For decades now, the BMW 3 Series has served as a benchmark for handling in the sedan segment. Car and Driver have bestowed an amazing 21 consecutive 10Best awards on the Bavarian wünder car. That started to go away, however, as BMW saw its 3 Series get larger and heavier while the steering has become a bit more disconnected. Now comes a fresh new stab in the heart of a vehicle that used to set the bar. In testing the 2019 Nissan Altima, C/D have recorded a higher cornering figure compared to the latest BMW 330xi.
Now, max-g cornering figures don’t directly translate to handling prowess. It is a good indicator, however, of just how capable a car might be. For many years, the legendary figure was 1-g. This was the domain of supercars and exotic stallions. Today, the 2019 Altima is capable of recording 0.93-6, which puts it in fighting distance of much more dynamic vehicles. By comparison, the BMW 330xi only managed 0.89-g.
You gotta have tiiiiires, man…
A lot of this is owed to the tires on each car. BMW love to make use of run-flat tires. These are great for when you actually get a flat tire, but terribly in pretty much all other situations. The ride isn’t improved and performance takes a hit compared to other non run-flat tires. In this instance, the BMW 330xi tested by C/D wore Bridgestone Turanza T005. Those are contrasted by the all-season Hankook Kinergy GT tires on the Altima. All-season tires are typically nothing special, minus a few exceptions. So this should show you just how miserable those run-flat tires on the BMW really are.
Still, this isn’t just a tire issue. Nissan chassis engineers deserve a lot of credit for making great changes on this new Altima. Don’t expect it to out-perform a BMW wearing better tires (such as the optional Michelin Pilot 4S). This is, after all, still a BMW 3 Series we’re talking about here. Give it the right shoes and it will dance for you.
Regardless, Nissan should consider this a good win. And imagine if they stuck even better tires on there too? A 2019 Altima in summer performance tires might just tip toe even closer a 1-g showing in the figure-eight testing. That would be amazing.