The Sweet Spot – Nissan Almera VE MT

It’s been a while since I wrote about a vehicle’s specific variant. Well, that’s mainly because we don’t pay attention much to the rest of the range. The highlight is usually the top-dog trim, sitting atop the range.

But that isn’t the case with the all-new Nissan Almera that was launched last week. Sure, the Almera VL N-Sport will be rad to resist, especially with the bevy of body kits and tech features that come with it. And of course, the 1.0-liter turbocharged engine will surely bring delight to those looking for a powerful personal cruiser.

However, the sweet spot of the Almera range is the VE MT. In a country where manual transmission is usually relegated to base variants, the VE MT begs to differ. Why? Read along.

Good stuff on the outside

If you’re one for dressed-up cars right off the showroom, then the Almera VE MT isn’t for you. It doesn’t stand out in the range but quite frankly, the Almera in itself currently looks good with the new angular design.

Yes, you won’t be getting the N-Sport bumper, silver side mirror caps, and bigger 16-inch wheels, but you still get the good stuff like LED headlights and tail lamps, mirror-mounted turn signals, and the new Cayenne Red paint color option.

If anything, this leaves room for upgrades that you might want to add; just don’t add four fake exhaust tips, please?

Practically a VL inside

The thing with middle children like the VE is that they usually don’t get the brainy stuff that are loaded into the top-spec variant.

But that isn’t the case with the VE even with the lower MT trim. It’s practically a VL on the inside, with the omission of leather seats, 60/40 folding rear seats, and a color deviation in the door and dashboard accents.

So yes, you still get the engine push start system, automatic climate control, 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and the Intelligent Around View Monitor (360-degree-view camera). Of note, the latter’s a first among Japanese subcompact sedans.

It is, of course, important to note that you’ll be getting a urethane steering wheel and no cruise control, which is kind of a bummer if you ask me.

Long live the stick!

Here’s the best part – the stick, or stick shift, specifically. Usually, car brands in the Philippines put manual transmission variants only at the base trim, but Nissan wants to put a smile on enthusiasts by offering a stick on the mid-level trim as well. That’s something that Toyota usually does and thank heavens for Nissan for doing the same in the Almera.

So, a 1.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine connected to a 5-speed manual transmission – that’s a combo worth checking out, especially considering the numbers: 99hp and 160Nm of torque. Take note that the MT variants get higher pulling power, which should come in as early as 2,400 RPM.

As an added bonus, Nissan also throws in hill-start assist for the VE MT, which is a pretty nifty feature for cars with three pedals.

Huge price gap

And of course, the price. Even with the good stuff added into it, the Almera VE MT is still relatively affordable with its P938,000 price tag. In comparison, that’s a P160,000 gap from the top-spec VL N-Sport, which should be a big deal within this price point.

That said, if you’re in the market for the new Almera, I suggest you check out the VE MT – that’s if you’re a fan of the manual transmission. But if your budget permits it, going for the top-spec version won’t hurt.

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