The Philippine automotive sector was humming merrily along, basking in its golden age, when that dream trip was so rudely interrupted by a deadly pandemic in early 2020. We were leading healthy social lives then, before the novel Coronavirus put a stop to that and forced all of us in our homes, unable to mingle. These are examples of disruption—an interruption of an event or process. The bully pandemic disrupted virtually everything—most of them not in a good way.
In its own small way, Nissan has come up with a pushback to this disruption: A disruption of its own, an interruption of the current motoring doldrums by introducing an exciting version of what was previously an average model.
At first glance, the all-new Almera truly looks more daringly designed. On paper, the technology, specifications, and power seem to follow through the expression of the body. When it was officially introduced by Nissan Philippines (NPI) on Oct. 8 in a live virtual event from the World Trade Center in Pasay City, I had this very strong impression that the new Almera would compete with the likes of the Honda City, Toyota Vios, Mitsubishi Mirage and Hyundai Accent, but with a twist.
And that twist is revealed when you pop open the hood, or step on the gas pedal. It’s the segment-first new 1-liter turbocharged engine. The supporting cast of features is no less attention-getting. There are proprietary technologies embedded, thanks to Nissan Intelligent Mobility; the interiors are quite sophisticated, while the after-sales offers, particularly on the VL and VE variants, are best-in-class, such as the 5-year or 150,000 km warranty. Although the Hyundai Accent also offers a 5-year warranty with unlimited mileage, the new Almera gains the edge in terms of periodic maintenance service (PMS) interval at only twice a year (or every 7,000 km) which is, in this case, on equal footing with Honda City (twice a year or every 10,000 km).
Turbocharging the 1-liter engine makes all the difference in power, ramping up the new Almera’s torque to 152 Nm for the CVT and 160 Nm for the manual tranny. Compared to, let’s say, the Accent 1.4-liter gasoline-powered variant that generates just 132 Nm, the new Almera and its 1-liter pocket rocket can hold its own in its segment.
The segment-first Nissan Intelligent Mobility in the new Almera provides monitoring and intervention systems, giving car owners added driving confidence and safety. These “intelligent” features include forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, as well as the Around View Monitor (AVM) with moving object detection.
Lighter but more powerful
The 1-liter turbo engine, according to NPI, is lighter but delivers greater power and better fuel efficiency, and comes in four variants for both automatic and manual transmission.
The engine generates a maximum 99 hp of power, a class-leading 152 Nm of torque, and a purported fuel efficiency of 23.3 km per liter; these numbers show improvements from the previous models.
Lasting first impression
The new Almera incorporates a sleek, comfortable, and spacious design that leaves a lasting first impression on first-time car owners and millennial families alike. The new design features lower, wider, and longer exterior dimensions using Nissan’s Emotional Geometry design language, while retaining the Almera’s roomy interior space. Key elements of the Emotional Geometry design language in the new Almera include the V-motion grille, boomerang- shaped LED headlamps and tail lamps, LED signature daytime running lamps, kick-up C-pillars, and a floating roof.
The interior looks to set itself apart, as it has also been completely redesigned to accommodate a new 7-inch TFT Meter with integrated drive-assist display, infotainment screen, black leather interiors with contrast stitching, as well as a new D-shaped steering wheel with hands-free, meter, and voice recognition controls. The stylish passenger cabin features high-quality design and exemplary craftsmanship with head and legroom to spare, retaining its reputation for best-in-class roominess.
The infotainment system provides convenience and seamless connectivity with an 8-inch advanced touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, bringing infotainment, navigation, safety, security, and more under a single platform, with connection via smartphone.
“The all-new Almera is the smart and stylish sedan that first time owners, growing families, and young professionals can trust,” said Atsushi Najima, President and Managing Director of NPI. “As part of Nissan’s transformation plan in the Philippines, we are offering a unique and exciting challenger in the competitive passenger car segment,” he added.
Prices, colors, warranties
The all-new Nissan Almera starts at P728,000, and will be available in Cayenne Red, Gun Metallic, Galaxy Black, Premium Corona Orange, Brilliant Silver, and Pearl White colors.
The VE and VL N-Sport variants come with a vehicle warranty of five years or 150,000 km (whichever comes first), and like the Navara and Terra, provide customers a worry-free ownership experience.