Almera: it sounds like a South American novelist, or an athlete’s foot cream. In fact it’s the sedan version of the Nissan Micra hatchback.
Almera ST manual opens the pricing at a manufacturer’s recommended retail of $16,990, the auto adds $2000, while the Ti, in automatic only, tops off the range at $20,990.
There was a sparse selection of instruments, including an analogue speedometer and tacho, giving out minimum information but the ante was upped by the addition of keyless entry, steering wheel audio controls and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. There’s a four-speaker sound system with MP3 player aux input.
Nissan Almera Ti adds more appeal – with rear park assist, climate control air conditioning, intelligent keyless entry and push button engine start. The Ti also has a multi-function computer with a display of fuel consumption, distance to empty, and a service reminder.
Almera rides on 15-inch steel wheels with covers. The Ti, however, does take on 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights and a rear spoiler. Both carry a full-size steel spare.
On the outside, the Almera ST has the ability to fade into the background among more sporty looking rivals. The sedan’s only attempt at being different is Nissan’s next generation signature grille and large multi-reflector halogen headlamps.
Inside, there’s enough space to seat five adults in relative comfort, with more rear legroom and boot space than many mid-size sedans, while leaving most of its close rivals sadly wanting. Our test vehicle, a manual ST, was awash with hard plastic surfaces in the passenger cabin to keep the price down, but the seats were covered with modern design, good quality material.
Based on Nissan’s latest ‘V’ platform, also used for the Micra hatch, rear seat legroom (940 mm) is 94 mm greater than Hyundai Accent, 59 mm greater than Holden Barina and 36 mm greater than Toyota Yaris. Headroom in front of the Almera is similarly generous.
The outstanding volume of this small / large Nissan sedan extends to the boot with 490 litres, 25 litres more than the Accent and 15 litres more than the Yaris.
The new Nissan is offered in two specification levels – Almera ST and Almera Ti – the former with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, the latter in auto only. Up front there’s a 1.5 litre four-cylinder engine producing 75 kW of power at 6000 rpm and 139 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm, driving through the front wheels.
Expect the manual to go through 6.3 litres of 91 octane petrol per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle, the automatic 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres. The two models put out 149 grams per kilometre and 159 g / km of carbon dioxide respectively.
Safety features keep up with those of other vehicles in the class, with vehicle stability control, ABS anti-skid brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. There are six airbags across the model range, including dual front, side and curtain airbags.
Despite having a stubby gearstick, the action was far from short throw and precise. There was a vagueness to shifts that kept the driver focused. The engine revs needed to be kept in the higher range too to get the best out of Almera’s performance, but this is aimed at fuel economy not hard driving.
In a crowded, competitive Australian light-car market, the Almera has its work cut out. Leading the ‘space race’ will certainly give it a leg up in the small family-car stakes and it should be a big seller amongst those downsizing on price.
Price: from $16,990
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km roadside assist
Engine: 1.5 litre 4-cylinder, 75kW/139Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.3L-6.7L/100km, CO2 149 g/km-159 g/km (ST,Ti)