Iron fist in a velvet glove: Nissan 350 Ti Maxima
  |  First Published: March 2012

The Nissan flagship Maxima is something special. While lots of 4WD makers claim a car-like ride, few can compare to the top shelf, ultra refined performance given by this vehicle.

The Nissan Maxima has been around for two decades, arriving from Japan (where Australian models are still manufactured) in 1990. Early versions had fire cracker engines but indifferent looks. With several upgrades, the 2012 Series 3 model has much more refined styling features, an attractive front and side profile, a host of interior and exterior goodies, a CVT auto transmission that can be flicked into six speed manual mode, and a potent 3.5L multi-point fuel-injected petrol DOHC V6.

A lot of modern vehicles with CVT units offer lack lustre acceleration, but the Maxima will repay a right foot prod with a lusty roar and the tacho needle moving instantly to the right. With the red line at 6,500rpm there’s a lot of power on tap under that smoothly sloping bonnet. The vital engine statistics are 185kW of power, 326Nm of torque.

A lot more

For the test drive I scored a top of the range 350 Ti Maxima. However, a lot of the ‘fruit’ found in the Ti is also available in the lower specced ST-S model as well. The leather seating is featured throughout both models, as well as all electric operation, cruise control and air bags.

Keyless entry is featured in the Ti. Even with the transponder in the pocket, only a touch on the door handle sees the vehicle unlocked.

There’s an eight way power adjustment for the drivers’ seat with a memory function to return to the designated setting. There is also a four way adjustment for the front passenger, and both seats can be heated in the cold weather.

Rear seat passengers haven’t been neglected either, with lots of room above and in front, and air-conditioning from the climate control dual air system.

best drive

The Maxima’s silky smooth V6 cannot be heard at idle or during any normal driving mode, and will only snarl a little if pushed hard. The CVT auto-linked to the front wheels is so smooth it’s hard to believe that the same unit can kick down so rapidly for spirited overtaking or offer snappy manual changes when selected.

Its ride quality is everything that a highly developed passenger sedan should be, thanks to the gas dampened struts and coils up front, and a multi link system at the rear. This is one sophisticated system.

Controls and functions on the dash area don’t require extended time to work them out. There’s Blue Tooth connectivity, a CD player linked to a Bose audio system with 11 speakers including two woofers, a DVD player with Dolby surround sound, an intuitive large screen SAT NAV system with trip computer, along with plenty of other user-friendly functions.

The boot is huge. While the Maxima won’t ever be loaded for a run up the beach, it will carry plenty of cargo behind the passenger’s seat for a trip to an adjacent camping ground, or perhaps carry gear to assist in a fishing trip with the boat. And it has plenty of grunt to easily tow a boat, thanks to a braked towing capacity of 1200kg; unbraked at 750kg.

There are some many other desirable features of the 2012 Series 3 Ti Maxima, which include a glass, slide/tilt sunroof, Side Visual Parking Assist System that displays a useful image in the side of the left mirror for the driver, and adaptive front lighting which, upon being activated by the left turn indicator, throws extra lighting to the left.

Fuel consumption from the V6 is not overly hard. Rated at around 10.5L per 100km I found it quite achievable, as long as the temptation to experience that impressive launch feel could be put aside.

Warranty is 3 years or 100,000km, which ever comes first with services every 12 months or 15,000km. Price of the Ti 350 Maxima is around $49,130 plus on road cost.

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