When Nissan introduced the third-generation Altima in 2002, it showed the U.S. market that the company wasn’t content to be a bystander in the performance sedan game. With its 240-horsepower V6 and available manual transmission, the Altima SE-R quickly put the competition on notice. The car was the first front-wheel drive Nissan to crack 0-60 mph in under six seconds and boasted impressive handling dynamics that made it a real contender.
For 2005, the SE-R received a rework that included a sportier suspension and more power, plus a handful of unique exterior styling cues. Aluminum pedals replace the standard plastic ones, and a center-stack-mounted pod of three auxiliary gauges is added. A deeper front bumper with foglamps, side skirts, and a rear spoiler, along with a set of large 18-inch wheels and tires, give the SE-R its distinctive looks.
Nissan's comfortable cabin can easily seat five adults. Up front, the bolstered SE-R seats are trimmed in gray or red leather with an embroidered logo and special stitching. The aft bench accommodates three, and all seating positions are well-padded and supportive. A Bose eight-speaker stereo system gushes out sound, and the instrument cluster and steering wheel resemble those of a Nissan Z sports car.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The SE-R's strut-type front and multilink rear suspensions have stiffer spring rates, shock valving, and larger-diameter stabilizer bars to improve handling response and cornering grip. Larger front brake calipers emblazoned with the SE-R logo round out the changes. The ride can be a bit choppy over rough roads, but the Altima SE-R handles its size with poise and has good road feel for a car of this kind.