Maximum power in new maxima

Friday, May 30, 2003

srobertson

"Mr. Sulu, give me full Maxima power!" Spock's words echoed in my ears as I jabbed the throttle. I knew that somewhere beneath the floor there was not a conventional throttle cable connected to the engine, but a drive-by-wire system connected to a computer. I knew that this machine was equipped with OBD II (On-Board Diagnostic System), and that if it detected an emissions-related incident our mission would be compromised.

Ah yes, the MISSION. Spock and I had been dispatched on this mission because the Bureau of Insecurity had decided that the competition was plotting to take over the empire. Our mission: eliminate the competition. We had memorized the enemy's names and profiles: There was the highly regarded Volkswagen Passat from Germany; the feared Acura 3.2TL; the Toyota Avalon; the Audi A4 and the Chrysler 300M. All were armed with killer styling and outrageous handling. All had excellent reputations. But all lacked one thing our machine had plenty of -- Maxima power. The Bureau was betting that this new Tennessee-built machine would out run, out maneuver and out class everything the universe had to offer.

The variable-flow intake manifolds took a deep breath and I felt the machine surge as I jabbed the selector lever forward. I watched the rev counter arch toward the danger zone, but smiled with the knowledge that the master computer buried in the bowels of this fighting machine would protect the raging, reduced-weight pistons and the hollow camshafts from over-speed. Somewhere behind us the quad-tipped dual tailpipes connected to the low-restriction, equal-length exhaust manifolds were keeping the backpressure in check. The techno-nerds back at headquarters had bragged that the microfinished crankshaft and camshafts, with their ultra-smooth finishes, would enable all the rotating parts to spin with the least possible resistance, reducing heat and vibration for maximum power and durability. Today I would need all the durability those lab coats could pack into this baby.

Everything blurred outside our cabin, and each stab forward of the selector lever brought a new surge of Maxima power. Would the aluminum-alloy block, cylinder heads and oil pan withstand the stress? No other machine in this class had ever been asked to perform like this. Could I depend on the NDIS (Nissan Direct Ignition System), with its individual coils located directly over each spark plug? This machine lacked the conventional mechanical distributor, spark plug wires and single coil that I had grown up with. Headquarters told us not to worry about tune-ups or timing belt replacement. They told us that these machines could go for 105,000 miles on the original combustion ignitors, and the power generator used a chain instead a timing belt! Not only that, but each cylinder was equipped with four continuously variable valves, and all 50 governments of the empire had certified Maxima for operation within their atmosphere.

Maxima, we were told, is the flagship, the ultimate expression of the Nissan brand. This is the sixth generation Maxima, and in the entire universe no other machine in this price range has as much power, as much room and as many available features. Spock and I had hand picked this machine. We wanted advanced styling, but we didn't want to sacrifice comfort. The machine had to be fun to drive, but it had to have proven reliability. And, if it could kick butt when a BMW pulled up along side, so much the better! (Oops, how did that get in there?)

Again I jabbed the selector lever forward, and again I felt the shudder of Maxima power. Spock and I were thrust back into our leather, heated seats. Our dual climate controlled cabin could be equipped with four -- not two -- supremely comfortable reclining bucket seats. Our speed was exceeding three digits now, but the engine continued to pull confidently. There seemed to be no end to Maxima power. "I've got a boogey at 6 o'clock, coming up fast," Spock observed. "He's definitely in pursuit".

"Friend or foe", I demanded. "From the looks of the little twinkling lights on his roof, I'd say foe," Spock replied.

"License and registration, please," was the next thing I heard. "Do you know why I stopped you Mr. Robertson?"

"But officer, we're on a mission here. I'm testing this new vehicle from Crown Nissan-Cadillac, you see…" but my words were cut off.

"Yeah, I know who you are, and I've been wondering when they'd turn you loose with a Maxima," the cop sniped. "Man this thing is pretty sharp, what do they run, about $31,000? Now, if you and the guy with the pointy ears would please step out of the car…"

Steve Robertson of Robertson Photography in Cape Girardeau is a car enthusiast and was formerly a photographer for the Southeast Missourian.

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