Forged 18-inch wheels. Three-gauge center instrument cluster. Aggressive front fascia. Rear spoiler. Painted brake calipers. High-flow mufflers. Large diameter chrome dual exhaust finishers. Black leather-appointed sport seats. The Nissan Altima SE-R doesn’t look like any previous Altima because clearly it’s not. When Nissan launched the redesigned 2005 Altima in February 2004, it held one surprising element back – the new Altima SE-R, which joined the previous five 2005 Altima models in late September.
“The letters SE-R have come to represent fast, affordable and fun to Nissan performance enthusiasts,” said Mark McNabb, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “Until now, our SE-R editions have been limited to the Sentra line. With the new Altima, the SE-R not only grows up, it reaches a wider audience.”
The Altima SE-R is the sixth model in the 2005 Altima lineup (others include 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 SL, 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL), yet in reality it stands alone with a special list of features and equipment designed for the sports enthusiast.
“The Altima SE-R is targeted at the performance buyer who wants it all – but wants it for under $30,000,” said McNabb. “The Altima SE-R is all about providing a great driving experience for enthusiasts without money to burn.”
The SE-R model builds on the substantial refinements introduced for the 2005 model year, including styling enhancements and greatly revamped interior.
Serious, Sporty and Functional Inside and Out
For 2005, every Altima model features restyled headlamps and taillights, a restyled smooth front end with a distinctive raised hood and new Nissan family grille – which gives Altima a bolder, more athletic, look than the 2004 design.
The Altima SE-R adds an array of special styling features, including a new front fascia, headlight bezel coloring, compact fog lights and dark window molding coloring. In the rear, the SE-R stands out with a new rear fascia and spoiler, smoked taillights and large dual exhaust finishers. Also visible are the new side sill spoilers, silver painted front and rear disc brake calipers, with the SE-R logo on the front calipers. SE-R badging is located on the rear of the vehicle.
The Altima interior incorporates all of the upgrades for the 2005 model, including a new instrument panel design with fine vision meter illumination, center console, trim finishes, 3-spoke steering wheel, seat material, headliner and added chrome accents and chrome door handles.
The most prominent difference between the SE-R and other 2005 Altima models is the three-pod center-mounted gauge package, similar to that found on the legendary Nissan Z®, with volt meter, oil pressure and fuel consumption gauges.
Other changes include sport-shaped front seats and headrests with perforated red or gray leather-appointed inserts and matching stitching on the seats, steering wheel and shift knob, dark chrome trim treatment and drilled aluminum pedals. The front seats are also heated, as are the SE-R’s outside mirrors. Altima SE-Rs equipped with the standard short throw linkage 6-speed manual transmission also feature a new gearshift knob.
Additional features shared with all Altimas include a power port inside the center console storage area for a mobile phone, large cup holders and power windows and locks (windows can be opened remotely via key fob for cabin venting).
The SE-R also comes standard with a Bose® premium audio system with 8 speakers and AM/FM/in-dash 6-disc CD changer with RDS, speed-sensitive volume control and steering wheel audio controls.
From a safety standpoint, the Altima SE-R comes with standard Zone Body Construction, dual-stage supplemental air bags that sense seatbelt use and collision severity and deploy accordingly, available front-seat side-impact supplemental air bags and roof-mounted side-impact curtain air bags for front- and rear-seat occupant head protection. Other standard safety features include front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchors and tether system.
Performance Worthy of the SE-R Heritage
At the core of the SE-R philosophy since the beginning is performance. The Altima SE-R’s standard 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine offers 260 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque - a higher level of tuning than the Altima 3.5 SL or 3.5 SE’s 250 horsepower and 249 lb-ft torque. The SE-R also offers a performance exhaust system with large outlet pipes.
The 3.5-liter V6 is part of the VQ engine series, which has been recognized as one of the “Ten Best Engines” by Ward’s Auto World magazine for 11 consecutive years and features continuously variable valve timing, modular engine design, microfinished crank journals and cam lobes, molybdenum coated lightweight pistons and electronically controlled throttles.
The SE-R model is offered with a choice of standard 6-speed manual or optional 5-speed electronically controlled automatic with manual shift mode. Both automatic and manual transmission-equipped SE-Rs offer a traction control system, which uses a combination of throttle and fuel cutoff (along with shift schedule on A/T models) to help aid traction in off-the-line starts and slippery situations.
The 2005 Altima SE-R also features performance-tuned front struts and rear shocks, stiffer front and rear springs and thicker front and rear stabilizer bars to the Altima’s advanced suspension. The front suspension design utilizes a cradle-type frame with an offset coil spring and lower transverse link layout provides better handling and riding performance and an extensive use of aluminum parts. The rear multi-link independent suspension, based on that used in the Japanese-market Nissan Skyline, separates the rear shocks and springs for reduced friction and the shocks are in line with the centers of the rear wheels, providing better damping and less harshness.
The SE-R comes with sticky 225/45R18 Y-speed rated summer tires mounted on unique 18-inch forged alloy wheels.
Braking is provided by large (12.60 x 1.10t front, 11.5 x 0.35t rear) 4-wheel disc brakes with standard 4-wheel, 4-channel, 4-sensor Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA).
Colors and Options
The 2005 Nissan Altima SE-R is available in four exterior colors – Super Black, Sheer Silver, Smoke and an SE-R only Code Red. The interior is offered with Charcoal leather-appointed seats with choice of red or gray inserts. The only options are the 5-speed automatic transmission, side air bags and Traction Control System.
“The Altima SE-R hits a critical position between the tuner-style Sentra SE-R and the sporty Maxima SE, which offers more refinement,” said McNabb. “The Altima SE-R is more aggressive, yet it has all the core attributes and affordability of an Altima. It’s the sports sedan for enthusiasts who’ve grown up – but not too much.”