[AD] Is the Nissan Almera Turbo’s three-cylinder engine really cheaper to run?

By topgear, 17 February 2021

“Three cylinders sure very noisy.”

“One litre engine where got enough power?” 

“Turbo must be expensive to maintain!”

These are some of the things keyboard warriors might say about the new Nissan Almera Turbo and its three-cylinder, 1.0-litre turbocharged engine without having a test drive or even seeing the car up close in the showroom first.

If you’ve taken the time to read a professional review or two, you’d know that automotive critics have lauded the new Almera for being a much more refined sedan than its predecessor. Let’s not forget that the old car, which was one of Edaran Tan Chong Motor’s best-selling cars, had a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine. So, even though its replacement isn’t particularly big on displacement, it’s still a thoroughly improved product in every other aspect. 

almera meter
almera taillight

Power isn’t paramount in a car engineered to be a practical and fuss-free daily driver after all. Things like connectivity and fuel efficiency matter more in routines that take drivers from one bout of traffic to another on a daily basis. And the Almera Turbo has both, with Apple CarPlay compatibility and an average consumption of 18.4km per litre (5.4 litres per 100km) being among its prominent selling points.

Do the maths and you’ll find that Nissan’s new 1.0-litre engine basically gives you a return of RM0.10 per km, or RM1 per 10km based on the cost of RON 95 petrol at time of writing. At a time when work-from-home Malaysians are using food delivery services more than ever, you’d actually be saving more money by driving out to get the meal yourself. The Almera Turbo’s high km-per-Ringgit ratio also makes it a viable candidate should you decide to use one of those apps to make some side income instead. 

Almera owners can do so with peace of mind as the savings go well beyond the pump. To get an idea of the long-term cost effectiveness, the turbocharged Almera only costs RM3,889.81 to maintain via official ETCM service centres within the first 100,000km of ownership. The cost to service a fellow Japanese B-segment rival with a more conventional 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine may be marginally cheaper at RM3,669.71 over the same duration. But things still work out in the Almera’s favour after factoring in its cheaper annual road tax.

Yes, being a 1.0-litre car, the Almera Turbo only incurs RM20 in annual road tax versus the RM90 its rivals with 1.5- or 1.6-litre engines will need to fork out to JPJ – a difference of RM70 per year. That’s RM350 saved over a five-year period, bringing the Almera’s overall ownership cost to RM3989.81 versus the rival’s grand total of RM4,119.71. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as savings are concerned. 

The Almera Turbo only incurs RM20 in annual road tax versus the RM90 its rivals with 1.5- or 1.6-litre engines need to fork out – a difference of RM70 per year

This is where things get interesting for low-mileage users. Instead of the industry-standard 10,000km service interval every six months, the Almera Turbo needs to be serviced every 7,000km instead due to its unique mechanical architecture. While this may not benefit frequent interstate travellers, the shorter intervals work in favour of city commuters and urban motorists who average about 1,000km a month with the occasional ‘balik kampung’ drive thrown in; the exact type of driver the Almera is perfectly suited for. 

Despite the added intervals, the Almera Turbo’s overall ownership cost up to 100,000km (98,000km to be specific) still stands. That’s RM3,889.81 for a total of 15 intervals versus the standard 10-interval schedule employed by other carmakers, which translates to an average of RM259.32 per interval versus the RM366.97 for the aforementioned rival. 

And if 7,000km is enough to last you six months, you can stretch that 98,000km over a span of 84 months (seven years) without voiding the warranty for the first five years of ownership during which it is in effect. This works out to an average of only RM555.69 in scheduled service costs annually compared to RM733.94 a year charged by its competitor assuming both cars are serviced as per the respective manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

Almera headlight
Almera interior

Low-mileage drivers who can stretch out 98,000km over the span of 84 months only pay an average of RM555.68 in scheduled service costs annually

Based on this schedule, the Nissan Almera Turbo is hard to beat from an economical standpoint in its first five years of ownership. Free alternate intervals during this period bring the total cost of service for the first 60 months to just RM1,766.72 for owners who clock 7,000km or less every six months. That’s even less than what it takes to maintain cheaper Malaysian makes, including one of the most affordable cars on sale in the country that runs on a similar three-cylinder engine and more rudimental manual transmission; what was it about turbocharged engines (and CVTs) being expensive to maintain again? 

So, before buying your next car, ask yourself if the fuel economy, administration fees and the price of maintenance are things you should consider before signing on the dotted line. Because if you want to be smart about how these factors are going to affect your overall cost of ownership, few new cars make an argument as compelling as that of the all-new Nissan Almera Turbo. 

Click HERE for more information about the all-new Nissan Almera Turbo and find out how you can own one from only RM540 a month.