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Design Departure

What attracts a buyer to a car? Is it curvaceous lines, a cool and aggressive stance, funky LED everything and the spine-tingling whine of a turbo pulling away? If it is, then most buyers would walk right past the new Nissan Almera...
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
19 Oct 2015
What we like:
pros
The space
pros
the surprising engine and handling
pros
the value.
What we dislike:
cons
The shape
cons
the wrong-side indicators/wipers
cons
plastic wheel covers.

I astonished myself and scared the local cats by spinning the wheels out of my local car park - the Almera's manual box and peppy four-cylinder engine make it surprisingly sporty if you want to give it a little gas. The performance is probably helped by the car's flyweight - it's only a smidgeon over 1 tonne, based on Nissan's proven FWD "V" universal vehicle base. The 1498cc 4-cylinder engine output is rated at just under 100bhp, with an accessible 134Nm of torque at 4000rpm which lets you hang onto any of the five gears if you want to get revvy.
The handling - again possibly because of the light weight - is quite good for a budget car. It is steady yet predictable, and although the car has a tight turning circle and very precise slow-speed steering it isn't hard work at speed - if anything the steering gets a little more solid over 80kph.

The Bridgstone B250s on steel wheels don't conduct too much noise into the cabin; surprising given the huge space and multitude of plastic panels. In fact the Almera is quite relaxing to drive about in - if the radio was better, that would have been a bonus. In terms of comfort, again the Almera surprises. It has little body roll, even when swerving about like we have to in order to test the car, officer. The ride is better than you might expect given the budget level steel suspension; good on ripples yet well damped over bigger ruts and with little feedback into passenger bottoms. And the simple design again comes up with an unexpected bonus - the slabby shape means big windows that give excellent visibility when manoeuvring.

Overall the Almera offers an really well integrated package for nipping about town, jumping in and out of with kids, cats, dogs, shopping and more, yet still offering an involving drive. It's not that pretty, and it doesn't claim to offer the latest high tech gadgets and electronic controls, but it is very effective and won't break the petrol bank at a little over 6km/100km consumption either.
And if you do have a problem on the North-South Highway, you know that just about any mechanic can fix it there and then. Sometimes old-school design can deliver very well.

Credits: Story and Photos by Jeremy Torr

Cars in this article
Nissan Almera 1.5 2014
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Nissan Almera 1.5 2014

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Sedan
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