The Nissan Almera was dropped approximately 7 years ago; and frankly it couldn’t have been a better decision. The lacklustre design, mundane interior and average vehicle dynamics left the Almera with nothing other than Nissan-reliability as a selling point. So it was pretty much left to older folks to drive them off showroom floors.
Since then, Nissan has gone off and redesigned themselves with ‘niche’ vehicles like the Qashqai, Juke and Micra. A job well done too, considering the numbers you’ll see on the roads.
Now Nissan has decided it’s time to reintroduce the Almera nameplate; so let’s see how this one fares.
On the outside
Nissan say the Almera is a very important car here in South Africa, set for the large, fast growing B-segment, and aimed at young families. Fortunately this segment doesn’t seem to place a lot of emphasis on appearance; since function and price play such a big role.
I say fortunately because the Nissan Almera isn’t particularly easy on the eye. It’s built in India and comes with a distinct Asian design philosophy that sees bulbous front and rear ends with oversized head and taillights, and small wheels that don’t quite fill the arches.
On the inside
It’s no surprise that Nissan focussed quite strongly on having a practical, functional interior. After all the Almera will be put through the most strenuous of tests – providing transport for young families with their destructive little kiddies.
So the interior is ergonomically laid out and is made from specially textured surfaces that are designed to reduce glare throughout the cabin. Both the plastic mouldings and the cloth seats only come in black, specifically to help hide dirt and grime.
Another important factor in the B-segment is space, which the Nissan Almera has in spades starting with class leading rear leg room that’s followed up by a cavernous boot, which is once again class leading for luggage capacity.
There’s only one spec level for the Almera; which includes air-conditioning, an MP3 and Auxiliary powered Radio/CD player, fuel consumption/range enabled twin trip computer and a couple airbags upfront.
Behind the wheel
Under the hood is a 1.5 litre four pot, mated to a five speed manual gearbox (although an auto is available), shared also by the outgoing Tiida and Livinia. There’s no fancy stuff here, just 73kW and 134 torques available to your right foot; so you’re required to stir around the gearbox to keep the revs working in your favour.
It is however exceptionally economical especially when driven carefully; achieving remarkable consumption figures in my extreme urban traffic test and a claimed 6.3 litres/100km in mixed conditions.
I must admit that my first impression of the Almera was not a good one. But over my week long test, the little Nissan slowly grew on me. The space on offer in the cabin and boot is quite remarkable; and its eager little engine provides joy whether driven hurriedly, or with economy in mind. All this for only R170,600 – that’s as cheap as chips.
Engine: 1498cc litre four cylinder petrol
Power: 73 kW
Torque: 135 Nm
Consumption (l/100km): 8.0 (claimed)
Service: 3yr/60 000km service plan
First published in Autodealer KZN