All-New 2009 Nissan Maxima Recaptures Its Place as the True “4-Door Sports Car” Premium Performance Sedan
The 2009 Nissan Maxima, which makes its world debut at the 2008 New York International Auto Show, marks a return to the longtime Nissan flagship sedan’s roots as a commanding 4-door sports car – a vehicle that is unique in both appearance and driving feel, with renewed relevance for today’s active and ambitious sedan buyers. In other words, the Maxima is back.
The all-new 2009 Maxima will be offered as two well-equipped models, Maxima 3.5 S and Maxima 3.5 SV, and is scheduled to arrive at Nissan dealers nationwide in early summer 2008.
“Maxima has always enjoyed a certain ‘duality’ – a unique fusion of sedan practicality with the soul of a sports car,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “In recent years, however, competitive vehicles have caught up with Maxima in ‘sporty’ looks and performance. For 2009, Nissan is reclaiming its rich 4-Door Sports Car heritage with an infusion of emotional design, driving excitement and advanced technology – creating a silky, stimulating sports sedan like no other on the road today.”
Three key areas were singled out for change: exterior design, which needed to be more aggressive, with more personality and attitude; a “super” cockpit, creating an interior that combines a driver orientation with high quality, roominess and user-friendly technology; and class-leading performance, enhancing what previous generation owners called “Maxima-ness.” To further push the performance envelope, the development team challenged themselves to concentrate their efforts on “emotional engineering” – to experience Maxima with the five senses in a purer, more visceral manner, rather than through CAD drawings and computer simulations. As each designer and engineer set and exceeded higher and higher targets, they realized that confirmation of the results would require validation on the road. But not just any road. Members of the development team traveled to Germany’s famed Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit – not coincidentally the site of much of the GT-R’s performance development work – to test Maxima prototypes. Special attention was placed on body rigidity, suspension and steering, along with honing Maxima’s competitiveness against some well-established European sports sedans.
Aggressive Design Adds a “Wow” Factor to the Sedan Category
While seeking to create a simple-yet-strong presence, the designers of the new Maxima’s exterior also wanted to re-assert Maxima’s breakthrough personality – establishing a “wow” level of style that would clearly distinguish it from segment competitors.
The exterior design theme for the new Maxima is “Liquid Motion” – focusing on the flow of its powerful and beautiful surfaces, like the undulation of a wave. The look starts with Maxima’s aggressive stance and powerful fender volume, which is not unlike many exotic sports cars on the market today. This deeply sculpted body/fender treatment is seldom used for mass market vehicles because of the engineering and manufacturing complexity required to physically accomplish it. Maxima’s new stance is created by a slight reduction in wheelbase and overall length, along with a wider front and rear track.
Maxima’s new look imparts a strong, premium presence. The large, wraparound L-shaped headlights add a unique dimension to the overall design, while the light surrounds suggest a powerful “turbine” appearance of energy and strength. The upturned headlight shape combines with a wide grille, large bumper opening and bulging “catamaran-style” hood to give Maxima a formidable expression, setting the tone for the rest of the vehicle. The powerful Maxima form continues along its profile, with careful layering of the bumper, hood and fender parting lines. The polished, elegant motion spreads from the deep-waisted rear fenders through distinctive Maxima-style C-pillars and high trunk lid.
At the rear, Maxima features a new 12-LED L-shaped taillight design, with a pair of side marker bulbs for added visibility during night driving.
Maxima is available in a choice of eight exterior colors: Winter Frost, Super Black, Navy Blue, Tuscan Sun, Radiant Silver, Mystic Jade, Precision Gray and Dark Slate.
Leading-Edge Sports Sedan Performance Platform
In creating driving performance worthy of Nissan’s flagship, the Maxima’s body and chassis engineering teams worked together to create a secure feeling, virtually no torque steer during acceleration and a level of nimbleness that ultimately makes a car fun to drive.
A range of enhancements helped achieve these targets, including increasing body rigidity and adjusting the wheelbase and track dimensions. Body rigidity was increased by 15 percent and front strut mounting rigidity was increased by 100 percent, with all-new structures added to the engine compartment and additional reinforcement applied to the instrument panel structure. Maximas equipped with the Sport or Premium Packages feature a panel behind the rear seat that improves torsional rigidity by 17 percent versus models with a fold-down rear seat (a rear trunk pass-through is utilized with this panel).
