So this morning I was looking through my google reader via my iphone 4 while eating Cheerios. This has become my morning routine now for the last few months. I follow way to many RSS feeds. Far to many for me to actually read them all but his morning I happened to catch THIS review posted of the 2011 Nissan Maxima. It brought up something I haven’t really heard in a while. “The 4 Door Sports Car” or “4DSC”. This was a marketing slogan used by Nissan in 1989 to describe it’s newly re designed family sedan and was recently brought back with the 2009 model.
It got me thinking that with modern day consumer demands, fuel economy, and emisions regulations; looking at a 2011 Maxima doesn’t really scream “Sports Car”. Let’s take a little time here to look back at what the Maxima was and what it is today.
1977 – 1980 Brought us the original Datsun 810. A rear wheel drive 125hp 4spd manual. Powered by the same 2.4L engine found in the Datsun 240Z, this had very good promise as a sporty sedan.
1981 – 1984 Was the first car to get the Maxima name. First offered as an 810 Deluxe or 810 Maxima. In 1982 Datsun dropped the 810 and called it a Maxima for the first time. Still rear wheel drive and 240Z powered.
1985 – 1988 Enter the Front Wheel Drive Maxima. Powered by the same V6 found in the 300ZX and a 5spd Manual transmission, this car again showed good sporty sedan promise.
1989-1994 Welcome to the 4DSC. SE models of the Maxima got a 190hp DOHC engine with a 5Spd manual. All 1989 – 94 models wore the 4DSC sticker on the rear door glass.
1995 – 1999 The Maxima was redesigned with a new VQ Series 3.0L with 190hp and 205lb-ft. The option of a 5spd manual remained and kept the Maxima as one of very few V6 cars to offer a manual transmission at the time.
2000 – 2003 As far as fun goes, the 2002 and 2003 cars were probably the best years for the Maxima. It got an upgraded 3.5L V6 and an optional 6spd manual.
2004 – 2008 The begining of the end for manual 4DSC’s. This car got huge. It kept the 3.5L V6 with a few added ponies under the hood but in 2007 lost the manual transmission option.
2009 – Present The maxima keeps it’s large size and offers only a CVT transmission with no manual option. This car is marketed as the return of the 4DSC. But is it? The car is massive in size and has a CVT transmission, so what gives?
You can see how over the years, the Maxima started from a sports car. Powered by 240Z, 300Zx, and 350z engines, offering Manual transmissions, reasonable handling and a nimble size. At first glance, the 2009+ Maxima’s don’t look to offer the same 4DSC heritage Nissan claims. While 2011 doesn’t see a hole lot of new features, it still claims to be a 4DSC.
In the case of the Maxima, it seems that modern innovation has actually changed what a 4 Door Sports car is. While it may no longer offer a Manual Transmission, it DOES offer a quick CVT transmission with paddle shifters. The 3.5L engine and paddle shifting CVT send this 3500lb car down the 1/4 mile in 14.5 seconds. Thats more then respectable for this size of a car. Also note worthy is that fact that Nissan ditched their sport beam suspension used through out the 90’s and gave the Maxima independent rear suspension again. Also offered is an optional Sports Package which offers some styling and suspension enhancements to further the 4DSC experience.
So is it still a 4DSC? I’d say so, it still offers that luxury interior, good build quality, and seats for 4 while putting down some sports car like numbers. In an ever growing Hybrid market, it’ll be interesting to see how true Nissan stays to the sports sedan in future models.