Base Price: $27,270

Price as Tested: $33,425

This week, we're behind the wheel of Nissan's 2010 performance-bred Altima Coupe 3.5 SR, a classic in Nissan's lineup that underwent a complete design revamp in 2007. Now in its fourth generation, Altima's 3.5 SR calls out for the younger set to take a look, and then delivers with sportscar-like handling and a 24-valve V6 that is powerful and fuel efficient.

With 270-horsepower and a 250 lb. ft. torque rating, Altima 3.5 performs better than some V8 models we've tested, and then delivers a stout 20 city and 27 highway EPA numbers. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) helps transfer the power, and then mates with the asphalt thanks to 18-inch all season tires and beautiful lightweight alloy wheels. For those who like to shift, a 6-speed manual is also available, but not in the sedan format.

As for performance, when you consider that back in the late 1960s, an average muscle car ran the quarter mile in 14 seconds at near 100-mph, Altima V6 SR 3.5 will run the quarter mile in 14-seconds at near 100-mph, too, and then deliver great gas mileage to boot. Add impressive stopping power and a fine tuned suspension, and you've got a car that is very impressive regardless of how you match it up. The 0-60 time is about 6.7 seconds.

Underneath, Altima SR is all business, featuring a fully independent four-wheel suspension with a multi-link rear design and front and rear stabilizer bars. Standard 4-wheel ABS disc brakes work in tandem with traction control, dynamic control and a stability system to assure drivers this sporty Altima will stay planted and pointed in the right direction if driven properly.

Altima's 17-year evolution results in a 2-door coupe that is a demographic match for college students, younger business people or the older folk who love spirited driving and are past the days of transporting a family.

Altima's exterior blueprint is one of SR's highlights, as continual tweaking makes this Altima one of the better looking cars on the road. After undergoing a complete redesign in 2007, Altima for 2010 is again fine-tuned with design touches that blend slipstream aerodynamics with no abrupt curves of bulges. The end result is a winning combination.

SR's interior is one of the best in class, with shades of sibling Infiniti quality everywhere. Gauges are brilliant and easy to read, fit and finish are impeccable and the seat comfort is very good. To my liking, don't expect a soft ride, as 3.5's sporty heritage results in a firm handler, not a marshmallow bump eliminator. Granted, accessing the rear seat is cumbersome for many, but once in the back seat, there's more room than one expects as long as you're not a 6-footer plus, where legroom becomes a bit tight. A major drawback of the coupe is cargo space, where an extremely small trunk (only 8.2 cubic feet) limits your cargo options. Thank goodness for the 60/40 split rear seat, which helps a bit. If you buy a sedan, the trunk expands to over 15 cubic feet.

The 3.5 SR Premium package costs $1,470 more, and includes XM Satellite, Bose 9-speaker audio system, USB port iPod, rear camera display, Bluetooth, and dual zone air and climate control. A Technology package added another $1,780 to the price, featuring Navigation with 6.5 inch display, 9.3 gig music hard drive, Bluetooth streaming audio, and a DVD Player. A leather package cost $2,060, and includes leather seats, gearshift, heated seats, high intensity headlamps, auto dim rear view mirror, and Homelink transmitter. Floor mats for $175 and destination for $720 brought the final tally to $33,425.

Standard items include 8-way driver power seat, all the powers, tilt and telescopic, cruise, push button start, power sunroof, fog lamps, dual chrome exhaust, and much more. Your Nissan dealer will gladly explain all standard and option details.

Altima's safety offerings are top class, as 4-Star government ratings in frontal and 5-star in side crash testing come thanks to advanced driver and passenger airbags with dual stage deployment, seat mounted front side airbags and front and rear side head curtain airbags.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.3 inches, 20 gallon fuel tank, and a 3,333 pound curb weight.

Nissan's Altima SR 3.5 Coupe will battle the Honda Accord Coupe for superiority in this 2-door class, and it's up to the task.

Likes: Performance, fuel economy, design, handling, build quality.

Dislikes: Very small trunk, rear seat legroom.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.)