2012 Nissan Altima V-6 coupe road test: Not for a big family, but fun for the rest of us

2012 Nissan Altima V-6 coupe

2012 Nissan Altima V-6 coupe

Chances are pretty good that you won’t often see a near clone of your car  approaching if you happen to be cruising around in a Nissan Altima coupe.

That’s understandable, really. The bulk of buyers are generally looking for practical transportation so they eschew the sexiness of  two doors for the sensibility of four, or more.

But If you are one of the others — one who enjoys a little form over function, a person who often thinks that getting there can be at least half the fun — then the Altima coupe might just be what you are looking for.

I recently spent a week with a 2012 Altima Coupe 3.5 SR and discovered to my pleasure that it is a car I could easily live with.

I was taken in by the smooth and powerful V-6 engine, the involvement of a six-speed manual transmission that is not even available on Altima sedans, the independent suspension that  nearly erases the inherent disadvantage of a front-drive car with 61 percent of its weight bearing down on those front wheels.

I short, I was enticed by a car that is actually enjoyable to drive.

In my empty-nester life, it is not required that I have a huge trunk or an easily accessed back seat for a trio of gangly teen-agers.

Instead, I can indulge myself with 270 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, enough to get me from a stop to 60 mph in 6 seconds, or less.

More importantly, I can enjoy a romp along lightly traveled, twisty back roads, secure in the knowledge that the Altima is a willing accomplice.

Torque steer, the tug on the steering wheel that is the bugaboo of powerful front-drive cars, is basically absent.

The independent suspension, struts in front and a multi-link setup at the rear, returns a ride that is a bit firmer than that of the sedan, but the slightly stiffer ride is more than balanced by the Nissan’s sharp handling qualities.