What a difference a generation makes. In the case of the Nissan Almera, the first-generation sedan had many things going for it: an efficient powertrain, a spacious cabin — thanks to its long wheelbase, and decent road manners. What it didn’t have much of was a personality. Now, that’s changed for the all-new Almera. Nissan’s designers and engineers have sharpened their pencils, or more likely, fired up their computers, to come up with a sedan that’s not only practical but actually attractive and desirable.
The Almera sedan morphs into a sportier exterior in line with the rest of the Nissan lineup. The brand’s V-shaped grille that leads up to the hood, angular headlamps with integrated LED daytime running lights, sweeping roofline, and arrow-shaped taillights: all make an appearance here. The Almera looks more confident, dynamic, and even a little playful. Its beady eyes and the large maw of its grille remind us of a grinning shark. The Almera N-Sport variant that we tested adds special front and rear bumpers with lower aero lip, silver-hued door mirrors, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
When we entered, we immediately noticed the flat-bottom steering wheel with audio controls, touchscreen center panel, and metallic trim to complement the soft-touch materials. The gauge cluster is a practical combination of analog speedometer and digital display that can be switched to show various information. These include: a digital tachometer, fuel efficiency information, vehicle status, and audio information. The 8-inch center display includes Apple CarPlay connectivity, and also acts as the monitor for the 360-degree surround view cameras.
The Nissan Intelligent Mobility active safety features include Intelligent Around View Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning and Hill Start Assist.
The Almera gets a new heart—all variants are powered by a 1.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. It generates power and torque similar to that of a conventional 1.5-liter engine, with the benefit of greater fuel efficiency. Power is 100ps and torque at 152Nm (160Nm for the manual variants), and it’s channeled through a five-speed manual or a CVT. The N-Sport is exclusively available with the CVT. The engine automatically shuts down when the car is at a standstill. The system is cleverly linked to how heavy you press the brake—a healthy push is needed to prompt the engine to shut down. The auto start/stop can be turned off via a dashboard button.
The engine responds quickly to prods on the throttle. The buildup of power and torque is smooth, and we couldn’t detect any turbo lag. There wasn’t any occasion on our week-long drive that we were sorely wishing for more power. The CVT is a good pairing for the engine, helping to keep it within its powerband.
Customers gravitate towards SUVs because of space, but thanks to sedans like the Almera, we can see low-slung cars like these can still pack a decent volume. The Almera still has the longest wheelbase among its main Japanese competitors. This benefits the interior space, particularly the rear kneeroom. Rear-seat space is nearly comparable to that of a sedan one class higher. The trunk hasn’t been compromised either. It’s deep and wide, and can swallow 474 liters of luggage and cargo. The 60:40 rear seats can be folded in sections for longer objects.
The Nissan Almera is one agreeable companion. It’s friendly to drive, with light steering that still feels properly weighted when you hit triple-digit speeds. The car feels stable and planted when zipping along on the highway. In town, it’s easy to squeeze into tight spaces, particularly when we activated the Intelligent Around View Monitor which provides 360-degree bird’s eye-view.” Nissan has shown that there’s still a big need that compact sedans can fill, especially when they are as well engineered as the Almera Turbo.