For a time, it seemed like Nissan had totally forgotten about the Almera. It was somehow understandable since they were busy with the Leaf and their other electric car projects, introduced a new model with the Terra, and had major updates on the Navara. Thankfully they realized that sedans in the Philippines are still valuable and their 10-year old contender needs an overhaul.
Being a wallflower in the sedan arena had its advantages as Nissan was able to observe its rivals. What works and what doesn’t, everything was noted down and implemented into their updated sedan. The result is this – the 2022 Nissan Almera with a 1-liter turbo engine across all variants. I caught up with the VE trim that’s priced under a million to see if it can take eyes away from its rivals.
Aesthetically, this Almera is neck and neck with the Honda City V. Both have sleek styling but didn’t go overboard in their sportiness. The cues are there especially at the back thanks to the Almera’s black outline on the taillight, the sculpting below it, and its faux diffuser. What’s best about the exterior is the tinted Nissan logo that also acts as the front sensor. It somehow hides what it is, but the V-motion grille also gives it away making for a not-so-subtle flaunting upfront.
The cabin is very alluring for a sedan at this price point. Typically we’ll be bombarded with black and grays but Nissan took the time and effort to implement the cream colored soft-touch leather on the dash with matching accents on the seats and headliner. They also made sure you’ll remember there’s a turbo in this car by having faux carbon fiber accents on the door armrests. Visibility was also given importance with the quarter panels beside the side mirrors giving you a better view of pedestrians and obstructions on the road.
Things are plain at the back with the lack of rear air vents or center armrest. Still, air is not a problem since, as cliché as it sounds, Nissan’s single zone climate control for the Almera is really good. It’s the first time my temp was at 21 degrees even at number 1 under the midday sun.
City driving with the Almera is a mixed bag. As I said before, Nissan has put in features unseen in this segment and it pays dividends to the driver. This VE trim has Around View Monitor or their 360-camera system which helps a lot in tight maneuvers and parking spaces. There’s also Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Emergency Braking that makes the chaotic roads of Metro Manila a bit more safe and tolerable.
These are complemented by the driving dynamics of the sedan. Steering is firm and responsive with just the right amount of resistance for highway driving. The pedals aren’t the most responsive but I appreciate the soft brake pedal that lessens the fatigue during stop and go traffic. Hopefully you’re an Apple user too since the 8-inch touchscreen doesn’t support Android Auto but for CarPlay, it has a snappy response and doesn’t have any hiccups.
The turning point is in the cabin’s noise isolation. The presence of road noise inside the cabin is apparent. Conversations of nearby riders and pedestrians are audible and not just murmurs. This also translates to more engine noise heard from other vehicles especially motorcycles and trucks in the city and on the highway.
Speaking of highway, the Almera tends to shine when out on the expressways. Wind noise is very tolerable up to the speed limit despite my observations on the cabin isolation. Overtaking is a momentous task since the rubber band effect of the CVT is very apparent especially on higher speeds. You’ll be thankful for that though because it pulls you back into just cruising (but this doesn’t have cruise control) and you’ll end up with great fuel figures.
City driving yielded 9.2 km/l with traffic of course. Cruising on 90kph on the highways returned 28.7km/l. Yes, you read that right. The Nissan Almera’s 1-liter turbocharged engine is just as efficient as a small hatchback in the city, but more when it comes to highway driving. I had to check my past reviews of this Almera’s rivals and the best I yielded with them was around 20-21 km/l in the same situation.
Try out the Nissan Almera because if the cabin’s pain point is not an issue for you and you’re an iPhone user, it is a bargain. For P999,000 you’re getting a stylish sedan with just the right amount of cabin flair and comfort, advanced safety features, and a really fuel efficient engine.
What I like most about it is it didn’t leave me wanting for more. There’s still the VL N-Sport as the top of the line model but this VE is very much adequate. It may not have the superlatives in other areas like speed, style, or ride comfort but it gets you where it matters most – and for most people that’s in your pocket. It won’t burn a deep hole if you buy it, fuel efficient enough that it won’t burn much once you drive it. Nissan just proved that being late to the party isn’t always bad with this Almera VE.