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Nissan Almera gets tease preview

The mature buyers are clearly the target of the conservative styling.

Based on the Micra platform, the Thai-built Almera is an important step in Nissan’s plan to fills the gaping chasms in their line-up.

Nissan’s current range leans heavily towards the larger and offroad products ranging from the vehicles from the compact Dualis and X-Trail SUVs, to the medium-sized Murano and Pathfinder and on to the large Patrol and the Navara range of utes.

“We need to get better at passenger car delivery,” Nissan spokesman Jeff Fisher says. “We’ve always been good at commercial and SUV vehicles, but for about a decade we haven’t been as good on passenger vehicles as we should be.”

The Almera sedan will fill the gap between the popular Micra and the aging Tiida, with the latter due to be replaced early next year with the return of the Pulsar nameplate it tried  -- and failed – to kill off.  It will be joined next year by the mid-sized Altima, which will carry Nissan’s badge into V8 Supercar racing.

Fisher says the restocked passenger car shelves promise bright sales prospects. “We see the Almera as bridging the territory between the Micra and Tiida, and appealing largely to mature buyers and families – especially because of the interior size,” he says. “While it’s built on the same platform as the Micra it has a much larger body – it’s a Micra on steroids.”

He acknowledges the Tiida is lagging in sales, with just over 3500 last year meaning a drop of 35 per cent, but says the Pulsar will change that. “The Tiida has been around for six years, but we are expecting quite improved performance from Pulsar – we have big plans for it,” he says. “And later next year the Altima will plug the mid-sized segment gap.”

Fisher says having better coverage should improve Nissan’s overall position on the Australian sales ladder. “When we have the full line of product coverage, we’ve said we want to look at gaining import leadership and we figure with some of the product coming we’ll be able to get there,” he says. Nissan’s sales chief Ian Moreillon told Carsguide earlier this year  “our stated goal is to be Australia’s number one full-line importer by March 2013 and we are still on target to achieve this".

“With the plans we have in place, we certainly have the potential to grow our sales significantly over the next 12 months,” Moreillon said at the time, adding that this year’s flood of new models would sweep Nissan past Mazda by this time next year. With the Almera aiming at families, you can expect Nissan to focus on the interior space as a call to buyer attention.

And the mature buyers are clearly the target of the conservative styling that will set the little sedan apart from youth-oriented rivals like the Toyota Yaris, Mazda2 and Suzuki Swift. “Design is a matter for an individual –  we think it’s a very distinctive,” Fisher says. Nissan has not yet confirmed engines and specification for the Almera, but the car in Thailand echoes the Micra ‘s entry-level 1.2-litre engine with a choice of either five-speed manual or CVT transmissions, while the Chinese market gets the Amera/Sunny with a 1.5-litre in higher spec.

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