QotW: What car still feels new to you even though it’s actually old?

As lovers of classic cars our perception of time can get seriously warped. That often manifests itself when we see a car like the Nissan 350Z, which because we grew up admiring the S30-Z32 generations, we think of as new even though it came out over 20 years ago. Maybe it’s because there was a Z hiatus between Z32 and Z33, or perhaps it’s the styling, but the 350Z just doesn’t give us the same warm fuzzy feeling or jolt of excitement as its predecessors when we see one.

What car still feels new to you even though it’s actually old?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Which Nissan model is the most Nissan?“.

There were many good arguments made for many Nissan models. The usual suspects like Jim Simpson‘s Skyline, Negishi no Keibajo‘s 510, and Lakdasa‘s President are all worthy of the honor of “most Nissan Nissan.” On the other end of the spectrum. BlitzPig went with the Sentra and Altima to show just how far modern Nissan has fallen from those iconic models.

Surprisingly, the J30 Maxima 4DSC got a couple of shout-outs from Maurice Tyler and Franxou, who made a very compelling case.

Of course, the nameplate that got the most nominations was — you guessed it — the Z. Benjamin Luke Heynen, lb1, Taylor C., and Kalervo Kasurinen all nominated what should probably be the rightful answer to the question.

However, the winner this week was GSX-R35, who combined nearly all the characteristics exemplified by the models and answers above into one model that represents them all:

It’s not a nostalgic (yet) but I volunteer the Nissan Juke. Why? Because it embodies so many of the great things about Nissan as well as the missteps it’s taken in its history.

When it first debuted as a concept it was called avant garde by the charitable and fugly by critics and few thought it would be a successful production car. Once it was a production car it sold like crack in Europe and did fairly well in other markets too. Typical Nissan, take a risk on a weird design and have it be a smashing success. It was also ahead of its time like many Nissan concepts.

Also typical Nissan though was the shortsighted decision to not sell the much-improved second-gen version in North America despite the insatiable appetite here for crossovers – a recurrent theme with Nissan in that the company has often failed to properly follow-up on its successes (for other examples see how badly they squandered their lead in EVs and how they wasted Infiniti’s potential).

The design was typical for many Nissans: polarizing. Whether its a Juke, GT-R, Cube, Murano, pike car, Rasheen, or any number of other Nissans you’ll see many haters but just as many or more who lust after them more than Sidney Sweeney in a Hooters uniform.

It had cool tech baked in like many Nissans – torque-vectoring AWD, a peppy turbo four, all the Nissan safety tech of the time – but Nissan let it languish without an update for too long, another repeated refrain for the company.

The Juke also got blessed with a Nismo version which was cool on its face but underwhelming in execution since it was mainly an appearance package with some suspension tuning and next-to-no power bump. Oh, and a performance pack that doesn’t let you get a manual with AWD – just FWD? Yeah Nismo, F that. Typical Nissan and Nismo – highs and lows all the damn time.

But then they went bonkers and built the Juke-R – an absolutely insane animal with twice the power of the stock Juke, a roll cage, and a price fit for only oil sheiks and drug lords. This from a company so typically conservative its top of the line performance car has been largely unchanged for two decades. Nissan isn’t immune to crazy sh*t though as witnessed by the hand-built 1st gen Silvia or the travesty that is the Murano CrossCabriolet.

And like many Nissans the Juke is destined for (cult?) classic status for its uniqueness.

Because the Juke encapsulates the highs and lows of the sometimes schizoprenic company it hails from I say its as Nissan a vehicle as you can get.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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This post is filed under: Question of the Week.

7 Responses to QotW: What car still feels new to you even though it’s actually old?

  1. StreetSpirit says:

    that honour goes to our 2006 civic, crazy to think the car is almost of voting age.

    with the other cars in the street spirit fleet having plank like dashes with big round gauges or dashes so simplistic they might as well be a fisher price toy the civic is something else.

    Textured and silver painted plastics embrace your hands like an ergonomic computer mouse. Welcome to the sensible zone, utterly devoid of anything tempting you to misbehave behind the ginormous steering wheel (compared to the wood rim steering wheels i make at least) of the four wheeled salaryman you’re greeted by an ergonomic cockpit like environment presenting spreadsheets of data from your fuel consumption, averages ambient temperature, projected range, quarterly numbers…you name it.

    Quiet, diligent and sophisticated the civic provides luxury like steering wheel controls for the radio, AC, it starts every time, even in winter and never spit a fireball nor does it dramatically break traction due to it’s most sensible front wheel drive layout.

  2. Alan says:

    My 2002 LS430.

