The B-segment sedan market is heating up again after Nissan launched the all-new Nissan Almera. Sporting a sleek new look inside and out, the subcompact four-door features the brand's new Emotional Geometry Design Language, a more high-tech and comfortable interior, a turbocharged powertrain, and a wide array of standard safety features.
But does have what it takes to take on the best-selling subcompact in the country, the Toyota Vios? What features does the new Almera have that the Vios lacks? And is the Almera's turbocharged three-cylinder engine all show and no-go compared to the bigger engines of the Vios?
Let's check them out.
Sizing them up
Let's start with the dimensions. At 4530mm long and 1740mm wide, the Almera is bigger than the Vios by 105mm and 10mm, respectively. The Almera's longer body also translates to a more spacious cabin thanks to a 2620mm wheelbase. The Vios makes do with a slightly shorter 2550mm wheelbase.
But Toyota's best-selling sedan bounces back in terms of height as it stands 1475mm tall, while the Almera is shorter at 1460mm.
With the Almera outsizing the Vios by a few millimeters, the Nissan appears to be the roomier sedan. But size isn't everything since car buyers also look for the features available inside a B-segment sedan.
Available features and technologies
Perhaps one of the biggest selling points when it comes to buying cars is the number of standard amenities and technologies. Whether it's touchscreen infotainment, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, smart keyless entry, or even Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, these features matter to new car buyers. Luckily, both the Vios and Almera are available with such features.
Starting with the Vios, most variants (except the J and Base versions) come with a 6.75-inch touchscreen that supports USB, Aux, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and even voice command. It also gets automatic climate control and leather upholstery, but those are only available on the top-spec G and GR-S versions.
As for the Almera, all models come with automatic climate control and a keyless entry system. It also has larger 8-inch touchscreen infotainment that's standard on the VE and VL variants (EL only has a 2-DIN head unit). The touchscreen comes with USB, Aux, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Unfortunately, Android Auto is not available in the all-new Almera. Like the Vios, the Almera can come with leather upholstery but it's only available on the top-of-the-line N-Sport trim.
All in all, it appears that both the Vios and Almera are evenly matched when it comes to amenities and features. But what about engine performance?
Under the hood
The Vios is available with two four-cylinder engines. First is the 1.3-liter 1NR-FE that makes 99 PS with 123 Nm of torque. It's available on the 1.3 Base, J, XE, XLE, and E variants of the Vios.
Need more power? There's the slightly larger 1.5-liter 2NR-FE engine with 107 PS with 140 Nm of torque. Unlike the 1.3, the more powerful engine is only available on the G and GR-S versions of the sedan. Both engines can be mated to either a five-speed manual or a CVT.
Whereas the Vios only comes with naturally-aspirated engines, the Almera bites back with forced induction. From the base EL all the way to the range-topping N-Sport, the all-new Almera comes with a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that produces 100 PS with 152 Nm of torque when connected to a CVT. A five-speed manual gearbox is also available on the all-new Almera with more torque at 160 Nm, but that's only available on the EL.
The Almera may only have three cylinders under the hood, but thanks to the turbo, it makes nearly similar power to the Vios' 1.5 mill and more torque than both the 1.3- and 1.5-liter engines. We're curious to test Nissan's claimed average fuel consumption of over 23 km/L.
If there's one thing both the Vios and Almera have plenty of, it's the number of standard safety features. Both sedans come with anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), brake assist (BA), traction control (TC), electronic stability program (ESP), hill-start assist (HSA), and dual front airbags.
On higher-grade models, both sedans come with additional curtain and side airbags for added protection. Only available on the Vios, however, is the driver's knee airbag which comes standard on all variants.
But what ultimately sets the Almera apart from the Vios is its Nissan Intelligent Mobility features. This gives Nissan's new B-segment sedan a wide array of smart safety systems. On the top-spec N-Sport, the Almera has a 360-degree around-view monitor (AVM) with moving object detection (MOD), front collision warning (FCW), intelligent emergency braking (IEB), blind-spot warning (BSW), and rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA).
Compared to the Vios, which only comes with a reverse camera and rear parking sensors (on high-grade variants), the Almera's full suite of safety systems offers more peace of mind while on the road.
So we now know what we'll be getting from the Toyota Vios and the Nissan Almera. Both are packed with lots of features, although the Almera gets the benefit of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. It also has the extra pulling power thanks to a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that's standard across the range. But how much will the Vios or Almera cost you?
The price range of the Vios spans from PHP 681,000 in the 1.3 Base to PHP 1,020,000 in the 1.5 GR-S. Meanwhile, the Almera starts at PHP 728,000 for the 1.0 EL Turbo M/T and goes up to PHP 1,098,000 for the top-spec 1.0 VL Turbo N-Sport CVT. The Vios has more variants available and is relatively more affordable, but the Almera comes with more equipment and Nissan Intelligent Mobility.
The Almera seems to bring a lot to the table, and the Vios could be faced with stiff competition. Toyota may sell more units of the Vios for now, but Nissan's packaging with the Almera is not something that should be ignored.
Given the opportunity, which one would you pick? The tried-and-tested Toyota Vios, or the more high-tech, turbocharged Nissan Almera?