). Our market is tiny, which means that local open-wheeled series have been near impossible to get past the starting stage, though they’re looking at hosting V8 tube-frame racers at Clark International Speedway now that it’s FIA-certified.

  • avatar
    Viquitor

    So basically nobody needs a M or an AMG. The average driver does not have the ability to get not even 30% of what an average car can do.

    I’ve been thinking about that myself lately. Recently I had the non-pleasure of driving my sister’s beater – a 1998, navy-blue, 1.0 Gol – upstate in Rio. That’s a sea-level to 1100 meters of altitude drive comprised in about a hundred miles. Nothing extreme, but a mildly entertaining uphill twitchy road.

    Just before the second tollbooth I overtook a circa-2010 2.0 Jetta running on 18 inch rims. Probably feeling deeply offended, the 20-something driver tried to overtake me back, but couldn’t. He could not properly cope with a single corner. The longest strait there is just shy of a quarter mile and comes after a hairpin – this is a road I take almost every month ever since my parents moved there 10 years ago, so I know it quite well.

    I was shocked that on that terrible car I could beat a much newer and quite more powerful car, but the answer is simple – I knew the road and the limits of the car and its 13-inch tires and I was not afraid to meet them. And my opponent knew nothing about his own car’s capabilities. Like most people do, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The other issue with a higher performance car is that you can’t safely approach the limit on the street, it’s so high that you’ll be endangering those around you if you try.

      As the Porsche 356 guys say, it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

  • avatar
    dude500

    “whatever car you’re driving, as long as it’s a car and not a CUV or SUV, is probably faster and more dynamic than you think it is.”

    Even CUVs, SUVs and minivans are faster and more dynamic than most people can handle.

    The 2011+ Town and Country, for example, reacts very well to overlapping left foot braking + throttle for nailing apexes in anger. The weight transfer/lightening of the rear is very progressive.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Yeah I have a friend who has a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, very nice sports car, has never driven it fast.

    For his birthday he got an ‘exotic car experience’ driving a Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc. around Toronto. But the cars have speed limiters set to around 30% of max throttle.

    Anyway, I agree the $200 he spent could have been much more fun at a local track day with his own car. But then again I’ve never done it myself either.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The exotic driving experience I did in Orlando used a dial that could adjust the throttle anywhere from 30% to 100%. The first couple laps was at 70% or so and once you proved you weren’t a buffoon, the instructor opened it all the way. The 997 911 was still way too much car for me. I’d have preferred to have our MCS on the track instead. Unfortunately, it would have cost me more than $200 to do the same track time in the MINI. Tires, fuel, track time, etc add up.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    If you’re going to do a track day, you should flush your brake system, and get front pads that are a bit better than the stock ones. You don’t want or need racing spec pads, which are designed to be effective at higher temperatures and aren’t all that good when they’re cold.

  • avatar
    jimf42

    I concur with the statement that most people have no idea of what a modern street car is capable of on the track…while instructing for a driver’s school two years ago, I too out two passengers (students) for station wagon runs in my old Focus SVT with 100K miles on it to show the lines and braking points…they were very surprised and I wasn’t by any means at the limit of the car.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You don’t do this sort of limit-testing with your own car, because you’re afraid you’ll break something expensive internally. That’s why I wouldn’t do it.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Nearly all cars built in the last 20 years will do fine on a track day, provided that you leave them stock and run a moderate spec street tire. Where people get into trouble is when they start adding grip with suspension upgrades or extra sticky tires. This can cause oil starvation or even a suspension component failure. If you go down the mod route, you may need to add some stronger suspension components and additional oil pan baffling.

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    It always makes me laugh/furious to be behind someone in a “performance” car/sedan (i.e. Maxima/Golf/Audi/etc.) who will take a curving exit ramp @ 20 mph! Or even worse, drive up the acceleration lane at 45 mph to merge into traffic doing 60 mph or more! IMO, the average driver TRULY doesn’t even approach using 50% of a cars capability…let alone get into the “hair raising” part!! :-)

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The vehicle brand I passed on the interstate most while driving a base model 2005 Vibe across country in 2011.

      BMW. Seriously.

      Perhaps those people were intimidated by the Pontiac’s arrow head and double kidney grille.

  • avatar
    mechaman

    ..or not. There are too many idiots out there for my taste, and I can’t expect them to wad up their cars on a track.

  • avatar

    I was reading this article and I see no mention of Altima SERs.

    Yes those were made in 05-06.

    I have one that I use in HPDE.
    Those car were really quick and well handled right out of the box.
    With good pads and rubber they are as quick as any 350z, and if you want more power there is plenty mods do push it pass 350 HP.

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