Peer closely into the boomerang headlights of the 2016 Nissan Maxima and you will notice an small easter egg: 4DSC. It’s a callback to the now nostalgic 1988-94 Maxima and its subtle window sticker that told the world it was no ordinary sedan; it was a “4-Door Sports Car.”
It’s a bold claim, but Nissan is hoping that the new eighth-gen Maxima will reignite the models once-sporting image. To be fair, the current Maxima is a totally competent sedan, big and comfortable and with plenty of power for almost any situation; it’s just not a standout in the same way the third-gen was.
In addition to the “4DSC” embossed in both the head- and taillights, the 2016 Maxima will also be 82 pounds lighter than the outgoing model but with even more power and luxury amenities. Nissan’s tried-and-true VQ 3.5 is now pushing an even 300hp, the same as the the twin turbo Z32.
Styling is taken straight from the Sports Sedan Concept shown a year ago, but toned down a bit and given a production-ready ride height. Many of executive design director Mamoru Aoki’s ideas, like the V-Motion grille and floating roof, made it through. It is the second Nissan to wear this new design language suit, after the recently released Nissan Murano. Blacked out A-pillars are meant to be reminiscent of the R35 GT-R as well.
Like the Murano, designers took some inspiration from jet fighters. In the Maxima’s case, it’s the wrap-around dashboard and joystick-like gear selector. Sadly, it selects only one gear because the dreaded Nissan CVT continues onward, which makes the “4DSC” printed on it particularly painful. Nissan says there are “Sport” and “Normal” settings to hold its artificial shift points higher, how that translates to a 4DSC feel remains to be seen. At least you’ll be comfy in sumptuous-looking diamond-quilted seat pattern reminiscent of the Datsun 240Z’s trunk lining.
The Maxima was always a notch above its competition back in the day. Armed with a 190hp V6, it was more powerful than the Accord or 626, but handled better than a six-pot Camry. It was pretty good competition for the BMW 325i, even. Nissan does say that the Maxima lapped Buttonwillow faster than a new 328i, so there’s that. The 2016 Maxima goes on sale in June. We shall see if it lives up to the 4DSC name.
1991 Maxima image courtesy of Nissan.