Elevating Expectations: Nissan Almera

The worldwide market trend has really shifted to small crossovers, and it's not difficult to understand why.

Not so fast though, said Nissan. Not everyone wants a crossover, and there is still a lot of potential in making small saloon cars even better. That's exactly what we're seeing in the all-new Nissan Almera.

Known in other parts of the world as Sunny, Latio, or Versa, the new generation N18 Almera takes many of the qualities that their customers like in a subcompact saloon, and took it up several notches.

But what exactly did Nissan do to make this 4-door great? The way we see it, there are 5 key areas that make the all-new Almera sedan so much better than ever before.

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Future Forward Design

Don't judge a book by its cover, or so the saying goes. But that doesn't mean you can't make the cover appealing.

That didn't stop Nissan from fully redesigning the Almera to be as future forward as possible. Nissan applied a dynamic style direction to the Almera that they call Emotional Geometry, that's why the front end looks so different from the previous model.

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The V-Motion grille forms the basis of the character lines on the hood, while the black V trim on the bumper continues seamlessly with the headlights. And speaking of lights, the Almera now has very crisp-looking boomerang LED headlamps. Nissan also kicked the C-pillar and the trunk lid a bit higher and added a segment of black trim to create the floating roof effect that isn't common in the subcompact sedan class.

Even the interior has been highly modernized with the new cabin design direction, premium materials, and many more details. If anything, Nissan appears to have applied a lot of design elements from another one of their futuristic vehicles -the Leaf EV- into a very affordable subcompact sedan.

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Comfort Oriented

The big change with the Almera is the size, as it is significantly longer and wider than the predecessor. More importantly, they extended the wheelbase by 20mm. That would have two effects: the first is that a longer wheelbase vehicle is typically comfortable on the road, and it also means more space that can be allocated for legroom in the back.

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That's exactly what Nissan is focusing the Almera on: a comfortable cabin. They made sure that not only was the rear seat space preserved, but also improved the headroom and knee room. Nissan even fitted the Almera with a new rear center armrest with dual cupholders.

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Nissan also redesigned the front to all the important controls grouped together to be more intuitive, while freeing up more space for the front occupants. And speaking of seat comfort, the Almera also gets the high comfort, low fatigue Zero-G seat design that has been standard in larger Nissan models like the Terra and Navara.

The Almera also comes fitted with a powerful automatic climate control system. So wherever you sit in the all-new Almera, Nissan definitely made it more comfortable.

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Versatile Functionality

If you're the type that likes to have a place for your daily pocket items, then your days of putting it all on the passenger seat are over. In the Almera, there's a proper place for your stuff.

Your wallet and phone can go into the big pocket under the climate control panel, and there's a USB port and a 12-volt outlet there to charge with too. There are generous door pockets for other items, including water bottles. The dual cupholders up front are deep, and the generous depth of the glove compartment means your owner's manual and booklet won't take up all the space.

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If you happen to have made a few too many swipes of the credit card at the last mall sale, don't worry because the Almera has you covered. Pop open that boot and what you get is a total capacity of 474 liters. That's plenty for your groceries or your out of town trips too.

But if you want to fit something longer into the back, then the party trick that the Almera VL has for you is the 60/40 rear seat split folding mechanism. With this expandable system, you can easily carry several sets of golf clubs or even a big screen LED smart TV for your new condo.

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Fun and Efficient

What's truly unique about the Almera is how Nissan wanted to upend the expectations in the class. Instead of going for another normal 1.5-liter gasoline engine, Nissan chose to give their customers a boost. Literally.

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Nissan fitted the Almera with the future of the engine: they selected a 1.0-liter Turbo. That power unit is by far the most advanced engine in the category, and follows the trend of going for a smaller displacement but with the benefit of a turbocharger. While it may have just 3 cylinders, this engine has 100 horsepower and 160 Newton-meters. That torque figure is the best in the class, and that means you can expect when your right foot wants it.

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The Almera's HRA0 1.0-liter turbo intercooler (yes, it's intercooled) engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission or Xtronic CVT. There are also options in other variants for a 5-speed manual, but regardless of which one you opt for, that means fuel economy is going to be outstanding. We're already testing the Almera VL, and we'll publish our full review at a later time.

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Outstanding Safety

Nissan's coup de grace with the Almera has to be safety. All versions of the Almera come with dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, ISOFIX child seat anchors and even VDC or Vehicle Dynamic Control which is Nissan's terminology for stability control.

What sets the Almera apart is the level of available features under the Nissan Intelligent Mobility banner. All models come with Hill Start Assist to make driving safer when going up inclines, but as you go up the Almera variant ladder you get more.

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In VE and VL grades, the Almera already gets Nissan's very popular 360-degree camera system called the Around View Monitor or AVM. But the version in the Almera is the one that has Moving Object Detection, meaning it will warn you if it spots someone walking around the back of your car. Both versions also get Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (IFCW) as well as a segment leading Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB) system; yes, the Almera VE and VL can help prevent or mitigate a possible crash.

Exclusive to the VL though is the Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), the Blind Spot Warning (BSW) as well as 4 more airbags: dual side and dual curtain.

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Customers shopping in the subcompact sedan class are typically expecting more of the same. Innovation isn't what we normally call stellar because the cars are built to suit a more value-oriented mindset.

Nissan wants to turn that notion around with the Almera, and they want to show customers that you can get interesting and exciting innovation in a class of car that will likely serve as your first. And if automakers approach every vehicle in that way, then the customer will always drive happier.

Visit https://www.nissan.ph/vehicles/new/almera.html for more details.