We are seeing a new trend these days; manufacturers are showing us cars way ahead of their official launch dates or in some cases, launching the car and the first batch of stock arrives later. Either way, buyers have to wait months before getting their cars despite booking early. It’s as though these manufacturers are placing a stake on the automotive real estate and potential buyers can check out what’s to come and put their immediate purchase on hold if they like what they see. Manufacturers may carve a certain market share even before the car is even launched.
One of such examples is the Nissan Almera which was officially previewed at Pavilion KL from 10 – 12 August. In some markets the Almera is called Sunny, a name that those of us of a certain age is well familiar with. I wonder why Nissan has opted not to use Sunny here, probably wanting to target a younger audience with a new name, perhaps. The Almera competes in the same segment as the Latio sedan and Sentra; it would be interesting to see if Nissan decides to continue selling these 2 models.
I loved the clean, simple design flowing lines. The front grilles have a V like that focuses on the middle before the bumper flares out again, creating a X like image not unlike the facelifted XV40 Toyota Camry. The car is full of curves … the only sharp angles you’ll find are in the head and tail lamps
Measuring 4,426mm in length, 1,695mm in width and 1,500mm in height, the Almera is just slightly shorter than the Honda City (4,395mm in length), virtually the same width as a Vios (1,700mm) and is the tallest B segment. The biggest selling point of the Almera is space and by space, we refer to the fact that it has the longest wheelbase in this segment. Standing at 2,600mm, it has the wheelbase that rivals C segments and the closest B segment rival to the Almera is the VW Polo sedan which has a wheelbase of 2,552mm. *NOTE: Some markets such as Singapore lists the Almera’s wheelbase being 2,590mm. If that’s accurate, the Almera still remains as the segment leader.
At this angle, the headlamp resembles a flower petal, doesn’t it? The Almera is not officially launched and therefore there are no complete spec sheets but it does appear that on all variants, halogen is standard.
The rear appears to be using halogen as well
I generally have no issues with the design except for the rather smallish side mirrors. Even a foundation make-up mirror appears bigger since it’s placed so much closer to the face. As the car was locked, I had no way of sitting on the driver’s seat to verify if the size is adequate.
Please excuse the “hand finger of God” from my companion …. I didn’t even realise it was there until this developed. Responsible for the keeping the car planted to the ground are 185/65 R15 tires and alloy wheels.
Powering the Almera is Nissan’s HR15DE 1.5litre 4-cylinder in-line, DOHC with Variable Valve Timing Control (VTC), Drive by Wire Technolog, the engine produces 102PS @6,000rpm and 139Nm of torque @ 4,000rpm. It’s nothing to shout about … as a matter of fact, it’s just marginally better than the B segment’s worse power rating which is the Mazda 2 at 101.8bhp. Even if you do the conversion between bhp and PS, the Almera still comes in as the 2nd weakest power output and this also applies to the torque which is again 2nd worse (the Mazda 2 has 135Nm).
As the car is not launched, there is no test units to try the acceleration nor were there zero to hundred figures but I don’t expect it to go fast.
Ride and Handling
The Almera uses MacPherson struts for the front and torsion beam for the rear. Judgement is reserved until a proper test drive is done.
BIG B: Buyers who purchase the Almera get it for its size. The Almera has the longest wheelbase which also translates to the best in cabin space for the segment. Imagine this: it has the same wheelbase as the Toyota Altis!
It was rather unfortunate that the display unit at Pavilion had it doors locked and everyone had to snap pictures with the windows up but looking in, the rear legroom appears to be more than sufficient for a car this size. Nissan claims a legroom distance of 636mm …. I’ll get a measuring tape the next time when I do a more thorough review of this car.
Up in front, the dashboard design looks trendy and certainly does not feel like it’s low cost. The dash material looks to be hard plastics which is common for the segment but buyers get steering mounted audio controls and an automatic climate control air-conditioning.
I am guessing that this is the highest trim specification as you can see the Push Start button behind the left wiper stalk.
If we look at Nissan Singapore’s site, the steering is said to be power assisted, rack & pinion type
Yes, the Almera can be specified with keyless entry which, as I have mentioned numerous times is important in view of the increasing number of shopping mall robbery attacks. Rummaging through bags and taking your attention away from your surroundings is no longer necessary.
The Almera also features a Toyota-Optitron like self illuminating meter called Fine Vision Meter. A very nice welcome feature.
As the car was locked while on preview in Pavilion, we couldn’t get in to see what’s offered in this area but from the small little leaflet that they hand out at the display area, we could see the Almera would have the following:-
- Brake Assist
- Crushable body zone
- Dual frontal airbags
Ownership and maintenance
The Almera is advertised to carry a 3 year or 100,000km warranty and Nisssan claims 14.9km per litre of fuel consumption (or 6.7litres per 100km) which, if true would give the Toyota Vios a good fight in claiming to be one of the most frugal in terms of fuel sipping on the road.
No info on maintenance schedule and costing yet.
As for the price, the estimated selling price ranges from RM70k to RM85k depending on trim levels. If we look at the highest spec (based on what little we know at this point) with all the bells and whistles and compare it against today’s B segment contenders, here’s how it looks:-
So, is it worth waiting for the Almera? I’d say yes if you’re the kind of buyer who believes in paying low prices for large spaces. Perfect for the young family who just got married and paying for their first home while expecting their first child. Nissans are known to be reliable with reasonable servicing costs and with the continuous increase in fuel prices, the frugal nature of the engine makes a good case for you to take Big B home. The convenience of KEYSY and automatic air conditioning are bonuses.
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