Nissan gets ready to go racing in Oz with this 650-horsepower V8-powered Altima. Ford and Holden had better watch out.
An Altima - with a V8? We've got to be kidding, right? Only we're not. Because while the ordinary Nissan Altima was only available with a four-cylinder engine until 2001 (when the third-generation model stepped up with an available V6), this one is no ordinary Altima. It's what the Australians call a V8 Supercar, and unlike the images of Ferraris and McLarens the term might conjure up in other parts of the world, Down Under it refers to a racing series.
A touring car series similar to Germany's DTM, the UK's BTCC or Japan's Super GT, V8 Supercars is a series that has been contested for years exclusively by Ford and GM's Aussie division Holden. But no more, as both Nissan and Mercedes are joining the fray. Unveiled today at a special event in Melbourne, the Altima racer packs the same VK engine found in various Nissan trucks and Infiniti crossovers, but prepped (like the versions in the Super GT and GT1-spec GT-R and a handful of LMP2 racers) by Nismo, in this case to the tune of 5.0-liters, a 7000-rpm redline and approximately 650 horsepower, all in accordance with series regulations.
The chassis is the same Car of the Future platform that underpins the Falcon and Commodore and the upcoming E63 AMG, but draped in bodywork that apes the latest Altima sedan - albeit with a competition aero package that will keep it glued to tracks across Australia and New Zealand, plus the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and, for the first time, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. We'll be eager to see how V8 Supercars will be received in America, but one thing's for sure: with Nissan and Mercedes joining the fight against Ford and Holden, next season promises to be the best Australian racing fans have seen in a long, long time.