The 2009 Maxima has a wheelbase of 109.3 inches, a decrease of 1.9 inches versus the 2008 Maxima, and width has been increased by 1.5 inches to 73.2 inches. The front and rear track measurement of 62.4 inches represents increases of 1.4 inches front and 1.2 inches rear over the previous model.
Additional “D platform” enhancements include the use of aluminum suspension links, revised suspension geometry, new technology shocks, revised steering and suspension geometries, a lower engine mounting and application of a new Xtronic CVT™ (Continuously Variable Transmission), all of which contribute to minimal torque steer and improved handling prowess.
In refining the award-winning VQ-series V6 for use in the new Maxima, engine development engineers focused on three areas – increasing air intake, increasing fuel burn efficiency and lowering exhaust backpressure. Steps utilized to improve air intake included increasing intake manifold collector port diameter, adding a second power valve in the intake manifold, changing intake collector material to resin for less mass and more flow, redesigning the shape of the intake valves and increasing the throttle chamber diameter. Fuel burn efficiency was improved by increasing the engine’s compression ratio to 10.6:1 (from 10.3:1), changing the piston shape for reduction of friction and weight, and adding exhaust-side continuous valve timing control (quad valve timing system). Exhaust backpressure was reduced through optimizing the exhaust system layout.
The 2009 Maxima’s 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 is now rated at 290 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque (estimated), increases of 35 horsepower and 9 lb-ft of torque over the 2008 Maxima.
All 2009 Maximas come equipped with a revised Xtronic CVT™ with manual mode, tuned specifically for Maxima’s sporty driving character. The Maxima development team finessed the previous CVT design to improve responsiveness and strike a balance between sport and comfort, ultimately creating a transmission that provides a true synergy between engine and transmission, along with smooth, responsive and efficient operation.
Available paddle shifters, mounted on the steering column, allow manual transmission shift changes for varying scenarios – such as winding roads – while the driver’s hands remain on the wheel for optimum vehicle control.
The subframe-mounted strut/coil spring front suspension makes extensive use of lightweight aluminum parts. An X-type upper cowl structure helps establish front body rigidity for suspension mounting.
Maxima’s multi-link independent rear suspension design, also subframe-mounted, offers outstanding handling by minimizing camber change during cornering. The rear shock absorbers and springs are separated for minimized friction and the shocks are in line with the center of the rear wheels, providing excellent damping and minimal harshness. Front and rear stabilizer bars are standard.
The 2009 Maxima features a new Twin Orifice Power Steering (TOPS) vehicle-speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering system, similar to that utilized on the Nissan 350Z. The system features high accuracy gear, which is designed to offer improved high performance response, along with ease of driving at low speeds and a stable feel at high speed. Maxima has the quickest steering ratio of any Nissan sedan (15.2:1) to help provide its sporty steering feel. A new strut tower brace also contributes to Maxima’s improved steering precision and rigidity.
Every 2009 Maxima offers standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and V-rated P245/45R18 all-season tires. The Maxima 3.5 SV model with Sport Package features 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with P245/40R19 all-season or summer performance tires.
“Super Cockpit” Interior
Another challenge in designing a true sports sedan is creating an attractive, intimate, sporty cockpit feel for the driver without compromising the traditional sedan attributes of passenger comfort, roominess and utility.
The new Maxima’s interior design team developed an interior concept of “Super Cockpit, but with Space” – the feeling of a sports car with controls ergonomically close, yet with ample roominess and comfort for both driver and passengers. Key design words emphasized during development were “impressive and silky,” “high touch,” “craftsmanship” and “high tech.”
Every aspect of the interior layout, including the size and shape of touch points and placement of features, was improved for a better driving experience. The shifter lever, for example, was placed closer to the driver and falls easily to hand. This also allowed a cupholder to be placed to the right of the shifter device, not behind it. The transmission’s manual mode gate has been moved toward the driver for a more intuitive action.
To enhance the “cockpit feel” of the new Maxima’s interior, the center console has been raised, and a premium quality feel is provided through the extensive use of soft touch materials, as well as soft, deep pads where an arm or elbow may rest.
