Life is full of easy choices. Coffee or tea. Sedan or hatchback. Most of the time, the choices are up to preference.
But there are other choices out there that are quite challenging because, well, they are almost the same. Almost, but not quite. An example of which is caldereta or afritada, but since you’re reading this, you know what I mean.
This is a battle between the Honda City Sedan RS and the Nissan Almera VL N-Sport. Both revamped and updated this year, these two small Japanese sedans are closely matched against each other, especially with their pricing.
I’ve driven both, back-to-back, so here’s a clear-cut comparison between the two in case you’re in the market for a subcompact sedan.
Equipment-wise, the City RS and Almera VL N-Sport are on the same ground. They both use LEDs for lighting, both have fog lamps, and both employ a host of body kits that make them stand out from the rest of their respective ranges. Since design is the most subjective part of this comparison, this is fully based on how I see both cars. In that regard, I’d say this part is a mix of both.
I particularly adore the front half of the Nissan. Apart from being a huge leap from the outgoing model, the Almera’s fascia reminds me of the Skyline sedan sold in Japan. It’s sporty and reeks of aggression, which made it more attractive in my eyes.
On the other hand, the City RS wins my vote on the rear half. I think the integration of the spoiler is better on the Honda, while the shark’s fin antenna and the graphics on the LED taillights look divine.
Inside, the competition is just as tight. Both sedans applied some premium touches on the dashboard, door trims, and other parts of the car. There are sporty accents as well, which is red on the Honda and white/gray on the Almera. The screens have great resolutions, too, while the knobs and buttons all come with tactile feedback.
However, the advantage of the City RS in terms of the practicality is the clincher. It has more well-thought cubbies than the Almera, plus the Honda upends the Nissan with its elbow rest upfront that doubles as a covered storage point. Moreover, the Almera, while still spacious, has a marginally smaller knee room on the rear seats.
Meanwhile, the Almera still has an ace up its sleeve. Both cars have cavernous trunk space for a small sedan, but the Nissan has the advantage with its foldable rear backrests, giving owners the option to carry long/tall cargo.
Tech & safety
In terms of features, these cars went on similar paths but with a glaring difference. Both are loaded with tech and safety toys, just as you would expect from new cars these days.
The Almera bets on safety with its Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which includes emergency braking, blind-spot warning, rear-cross-traffic alert, and intelligent around-view monitor with moving object detection.
Those features are hard to beat, but the City RS banks on stirring things up by adding convenience into the mix. I’m talking about cruise control, which the Almera apparently is lacking.
That said, it’s a tough call, but I’d go with the City RS since I think the cruise control feature is a deal-breaker. The around-view monitor is a cool feature to have but with a car of this size, it isn’t exactly a necessity. Cruise control, on the other hand, is a very convenient feature. Those who frequent highways know the advantage of having one, especially on extended periods of time.
The Honda City Sedan and Nissan Almera have similar setups in terms of dampening. Independent McPherson struts are found at the front while torsion beams take care of the rear axles.
In a real-world setting and testing, the driving and riding comfort of both cars are also similar, typical of sedans – pliant to road imperfections with minimal body rolls on winding roads.
However, the City RS gets the upper hand with its great NVH insulation. That, or the Almera just has a non-impressive setup, which increases the contrast between the two.
Moreover, the City’s marginally bigger legroom is combined with a more comfortable seating position than the Almera. The rear A/C vents also add points for the Honda, along with the dark headliner that absorbs outside light, ergo, making everything’s easier on the eyes while at the back.
Performance & handling
These two cars largely differ in terms of their power plants. Just like the rest of the City sedans, the Honda City RS is powered by a new naturally aspirated 1.5-liter DOHC inline-4 gasoline engine, capable of making 119hp and 145Nm of torque.
On the other hand, the Nissan Almera VL N-Sport, also just like the rest of the Almera range, comes with a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-pot gasoline mill that puts out 99hp and 152Nm of torque.
Both cars send their power to the front wheels via CVT but the City RS is the only one that comes with manual mode through paddle shifters.
However, my test proved that the Almera VL N-Sport doesn’t need that manual intervention. The small Nissan responds quickly to accelerator inputs. The higher torque was apparent during actual drives, especially since it arrived at lower RPMs. The result was a quick and peppy car that won’t run short of power in any given situation.
In comparison to the City, the Almera was much more fun to drive. Not that the former was lackluster; the latter’s just evidently better to drive. Handling-wise both cars were on equal footing, though the Almera has lighter steering feel that tightened up at faster speeds.
It’s hard to compare the fuel efficiency ratings of these cars within the urban jungle as I didn’t have the same route of city testing between the two during my tests.
However, I was able to test them both on a flat highway at an average speed of 90 km/h. The City Sedan RS returned 20.6 km/l, while the Almera read 23.4 km/l.
It’s important to note that the Almera requires you to feed it with 95 octane gasoline, which is the more expensive fuel type. The City, on the other hand, will do just fine with regular fuel.
After reading the result of my back-to-back tests between these two subcompact sedans, I hope I was able to bring you a more clear-cut choice depending on your preference.
Priced at P1,058,000, the Honda City Sedan RS will endow you with a better cabin amenity and a more comfortable ride quality. It’s also more convenient to drive on long journeys, which makes it a good choice for those who live outside the, err, city.
On the other hand, the Nissan Almera VL N-Sport at P1,098,000 should be your pick if you want a more engaging drive from a safe sedan that’s also thrifty with fuel. It’s also a great choice for those who foresee some cargo-hauling duties.
In both cases, the consumers will always be the winner. But if you ask me, I’d prefer the Honda City because of the overall offering of its cabin amenities. And yes, cruise control is a deal-breaker, considering that I use highways religiously.