Nissan hails from the Datsun/Nissan Bluebird – Nissan’s longest-running nameplate and a world-recognized model. The Bluebird, later on, spawned many of Nissan's models of various sizes and types, the Maxima being one of them.
Australia received the Bluebird (410, 411, and 510 series) from as early as 1963 till 1972, followed by the export-version Datsun 180B (Bluebird 610 series) from 1972 to 1977 and Datsun 200B (Bluebird 810 series) from 1977 to 1981. The Bluebirds under the Datsun make were built as sedans, coupes, estates, and even light vans (410/411).
Aside from the earlier Datsun series, Australia also received the Nissan Bluebird (series 910 up to U14) from 1981 to 1997. The body styles of these latter series, now under the Nissan marque in Australia, included not only sedans, estates and coupes, but also hatchbacks in the U12 series (aka the Bluebird Aussies).
Going back to 1977 in North America, the same time that Australia had the Datsun 200B, they marketed the Bluebird 810 series as the first-generation Datsun 810. Its second-generation (Datsun 810 from 1980-1984), which North America called G910 (aka Bluebird 910 in Japan), would then become the first-generation Nissan Maxima.
Thus was how the history of the Maxima marque started. Nissan based the Maxima design on the much similar Skyline models in the 1980s but was differentiated to have their distinct styles. It has set the benchmark performance-wise for its class. It has morphed from the original compact sedan and estate with a 2.4-litre L24 inline-6 engine to the current mid-size sporty saloon with a 3.5-litre VQ35DE V6.
With such high specs, the Maxima has been able to hold its own against its mid-tier counterparts like the Holden Astra, the Honda City and Civic, and the Hyundai Accent.
First Generation; G910 (1980-1984)
The first generation Maxima came to production as the Datsun Maxima also called the Datsun 810 and later on the Nissan Maxima. Regardless of its many iterative names, the first-generation Maxima model was exclusively available in Japan and the USA. It was a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive compact car fitted with either 2.4-liter L24E inline-6 or 2.8-liter LD28 inline-6 engine. The sedans had independent rear suspensions, while the wagon/estates came with leaf-sprung live rear axles.
Second Generation; PU11 (1985-1988)
The new-generation Maxima came out in 1984. Nissan ditched the rear-wheel drivetrain and opted for a front-wheel-drive layout. The Maxima was available in a V6 for the first time. A 3.0-litre VG30E V6 engine provided power, which it sent to the drive wheels through either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox. The Maxima got a revised design in 1987 with new shoulder belts and luxury options available in their base Gl, GXE and SE trims
Third Generation; J30 (1989-1994)
This is the generation that saw the launch of the Maxima in Australia. After its given success in the USA and Japan, Nissan decided to push out the Maxima to the rest of the world. The third generation of Maxima came as a four-door sedan with a front-engine front-wheel drivetrain powered by a 3.0-litre VG30E/VE30DE V6 engine with either 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox.
Australia got the J30 to come in place of the locally-made Nissan Skyline. It was a 3.0-litre VG30E V6 4-speed manual sedan that made 122kW of power. The Maxima came in two trims, the M and the Ti.
- M - came with air conditioning, alloy wheels, central locking system, cruise control, power steering, and power windows
- Ti - sported a rear spoiler, climate control air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, electric seats, and a pin-touch padlock system
A later 1991 M trim of the Maxima featured extra amenities like a CD player and sunroof with the Ti getting a sunroof pack. A 1993 release provided for a new grille insert, redesigned taillights and a driver’s airbag. The same year saw the Maxima feature an executive trim that replaced the M trim. All three trims of the Maxima were powered by the VG30E engine coupled with automatic transmission.
The J30, however, did not last after Nissan swapped its production with the launch of a newly-designed Nissan Cefira model.
Fourth Generation A32 (1994-1999)
The Nissan Maxima’s fourth generation, now based on the Nissan Cefiro, launched in February 1994. The Cefiro came with one engine option, the VQ20DE V6 engine. However, it got a performance upgrade later on with the inclusion of a VG30DE V6 engine that pushed out 141kW of power and 278Nm of torque. A torsion bar solid-axle suspension was fitted in place of the independent rear suspension. It had two trims – the Executive and the Ti – both of which utilised the same engine, the 3.0-litre VQ20DE V6 ULP engine with four-speed automatic transmission that put out 122kW and 246Nm.
In 1996, the Maxima got a facelift with new 5-spoke alloy wheels and an updated interior, which welcomed a new steering wheel and included a CD player. It had three trims, the 30G, the 30GV, the 30J, and the 30S Touring.
- 30G – 3.0-litre VG30DE V6 petrol engine with either 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox that put out 142kW and 278Nm
- 30GV- 3.0-litre VG30DE V6 petrol engine with 4-speed automatic transmission that produced 142kW and 278Nm
- 30J - 3.0-litre VG30DE V6 petrol engine with either 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox that made 142kW of power and 278Nm of torque
- 30S - 3.0-litre VG30DE V6 petrol engine with 4-speed automatic transmission that produced 142kW and 278Nm
The 1995 Cefira that had a 3.0-litre VQ30DE engine made 142kW and 278Nm of torque.
Fifth Generation; A33B (2000-2003)
In the year 2000, Nissan marked the turn of the century with the launch of the fifth-generation Maxima. Despite its new release, this new generation did not come to feature in Australia, where Nissan maintained the previous fourth-generation version. The Australian Maxima came to feature performance changes later on including a newer drivetrain while still sporting the existing fourth-generation body trim.
Sixth Generation; J31 (2004- 2008)
In the USA, Canada, and Mexico, the Maxima proceeded with the sixth generation (codenamed A34). Nissan Australasia, however, applied the Maxima nameplate to a different model – Nissan Teana’s first generation (J31).
So 2004 saw the launch of Nissan Teana J31, rebadged as Maxima featuring an expanded 3.5L VQ35DE hooked up to a 4-speed Jatco automatic transmission to drive up to 170 kW of power and 333 Nm of torque. This powertrain consumed 11.2L/100km. Three grade levels were offered starting with the base ST-L, which featured dual front airbags, ABS, cruise control, EBD, engine immobiliser, vehicle stability control, leather steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels. The mid-range model, Ti, added leather upholstery and power sunroof, while the range-topping Ti-L added rear parking distance control and DVD player.
Seventh Generation; J32 (2008-2013)
The rebadged Teana continued for another generation in Australia as the seventh-generation Maxima (J32). Elsewhere, the seventh-generation Maxima (A35) reached its markets utilising the same Nissan D-platform and revised 3.5L V6 engine that Teana/Maxima used for its Australian customers. For this generation, Nissan has added a smaller 2.5L V6 and used a Jatco JF010E CVT to distribute power for both engines. Their specs are as follows:
- 3.5-liter VQ30DE V6 petrol engine – 185 kW, 326 Nm, 10.2L/100km; powered the 350 ST-S and 350 Ti trims
- 2.5 L VQ25DE V6 petrol engine – 134 kW, 228 Nm, 9.5L/100km; powered the 250 ST-L base model
These Teana/Maxima trim packages, which include alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, and leather upholstery, are unique to Australia and New Zealand. Aside from the upgraded engines, this generation also adds head airbags and traction control system as standard to the base model.
The Nissan Maxima is still around to this day in other markets, but its tenure in Australia has ended with the discontinuation of the Teana, or in some markets continued as a rebadged fifth-generation Nissan Altima.
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