I have once again been lucky enough to have been lent by Nissan their latest model the Almera, ‘Nissan’s Best-Selling Global Sedan’. A quick check online reveals as much, being a popular model in Asia and Europe except of course here. Last week I took it around my normal trips plus a weekend Tagaytay vacay. Here’s what I thought:
It Is Big
The first thing that strikes you is how hefty it is inside and out, clearly a step up from your standard small family sedan but still a notch below the luxury level. And when I say big I mean five – people – and – their – luggage – will – fit – comfortably Big. I’ve long recognized Nissan to have make their mark in the local sedan market by providing lots of passenger space. Back in my taxi riding days I would usually prefer Sentras because of that exact reason and this tradition continues here.
You can cross your legs any which way at the rear seats and it would be ok, and headroom is enough for anyone 6’5″ or even more. Space by itself is a big reason to prefer an Almera and I am all for it.
The middle area behind the handbrake where you usually find a container has been converted to an aircon tower, cooling the rear passengers. A neat idea although some storage space is sacrificed. This is not a deal breaker but important to know if you like storing a lot of stuff there. Nissan makes up for it a bit by providing cup holders on the rear foldable armrest. Rear A/C also has its own control switch at the rear (reachable by the driver thank goodness), so just like in vans with similar setups you will probably forget to turn it off and you will sometimes be surprised to hear it working when you start the car.
If you put your foot on it the 1.5L can surprisingly red line at 6,500rpm very quickly. It’s very revvy and that’s always a good thing for a big car with an AT, albeit you get the feeling the reason why it revs so much is because it’s working extra hard because its so big.
The important thing is it doesn’t FEEL big. Rather, as you sit high enjoying the light steering and modulating the speed with your foot you are very comfortable at speed and never feeling like it lacks for anything. The ride is comfortable and is far from sporty, but isn’t wallowy or pillowy in any case.
Climbing up Tagaytay the wheelbase typical of B segment cars and hefty 185/65s 15s will swallow the bumps and there is no noticeable roll when quickly changing lanes such as when overtaking. Cornering is just ok and neither precise nor again too soft – important when you’re trying to see how well a car performs. The fact my 8 month preggy wife had no issues as I tested it is good enough reason for me to praise it. The correct and only way to describe the ride really, is ‘just right’.
SRP is as follows:
- Nissan Almera Base MT 710,000.00
- Nissan Almera Base AT 760,000.00
- Nissan Almera Mid AT 830,000.00
And here’s a selection of prices from other marques I collected based on what I would imagine someone would compare the Almera against, current as of this writing:
- Toyota COROLLA ALTIS 1.6 E MT 814,000.00
- Toyota COROLLA ALTIS 1.6 G AT 904,000.00
- Toyota COROLLA ALTIS 1.6 G MT 868,000.00
- Hyundai Elantra CVVT 1.6 GL AT 888,000.00
- Hyundai Elantra CVVT 1.6 GL MT 818,000.00
- Hyundai Elantra CVVT 1.8 GLS AT 958,000.00
- Hyundai Accent GLS 1.6 CVVT AT 828,000.00
- Mitsubishi Lancer EX GLX 1.6 MT 825,000
- Mitsubishi Lancer EX GLX 1.6 AT 855,000
- Mitsubishi Lancer EX MX 1.6 AT 930,000
- Honda Civic 1.8 S MT 908,000.00
- Honda Civic 1.8 S AT 948,000.00
- Honda Civic 1.8 E AT 1,008,000.00
With the mid level model at P830k and the only brand offering anything at the P700k range, the Almera is priced to sell. While it does have the smaller engine at 1.5L that shouldn’t be too much of an issue and besides, most of these other brands round off their 1.5l engines to read as 1.6. And finally like I said it doesn’t feel like a 1.5l anyway.
And of course it is a Nissan, one of the few venerated Japanese brands left that’s respected for its roadworthiness, reliability and high value in the pre – owned market. A plus for guys like me who have had their share of owning and maintaining a variety of lemons and gems over the years. Looks and performance come and go, but what you want is something you can rely on and get as much value as you can over time, and a Nissan brand carries that guarantee.
There are fairly few amenities other than standard, such as chrome fittings and other such things that are hardly worth mentioning really. The 90’s era radio is particularly surprising. I didn’t know they still make CD players when I’ve seen public transportation with audio systems that play USB sticks and allow iPods.
Also the Sentra 200 I test drove two years ago was so much more better appointed, with such niceties as a trip calculator, outside temperature gauge, etc.
However once I realized I was driving a ‘Mid’ model and not a top of the line model that is usually the type lent to reviewers, and seeing how reasonably priced it is, I started to see more value in this car. While I did not initially agree with its looks, that changes when you realize how much value it provides. As a comfortable, roomy, super easy to drive 1.5L I enjoyed my test drive and now fully comprehend the value of owning one.
Nissan has a lot of catching up to do in this category of the local sedan market. If they can make a good first impression, and they will need to due to its odd styling, there’s no reason why the Almera can’t develop a good following and reaffirm their position as a Japanese auto brand that offers great value in the long run.