There are quite a number of automotive awards handed out annually in the country; many with interesting criteria or categorisation, but one that’s lacking is probably for “Most Improved New Model.” It’s pretty self-explanatory; an all-new model that’s vastly improved over its predecessor.
While our thoughts aren’t worth much, we’ll hand out an imaginary one to the all-new Nissan Almera that’s gone from the most forgettable in its segment to roughing it up with the big boys by making tech like autonomous emergency braking standard across the entire range. Yes, even the entry-level trim will have it.
Based on the European Nissan Micra, the N18-generation Almera will be powered by a 1.0-litre turbo-three engine, making it only the second player in its segment to pack a snail after the Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI. However, seeing that the entire range is turbocharged, the Almera will officially be christened the Almera Turbo on our shores.
It’ll be assembled here and be available in three trim options. The starting point is a VL trim followed by a mid-spec VLP and tops out with a flagship VLT. All will be powered by a HR10DET 1.0-litre inline-three that makes 99hp and 152Nm of torque. Nissan were enthusiastic about pointing out that peak torque is available within a very usable 2,400-4,000rpm range. Sending power to the front wheels will be Nissan’s familiar Xtronic CVT with D-Step Logic and a Sport mode.
Aesthetics is a very subjective take but most will agree the previous Almera didn’t have the most flattering curves or proportions. That’s been rectified by making this new one longer, wider and lower. Suffice to say, the Almera doesn’t resemble an undertyred beluga whale on wheels.
Coming from its spartan predecessor that made do with just a pair of airbags and pretty much nothing, it wouldn’t have taken much to make the new one look like an improvement but fortunately, Nissan went all out.
Standard kit comprises keyless entry, push-start button, power folding side-view mirrors, audio-control buttons on the steering wheel, tilt/telescopic steering wheel adjustment and 60:40 split foldable rear seats. That last one isn’t a global feature on the Almera but was instead commissioned and fully funded by Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) locally. So, our Almera is the only one to have it.
Now starting at the Almera VL, the kit count comes in at 15-inch wheels, a fabric finish for the Zero Gravity seats, manual air-conditioning, USB/Bluetooth connectivity and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Step up to the Almera VLP and you’ll find larger 16-inch wheels, leather on the seats and steering wheel, auto air-conditioning, a Nissan Connect Infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen that adds Apple CarPlay connectivity into the mix and displays the rear-camera. There’s also six speakers over the VL’s four. Additionally, the dash itself is a dual-tone design with a soft-touch ivory-coloured centre section stretched across. Lastly, the instrument cluster is now partially a full—colour digital display while the speedo is still an analogue unit.
Go full baller with the Almera VLT and the extra kit includes LED headlights, DRLs and fog lights up front, a gloss black trunk lip spoiler (a local addition by ETCM), cruise-control, Intelligent Around View Monitor (360-degree bird’s eye view) with Moving Object Detection, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
The previous Almera received a lot of flak for its lack of safety features and it was rightly deserving as even the flagship trim only got two airbags. That’s changed now with stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, BA, hill-start assist and dual Isofix anchorage points as standard. While the base VL still only gets dual airbags, the VLP and VLT get six so we’ll let it slide for now.
Why the leniency for dual airbags? Well, there’s Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking (marketing talk for autonomous emergency braking) standard across all three trims. That’s definitely something that’s going to make the Honda City sit up and take notice as we can only confirm that the flagship City RS packs Honda Sensing.
Pricing wasn’t confirmed. Instead, ETCM gave us estimations that sees the VL as well as VLP in the RM8x,xxx range while the VLT climbs into the RM9x,xxx vicinity. All Almeras will come with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty with five free full scheduled maintenance.