First drive: Nissan Almera 1.0 Turbo VLT

By thoriq, 25 November 2020

Woah, looks great doesn't it?

You bet. Better than before in fact. We reckon you'll agree that, for once, Nissan's design team have outdone themselves in styling this new volume seller of theirs better than they did the last one.

The news gets even better in this range-topping 1.0 Turbo VLT pictured as it gets neat touches like full-LED lighting plus a swankier 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels set. Altogether, you'd likely won't be mistaken for a ride-hailing driver/partner as what its predecessor is somewhat renowned for now.


Did you say 1.0 turbo?

Yes we did. It's a brand new three-banger and, thanks to turbocharging, delivers a respectable amount of pep – 100PS and 152Nm – to the front wheels. Sure, not the peppiest in segment, but they're enough to get this range-topper's claimed 1,114kg kerb bulk going without any fuss.

Torque is abundant in the low- and mid-ranges, meaning there's no off-the-line sluggishness. Whilst here, we'll also note how much smoother Nissan's 'new generation X-Tronic CVT' box mated with this mill felt – it's less rubberband-ish than units fitted in older models like the X-Trail and Teana.

For highway cruises, the powertrain has little issues here, even when tasked with overtaking. Blasting from 80kph to 120kph during which isn't difficult, though you'd still have to bury your right foot in. Just don't mind the unmistakable imbalanced three-cylinder engine note here too.


Okay, it has pep. But is it efficient?

Nissan's claim of a 5.4 litres/100km (NEDC) average seems to suggest so, and our brief 36-hour stint behind the wheel of it did show strong hints of greater economical capabilities – we averaged a decent 7.1 litres/100km after a mix of both urban and highway driving regimes.

Nevertheless, this potential for greater efficiency is there given the fact that the powertrain packs an engine idling stop-start module. In fact, this is one of a few key bits that sees the Malaysian-spec Almera stand as the most advanced form of itself on sale in the ASEAN region.

What are these 'advanced' features you speak of?

For starters, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is standard equipped across the board – yes, even in the rather spartan 1.0 Turbo VL model. In this range-topper's case, there's also Blind-Spot warning, as well as a nifty 360-degree parking camera feature with moving object detection.

Next comes a sizeable and neat LCD digital multi-info display screen in the instrument panel, and a rather current 8-inch infotainment touchscreen primed with Apple CarPlay connectivity. However, do note both these features are brimmed in the mid-spec VLP and range-topping VLT variants only.

Other driving convenience present on board include a cruise control module, as well as keyless entry and ignition – the last bit being the only thing carried over from the last Almera.


Does it drive well?

Yes, but we'll be brief and point out it feels best in urban traffic. The ride is both taut and balanced enough to keep everyone comfortable, as is its cabin space. The steering, though typically muted as how most electric types as such are, isn't a deal breaker to say the least given its lightness.

On highways, the Almera does hold up well, though if you push it to near-Autobahn speeds, the rear does start to feel loose. In short, best keep between 90kph and 130kph here, which is where you'll bask in the cabin's noticeably improved NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) suppression too.

Sounds Great! But...?

Though Nissan seems to have fixed all its missteps in this new Almera, it's still too early to tell how it will fare in what is already 2020's hotly contested segment of cars. What challenges the Almera further is its pricing figures set by local Nissan vanguards Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM).

The range-topper featured here, which also boasts all the toys mentioned plus plush leather seat covers and dash upholstery, commands a rather hefty RM91,310 base price sans SST until December 31. That figure raises up to RM95,888 come January 1, 2021.

Though there is a base 1.0 VL variant available from RM79,906 (RM83,888 from January 1), it lacks all the desirable features brimmed in both the range-topping and mid-spec variants – the latter priced from RM85,715 until end of this year (RM89,888 from January 1).

Will its swanky new styling, promise of greater fuel efficiency, and the rather decent yet current features list be enough to sway you away from the new City or refreshed Vios? You be the judge.