The Nissan Maxima’s replacement is finally on track for arrival next fall as a 2015 or early-2016 model, with a shift in focus toward performance to better differentiate Nissan’s flagship sedan from the popular (but bland) Altima sedan.

Exclusive TopSpeed Renderings show a speculative preview of this hot new sports sedan, which looks to shake off the front-drive proportions and goofy grin in favor of a wider, lower and meaner style like the 370Z and GT-R.

Nissan’s sports car lineup has never been this strong, and continued support for the company’s two tiers of performance cars has really helped the brand’s image, despite being diluted from selling millions of basic Sentra’s and Versa econoboxes to pay the bills.

The Maxima was really at a crossroads before this current re-alignment to its 4DSC roots. The next generation was even mooted to go the full EV route, with the cab-forward styling of the 2011 Nissan Ellure concept thought to be previewing both the just-launched Altima and next Maxima.

Another option on the table would adapt the 370Z’s latest chassis for use in a rear-drive sedan, or even a stretched GT-R of our dreams. These two scenarios are far less likely than a continued front-drive layout, but low and dramatic proportions that evolve the boring Nissan look very nicely.

Keeping the existing Maxima layout is a safe bet because it is the only way to continue the current model’s $31,000 to $36,000 price range. Nissan’s ability to sell a volume sedan for more than $40,000 is less than a sure thing, especially with Infiniti’s billion-dollar name changes and new Q50 sedan to replace the G37.

Click past the jump for a closer look at these exclusive renderings, with the 2015 Nissan Maxima debuting as soon as this fall or winter at one of the major auto shows.

  • 2016 Nissan Maxima Nismo
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    6-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • MPG(Cty):
  • MPG(Hwy):
  • Torque @ RPM:
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.5 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front-engine, Front-drive
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior Styling - Exclusive TopSpeed Rendering

2016 Nissan Maxima Nismo Exclusive Renderings
- image 521386

The next Maxima looks sharp, low and aggressive in these previews, which base the roofline and proportions on a brief glimpse of a future design shown to the press at a recent Nissan event.

Even with the most likely scenario of a front-drive, front-engine platform, the styling exercise shows real progress in establishing a global Nissan face. The styling woes and overlap between Nissan and Infiniti designers has created a confused and disjointed line, with too much similarity between a $15,000 Sentra’s grille and those used on the Infiniti Q70. You better believe no one would be buying BMW 750Li sedans for $100,000 if there was a $10,000 rental car that looked just like it.

The Maxima’s trend-setting place in the Nissan range was also blatantly replicated on the firm’s cheapest sedans, leaving the current Maxima without much of the cool factor enjoyed by the 370Z and GT-R.

2015 Nissan Maxima Preview - Styling Comparison:

2016 Nissan Maxima Nismo Exterior
- image 521409

In the exterior dimension estimates below, the dimensions of the next Maxima are likely to be lower, longer and much wider. Width is the key buying factor for many people who like a big car versus a midsize, so the Maxima will grow in size but also have a steep, rear-drive-style windshield angle and reclined racing seating position.

This is a big change versus the Nissan Ellure concept, which adds more Prius-like features for a deeply raked glasshouse and EV-hinting details.

The roofline is the most drastic drop: from the previous Toyota Echo-like look of the Maxima, the new sedan is expected to chop more than 2 inches from the total height. The long and low graphic is at once both very satisfying and interesting, with a shorter-than-normal front overhang and a deeply sloping roof.

The blacked-out pillars are a key GT-R styling feature that help the car look like the Stig’s helmet with a continuous bar of black-tinted glass. The pillars themselves are also black, offering a floating roof that is anchored by a painted pillar only at the trunk.

2015 Nissan Maxima Nismo Preview - Exterior Dimensions Projection:

Nissan 2014 Maxima 2015 Maxima Estimates
Wheelbase (in.) 109.3 112.3, est
Length (in.) 190.6 192.8, est
Width (in.) 73.2 75.5, est
Height (in.) 57.8 54.0, est
Front Track Width (in.) 62.4 63.1, est
Rear Track Width (in.) 62.4 62.8, est
Drag Coefficient 0.33 0.29, est

Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes

2016 Nissan Maxima Nismo Exclusive Renderings
- image 521387

The teaser image does not answer any questions about the powerplant or drive layouts, which are still unknown at this point. The Maxima is currently built in Smryna, Tennessee with the Altima, making the dream rear- or all-wheel-drive layout only the slimmest of slim possibilities. The GT-R and 370Z both come from Japan.

Even so, a much more powerful update of the Maxima’s 3.5-liter engine could easily add 40 horsepower to the current total of 290. The current Maxima’s biggest problems for sports car buyers are its CVT gearbox and torque steer.

Even without GT-R or Infiniti-level rear-drive platforms, the Maxima’s abilities can be greatly enhanced by a better transmission and a limited-slip differential.

This option will allow a $45,000 Nismo variant of the Maxima to use all the tricks in the book to increase performance: track-ready springs, semi-slick tires with Nitrogen fill, a limited-slip differential and perhaps even rear wheel steering.

All of these features help the GT-R to be the Nurburgring lap king, not by the max speed achieved, but by how much pace it can maintain in the corners. When studied extensively by Porsche, the GT-R was discovered to be entering and leaving most of the Green Hell’s corners at far higher speeds than any 911.

All this knowledge can easily be applied to powerful front-drive cars, which bodes well for true 4DSC potential.

A manual box and possibly a double clutch unit would make a world of difference for the Maxima - especially if the basic models keep the dreaded CVT gearbox. Very few car guys would even consider buying a CVT automobile.

2015 Nissan Maxima Nismo Preview - Performance Details:

Engine 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 With DOHC And VVT, est
Transmission CVT, Manual or DCT possible
Powertrain Layout Front-engine, Front-drive, est
Power 325 @ 6,400, est
Torque 298 @ 4,400, est
0-60 mph 5.5 seconds, est
Top Speed 137 mph, est
EPA Fuel Economy MPG (City/Highway/Combined) 21/29/24, est

Pricing and Availability

2016 Nissan Maxima Nismo Exclusive Renderings
- image 521386

The next Maxima is very close to being launched. The current model has been in Special Edition mode since 2012 while the final Maxima positioning was established.

Pricing for the new car will hopefully stay at the same $31,000 base level as today, but with much more potential to spend $40,000 with active safety options and (fingers crossed) a Nismo upgrade that delivers real driving pleasure - something like… a sports car, but with four doors....

Stay tuned for all the latest updates on the Maxima, which will almost definitely break cover this winter ahead of its arrival in American Nissan dealers next fall.

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