I actually sold my 2nd maxima last year, but wanted to share my experience. First and foremost, there is so much to be said about the amazing 3.0 v6 standard in every maxima. Though 190 hp does not sound like much, this car will beat v8 muscle cars! That's right! I owned both in 5 speed configurations, and have mixed reviews on the manual tranny...quality seems somewhat subpar for nissan....clutch is weak and expensive to replace. Clutch hydraulics gave me problems in both my 97 and 99. Transmission is questionable, but luckily never gave out on me. I recommend the 98 model, as the 99's nearly all have coil pack issues that are aggrivating. Maxima is a heck of a good all around car.
P-O-W-E-R! Manual transmission option makes this a unique car. Love the array of optional equipment, these can be configured better than a BMW. Styling is cutting edge and clean for the age, great body quality, BOSE stereo, moon roof, REMOTE power windows (nissan exclusive!)
99's have faulty coil packs. Luckily they are easy to replace if you have the know-how (6 new ones installed could cost up to $1000!!!) Manual tranny quality is questionable. I had starter problems on my 97, and fuel pump problems on my 99. Would I buy another? You bet, just a newer one though.