Nissan Maxima J30 (1989-1995): Buyer's Guide, Test

Nissan discontinues the Maxima. The 1989 J30 is a cool youngtimer. How did it go down in the test back then and what do you have to look out for when buying today?

According to media information, Nissan will stop production of the Maxima luxury model after eight generations. The series, which is particularly popular in the USA, will be over in mid-2023. On the German market, the Laurel successor struggled against the established competition. It wasn't because of the quality of the car, as a test of the J30 model built between 1989 and 1995 from auto motor und sport 9/1989 shows. We publish the text by Götz Leyrer in the original spelling.

Nissan Maxima 3.0 V6 tested by auto motor und sport

With the Maxima, a lavishly equipped three-liter sedan at an affordable price, Nissan is striving for success in a class in which the Japanese have so far remained outsiders. But no false modesty: "The car buyer," according to the press release formulated by the German Nissan importer for the new Maxima sedan, "is no longer willing to accept any price and any equipment, no matter how meager, just because a car has a certain status symbol has." The message is clear: the rationally thinking person exposes the renowned German manufacturers as despicable bag cutters. At Nissan, he buys similarly good things and saves a whole stack of thousand-mark bills in the process.

Financially attractive: 41,000 marks basic price

The Maxima cannot be denied financial attractiveness. This new limousine costs almost 41,000 marks. Its stature is aimed at the five-series from BMW and the middle-class models from Mercedes as benchmarks, and with a three-litre, 170 hp (125 kW) six-cylinder engine it is even in the upper range of this market segment is placed. An above-average range of standard equipment is also offered, which makes the price difference to German cars of the better society so large that the Maxima could theoretically be supplemented by a very respectable second car.

However: Experience has shown that a low price alone is not enough to take market share from German manufacturers in this class, in which the technical and qualitative level is very high. So what else does the big Nissan have to offer? Visually, not much - just a body with all the hallmarks of modern aerodynamic styling, certainly not ugly, but not so accentuated that anyone would turn their heads. After all, there are no functional defects. Getting in and out is easy, the layout is good and the very large, easily accessible trunk is easy to use. The fact that there is no possibility of variation by folding down the rear seat backrest should therefore only be perceived as a disadvantage in exceptional cases.

The interior space is decent: a lot of knee room in the rear, but not enough headroom for tall people. The style of the interior reveals contemporary objectivity. Nothing looks cheap; the plastic surfaces of the dashboard strive for the somewhat irregular structure of expensive buffalo skin, the comfortable seats are covered with a non-slip velor fabric that supports their already good lateral support. The height and inclination of the seat can be adjusted, as can the steering wheel, making it easy to find an adequate seating position. The eye falls on a set of instruments that evil tongues could claim was copied from the Porsche 944 almost down to the last detail. But what the heck - that's not a bad role model after all.

Plenty of space, well-arranged cockpit

The controls are also clear and well-arranged, with the easy-to-reach switches for the electric windows housed in the armrest worthy of mention. There are also clearly marked pushbuttons for heating and ventilation, both of which are characterized by their good effect and controllability. It is very pleasant that when the footwell is heated, fresh air can be mixed in through the two central vents in the dashboard.

Finally, the processing quality is also to be commended. The Maxima body feels stiff and solid over bumpy tracks, there are no creaking plastic parts and no obvious slacks in detail.

The impression of comfort, which is characterized by spaciousness and equipment, is reinforced when driving - and that's actually rather surprising for a Japanese car. After all, the Japanese have rightly had the reputation of being less perfect than the Europeans in the art of chassis tuning.

Comfortable, but not very active to drive

In any case, a remarkable step forward was taken with the Nissan. Apart from the road noise, which is somewhat intrusive on rough concrete roads, the Maxima offers smooth comfort, its soft suspension absorbs small bumps cleanly and shows at best on very long-stroke waves through oscillating body movements that the damping is a bit too soft. This already indicates that the Maxima is not necessarily a car for those who still enjoy active driving. It is in no way challenging for its driver, but with its comfortable nature suggests a rather calm, unemotional driving style. Of course, this is certainly not a disadvantage - especially since its chassis offers a high level of safety potential.

In the typical manner of front-wheel drive cars, it can be driven without any problems, whereby it announces when it is approaching the possible limit speed in curves by increasingly pushing over the front wheels.There are hardly any reactions to sudden gas release with high lateral acceleration - only when it is wet does the rear end noticeably push outwards, which can be easily corrected with the smooth-running and precisely working power steering. The fundamental disadvantages of front-wheel drive in conjunction with a powerful engine are only slightly pronounced here. A steering that is completely free of drive influences still seems better for maneuverability and an exact driving experience, but the occasional tugging in the steering wheel is more of a blemish, especially since the Maxima also performs well in tight spaces. Brings fast corners to the ground quite well.

The three-liter V6 has a lot of power

And there really is plenty of power, as the respectable acceleration values ​​and the top speed of just over 200 km/h show. Nevertheless, the six-cylinder engine, which was basically taken over from the 300 ZX sports car and sits transversely under the front hood of the Maxima, does not present itself as a power unit with a sporty character - its strength lies in its good pulling power even at low engine speeds.

It reacts smoothly to the gas just above idle speed and pulls away powerfully; if optimum acceleration isn't what matters, you automatically shift into the next higher gear at a maximum of 3000 rpm. The fact that the turning capacity of the V-engine is limited does not matter at all in practice.

Together with the low level of wind noise from the body, this results in a pleasantly low interior noise level even at high speeds. The plentiful torque, even in the lower engine speed range, is further supported by the gradation of the five-speed gearbox, which can be shifted with little effort. The fifth gear was not translated as particularly long here, but remained a real driving gear that can also be used frequently when driving leisurely on country roads and even in city traffic. The speed jumps when shifting are therefore not too large. Even if you stay well below the maximum speed when accelerating, convincing pulling power is available again in sixth gear. Of course, fuel consumption also benefits from this characteristic, which almost forces a low-speed driving style. The Maxima can get by with values ​​between eleven and twelve liters per 100 kilometers; in test operation, the average consumption was 12.9 liters per 100 kilometers. Although this is not a prime figure in the three-liter class, it is still acceptable in view of the good performance.

As far as the qualities of the car are concerned, the forecasts for the new Maxima are mostly positive. At least the connection to the good Europeans is made with him.Of course, its origin remains a handicap, at least on the German market - even if it was decided in the Maxima prospectus that car buyers' prestige concerns are a thing of the past.


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