    I’m in a line of business that brings me in contact with lots of cars – old ones, new ones, typically special and often very expensive ones. I’ve been lucky to drive many very interesting machines over the years, including top-tier luxury machines. German and British things that cost more than the average Missourian’s comfy suburban three-bedroom home.

    Big Lex holds up. Never disappoints. Always feels extraordinary. The car oozes quality and refinement at every level. The way the doors shut, the feel of the materials used (even in places where hands don’t normally go), the smoothness and response of the engine and transmission, the way it glides down the road like buttered grease, and the oh-so-perfectly balanced driving experience. It feels like an army of dedicated engineers at the top of their game obsessed over every last detail, because they did.

  3. MikeRL411 says:

    My 1997 Infiniti J30T. I am the first buyer of this car. It was used by Nissan corporate for its first year after manufacture [it has a 3-digit VIN], I have put very few miiles on it, My insurance firm is astounded by its low milage [under 100,000 miles after all these years?].

  4. Taylor C. says:

    Agree on the Z33 Nissan 350Z. I think many of the ones I see on the road are also clapped out, which further lends to it’s “all used up” image. Maybe after another 5-7 years we’ll see the untouched ones and our minds will bend back into shape.

    My mom’s 1998 Nissan Maxima GXE with the Convenience package. At over 26 years old and 135k miles, the car feels so good still. It’s not so much about having the most computer technology, but moreso the quality and how the car’s held up. This was something my parents splurged for back in 1998. We had only dabbled with cars around $10k, and this brand new car was a whopping $22k OTD,

    It all starts with the lifting that exterior door handle along its hinge without any friction. The unlatching is very simple, and the door swings with momentum due to the heft. I get into the driver’s seat, still in perfect shape and no sagging bolsters (yes, my mom is a petite lady). Once inside I adjust the power seats (quiet motors), while breathing in the little bits of the new-car smell. The fitment of all the panels inside is perfect, and although there’s no LED screens or Carplay or that tech, the quality just lives through the test of time. We have always kept the car clean, and the interior shows.

    When I fire up the engine, the smooth VQ comes to life with that recognizable startup exhaust note. I have convinced my parents that cars last a long time, and periodic maintenance goes a long way. I one-touch the sunroof and it effortless opens up, as do the windows. No groaning motors, just smoothness. Put the car into “D” and the four-speed automatic goes through the gears. As I get onto the freeway on-ramp, I stab the gas pedal and the transmission kicks down to second gear. The V6 unwinds so smoothly and the power delivery is so linear. The car just feels like a horizontal space shuttle. 80MPH is gliding, the steering is direct, the interior is devoid of wind noise / rattles / shakes. A/C blows cold and doesn’t smell moldy. Maximas are the 4DSC, and this car still takes the turns and corners in reminding you that it’s not an appliance.

    The car feels new, but definitely does not look new anymore, as my parents’ 2018 Accord EX-L resides in the garage now. The Maxima has the windshield sun shade to protect the interior, but the exterior paint has seen better days. Not worth investing into keeping it aesthetically attractive at this point. The radio display (LCD) doesn’t work, and my parents don’t care to upgrade that. The old speakers are deteriorated, and the power antenna needs to be replaced. However, whenever I visit them I prefer to borrow the Maxima for my excursions. It’s an honest car that doesn’t reveal its age, continues to serve, and feels new each time I get in.

  5. nlpnt says:

    Pontiac Vibe, particularly with the unpainted matte gray flares and rocker panel trim. A truly compact crossover/wagon with a minimum of truck-ness. It’s a 2002 calendar-year launch in the early 2020s’ hottest segment.
    Plus the 9th-generation Corolla bones mean they’re still everywhere, often in reasonably good shape even in road-salt states.

    • Lee L says:

      I was thinking the same. Ours met a sad fate after being rear-ended by a 4-runner, otherwise would still be driving with over 300k on the clock.

      I always liked the interior design of the car because it felt modern, but simple. The AC power outlet was awesome and the seats were all very comfortable for long drives. The styling was unique and pretty sleek, definitely better than the matrix in my opinion.

      I plan to get another one eventually as the only problem it had over 285k miles was the fan going bad (30 bucks and 15 minutes to swap out).

  6. エーイダン says:

    The third-generation Toyota Prius. Such a symbol of modernity is in reality almost as old as me. I was only 4 years old when these were launched to the public. Ever since then they are just as everywhere in Taxi form as the old FX4 black cabs were in London up until the 2000s or so. Kinda strange to think that the quintessential hybrid car is now over 20 years old.

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