The high quality feeling is also expressed with “Daytime Illumination” electroluminescent meters, with a special tilting of the tachometer so engine redline is placed at the 12 o’clock position, and extensive use of chrome surrounds for the gauges, vent rings, vent knobs and audio switches.
The new Maxima’s three-spoke steering wheel is sport-oriented and its diameter has been reduced (compared with the previous Maxima) for improved feeling. Maxima Sport and Premium Package models feature a unique “parallel” pattern steering wheel stitching (versus the traditional baseball-style stitching) for enhanced grip.
Much development attention was spent on the 2009 Maxima’s driver’s seat, or “the Chair.” The special driver’s seat includes an available manual thigh extension for long distance driving, additional support in the side bolsters for good lateral support during sporty driving, as well as added seat height adjustability. The new Maxima’s seat height is 0.8 inches lower (at its lowest setting), which also enhances the sporty driver’s feel. The seat is also available with heating and cooling functions and premium leather-appointed surfaces with special stitching. Also available are power lower lumbar and memory function. The new Maxima’s front and rear seats share a common design theme for added harmony and cockpit feeling. The front seatbacks include a new slim, sculpted design, resulting in additional rear passenger knee room. The 2009 Maxima is available with two different rear seat layouts – a 60/40 fold-down rear seat with access to the trunk, and a fixed rear seat with center armrest pass-through for carrying long items such as skis or other sporting equipment. Three interior colors are offered for 2009: Café Latté, Frost and Charcoal. “The new Maxima is more tailored and refined than any Maxima that has come before, while maintaining a high-touch, high-tech sporty feel,” said Castignetti. “Its craftsmanship is outstanding, as is the quality look and feel – making Maxima an easy vehicle to enjoy, even when sitting still.” omfort and convenience features include a standard moonroof, 8-way power drivers seat and 4-way power adjustable front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic temperature control, cruise control with illuminated steering wheel mounted controls, Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, power windows and door locks, AM/FM/CD6/MP3 audio system with 8 speakers and an available Interface System for iPod
Maxima 3.5 SV models add leather-appointed sport seats, an advanced Bose® premium audio system with 9 speakers (including two subwoofers and a center channel speaker), speed-sensitive volume control and Radio Data System (RDS), HomeLink® Universal Transceiver, fog lights and outside mirrors with turn signal indicators.
A number of packages are also offered, including the Sport Package with sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, rear spoiler, High Intensity Discharge (HID) Xenon headlights, heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down features, automatic entry/exit system with two-driver memory, heated front seats and steering wheel, paddle shifters, metallic link trim, Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System, XM® Satellite Radio (active XM® subscription required, sold separately), premium leather-appointed seats and more.
The Premium Package includes the Dual Panel Moonroof with rear roof window and front and rear power retractable sunshades, High Intensity Discharge (HID) Xenon headlights, heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down features, automatic entry/exit system with two-driver memory, heated front seats and steering wheel, paddle shifters, premium leather-appointed seats, Eucalyptus wood-tone trim, 7.0-inch color monitor, RearView Monitor, Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System, XM® Satellite Radio (active XM® subscription required, sold separately) and more.
Several Tech Packages are available, including the Maxima 3.5 SV Tech Package, which includes an advanced Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System with Voice Recognition, 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive, XM NavTraffic® with Real-Time Traffic Information (active XM® subscription required, sold separately), 7.0-inch color monitor, XM® Satellite Radio (active XM® subscription required, sold separately), RearView Monitor and Interface System for iPod®.
The 2009 Maxima comes equipped with standard Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage front supplemental air bags, front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags for chest protection and roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags for front and rear outboard occupant head protection.
Also standard are front-seat Active Head Restraints, 3-point rear seat belts for all seating positions, front seat belts with adjustable upper anchors, pretensioners and load limiters, emergency inside trunk release, Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple zones, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) and Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
The 2009 Maxima also features a standard Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS). The 2009 Nissan Maxima will be assembled by Nissan North America Manufacturing Smyrna & Decherd Tennessee Plants.
Maxima Is Better Than Ever
“Our goal was to keep Maxima relevant to sports sedan enthusiasts, maintaining excitement and segment leadership,” said Castignetti. “Breakthrough design can only be accomplished by breaking through the limits you place on yourself. The passion and vision demonstrated by the Maxima development team has energized the entire organization. In the long, proud history of Maxima, this is one to remember.”