Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- Solidly developed and built
- Very cheap for its size
- A reliable and comfortable car
- Good fuel economy
- One of the dullest cars to drive
- Disappointing interior design
- Reluctant to accelerate and drive fast
The second generation Almera is the Japanese claim for a bit of the ever-popular hatchback sector. The first Almera was introduced in 1995 and was a relatively popular car. However, due to its bland exterior and some old-fashioned features, it was still stuck in the Datsun/Nissan era. With the 2nd generation, they were trying to achieve quite a bit more. Although the new car retained the 1st generation's wheelbase, it is actually built on an entirely new platform and not just any platform. The new Almera was a result of collaboration within the Nissan/Renault alliance, hence the car feels almost French. Almeras meant for the UK market are made locally at Sunderland and generally excel with good quality craftsmanship.
Exterior and Interior
Stylistically the 2nd generation Almera hasn't moved very far away from the first generation. You'll still recognise the silhouette, however, having a French touch has seriously enhanced the way the car looks. It's much smoother, displays appealing curves and the front end has brought it confidently into the 21st century.
The car has tried to be bigger than the Golf by slightly increasing the dimensions. One dimension that they've overlooked is the width. The curvy sides don't help it either, as a result, there might not be enough space to comfortably accommodate 3 adults at the back, especially on the shoulder level. Otherwise, the car feels big and spacious from the inside, also offering a good size boot space.
The interiors are rather disappointing. Not only doe it lacks a vision and flow, the materials used are far from good-quality. The cloth (several trims include a patterned cloth for those looking for a bus look) is prone to excessive wear.
After applying all the Renault's know-how, the safety package was significantly improved, landing the Almera a respectable 4-star rating at the EuroNCAP crash tests.
Performance and Economy
One might feel that with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, the Almera is underpowered for its class. But then the Golf (that the Almera has always tried to be) comes with a 1.4-litre 75bhp engine for its basic model. So, people who are looking for a cheaper alternative will actually end up with an additional 13bhp. Overall, the Almeras display good dynamic features. It's not quick though, so you'll have to wait for 12-13 seconds to reach 60mph.
All three engines are fit for the purpose. A car like Almera doesn't need sporty engines as it's a cheap alternative for a mid-sized family who would are more worried about their fuel bill. The good news is that they don't really have to worry. The 1.5-litre engine delivers 43mpg while the efficient diesel engine will manage 48mpg.
In the used car market, the Almera is one of the cheapest post-2000 cars that you can buy without acquiring a vehicle with bagful of problems. It's not the most desirable cars out there, so you can expect a bargain on a low-mileage car.
Like to Drive
It is rather dull. Very little has been done to excite the driver. On smooth roads the car displays decent handling; it goes a bit jagged on a bumpy surface but there are no major faults, the car is solid and comfortable. It is as utilitarian as you can imagine. Although it won't take your breath away, it will ensure you don't experience fatigue at the end of a long drive.
Faults and Repairs
Earlier diesel models are known to have serious problems with camshaft and crankshaft. Some models are prone to timing chain failure due to a poor tensioning. Everything aforementioned can lead to an expensive repair work that is likely to cost more than the car's resale value. It appears that later Almeras have solved the engine problems, thus it's a good idea to go for a post-2002 Almera. They also received a subtle face-lift making the car look a little bit better.