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Nissan Maxima 30GV Car Review
Although very successful in the small to medium car market, Nissan has never really been able to capture the larger luxury car segment, with both the Infinity and the Maxima being overshadowed by Toyota's Lexus and, until 1993, Cressida models.
The 1997 update of the Maxima involves minor exterior cosmetic changes to the 1995 model with a few mechanical refinements and a price restructure to increase its appeal to the motoring public.
The improvements that apply across the Maxima range are new wheels, new design front grille, revised rear lamp assemblies and new paint colours. Nissan claims this model is identical externally to the Infinity 130 as sold on the North American market.
The base 30S Touring model, priced at $37,990, carries the most visible changes of the 97 Maxima line-up, with front and rear spoiler and side skirts, plus standard remote keyless entry.
New alloy wheels, woodgrain panels in both the dash and door armrests, automatic climate control air conditioning and a CD player have been added to the 30G, with a price tag of $40,990.
The flagship of the Maxima range gains full leather seats and interior door trims, driver and passenger air bags, electrically operated sun roof, foglights, speed sensitive steering and Nissan's Active Damper Control suspension. The price tag on the 30GV is $49,990.
Designed and assembled in Japan, the Maxima is intended to slot into the lower end of the luxury car market. The new grille has a definite Nissan stamp about it promoting the corporate image along with its other models. Changes to the rear lamps have given it a softer more conventional look and whilst the overall styling is not startling, it is not an unattractive car. Maxima will have to compete with Calais, Fairmont, Verada and Vienta, as well as the lower end of the European imports.
Panel and paint finish is of a high standard and a number of safety features have been incorporated in the body structure.
The first impression of the Maxima's leather covered seats, is of being seated on a park bench, being very firm with limited side support. However, the firmer cushioning is appreciated after driving over longer distances. Although the front seat positions offer good head and leg room, the rear passenger area is not so generous, particularly in the centre position. Boot space is roomy although the rear seats do not fold down and the rear lip is fairly high, restricting the entry of some bulkier items. Access through the centre of the rear seat enables longer items, such as skis, to be carried.
The instrument cluster contains large clear and easy to read dials and the controls around the steering wheel are well placed and easy to operate. The centre control facia housing the clock, airconditioning controls and music system are set in imitation walnut and although clearly marked and functional, they are remote from the driver requiring extra effort to lean forward to access them. Some controls are poorly located and hard to use.
The overall handling package lends itself to touring on the highway, the MacPherson strut front and multi link rear suspension giving a firm but comfortable ride. I could not detect any discernible difference in ride or handling with the Active Damper Control selected. The power rack and pinion steering, although appearing light at first, gives reasonable feel on the open road.
The smooth, quiet all-alloy V6 engine introduced in the 1995 model Maxima is retained in this latest update along with Nissan's silky smooth automatic transmission. Acceleration times were certainly very competitive and it all happens with a minimum of fuss.
Under the bonnet is not particularly service friendly with some items being difficult to access. The long term warranty along with free 24 hour roadside assistance could be an incentive to prospective buyers.
I would not consider the Maxima a driving enthusiast's car. However, it is comfortable, it handles and performs well, and although not outstanding in its class, it does fit snugly into the lower end of the luxury car market, though not without considerable competition.
By NRMA Motoring, October 1997.
Overall equipment level
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Warranty||Three years / 100,000 km|
$37,990 - 30S Touring
|Engine size||2.988 L|
|Induction||Multi-point fuel injection|
|Claimed max power (kW)||142 kW @ 6400 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||278 Nm @ 4000 rpm|
|Wheel size||15 "|
|Turning circle (measured)||11.2 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||1770 mm|
|Fuel capacity||70 litres|
|Max towed mass (trailer plus load)||1200 kg|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||44|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||4.2 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||6.0 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||6.2 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||9.1 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||11.0 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||12.8 L/100km|
|Average on test||11.6 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||31.5 metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||64 dB(A)|
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