Subcompact sedans are among the top choices as daily cars. They’re relatively fuel-efficient and their overall size is just enough to easily maneuver through tight streets, yet, not too short on interior space. In fact, they are among the most bought vehicles through AutoDeal — 34% of the vehicle sales from January to June 2017 are subcompact cars.
Nissan Philippines’ entry to this segment is the Almera. This model may sound new for some but it’s the soul successor to the small family sedan from the '90s called Sunny. With that, we borrowed the top-of-the-line Almera 1.5 VL ATto see how it performs as a daily car.
Up front, the Nissan Almera’s design isn’t too far from its bigger brother, the Sylphy. It has the same hourglass grille and sweptback boomerang headlamps, however, both are bolder and curvier with this model. It’s also adorned with chrome accents at the fog lamps, grille, and door handles, which somehow fit the overall styling of the car.
On its side, the Almera has less character lines and has a tall profile. The rear end of this variant gets a small lip spoiler, adding a sporty touch to its demeanor. Overall, its design isn’t as sleek as its competitors such as the Honda City and Mazda2 Sedan, or the popular Toyota Vios, but it’s more of a simple car with a tad touch of class.
The Almera may not look like it but it’s among the biggest in its class. Although it’s at the median when it comes to overall width and length of its competitors, it has a towering 1,505mm height and 2,600mm wheelbase. This size advantage says a lot when it comes to its interior space (more on that later).
Speaking of interior, the Almera has a light interior theme; the cabin is dominated by a combination of grey and beige materials. If you want a well-lit cabin, this one's for you but you need to be extra cautious of stains and dirt. The dashboard is straightforward and clutter-free, while the black central panel with circular button cluster for the automatic climate control is a bit off if you ask me. The plastic parts are also up to your preference.
The controls are all within arm's reach of the driver — save one, which is the electronic adjuster of the power-folding side mirrors. It’s better if we don’t have to lean forward whenever we need to adjust the mirrors. The simple 2-DIN head unit is dashboard-integrated and can easily connect with your iPhone/iPods via USB. However, Android users will need to connect through the auxiliary port instead. And no, Bluetooth connectivity isn't available with this model.
When it comes to interior space, the Almera is up there, if not the biggest. There’s plenty of head-, leg-, and elbow-room inside even for individuals who stand at 5’8”, while the rear passengers can enjoy a cozy trip with 2 aircon vents with an independent control. The leather seats feels nice, and the driver can easily find a suitable driving positionwith its height adjuster and tiltable steering wheel.
Body roll is present, yes, as this car is equipped with soft suspension that can absorb reasonable road imperfections. With these mentioned traits and Nissan’s legendary air conditioning, we can boldly say that the ride comfort for the driver and the passengers is the best characteristic of the Almera.
At the heart of the Almera is a 4-cylinder 1.5L gasoline engine mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. On paper, its 99 hp and 134 Nm of torque is a class underdog, however, it’s a different story when driven.
The car performs well whether we like a relaxing drive or a fast-paced trip. The engine is responsive and the rev matches every input on the accelerator pedal. It’s also able to pull the car easily with 4 people on-board and uphill climbs aren’t really a problem, even with the absence of hill start assist.
The Almera is also gifted with a light steering feel, so maneuvering on tight city streets is easy and effortless. Although, it could have been better if the steering gets a bit heavier on the highway for a stabler cruise. Still, it stays composed even at high speeds.
Best part of it? The Almera registers impressive fuel economy figures. Stop-and-go situations on EDSA at an average speed of 15 km/h gave out 7.1 km/l reading, while light traffic at 60 km/h registers 15.2 km/l. Highway stints, on the other hand, read 21.3 km/l at an average speed of 90 km/h.
To be honest, the Almera wasn't love-at-first-sight. This model wasn't something that would have popped into my list if I were to buy a subcompact sedan. However, that was before I was able to drive this car.
For someone who drives 3-4 hours a day in all types of road situations, I can boldly say that it’s indeed a great buddy on the road. With the P880,000 price tag for a range-topper, it’s among the least expensive within its class, yet, it has all the essentials for a comfortable and enjoyable ride — features worthy for you to consider as a daily driver.
99 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Nissan Almera 1.5 VL AT
Number of Cylinders
Number of Valves
Max Output (HP)
99 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque (nm)
134 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Economy & Environment
Number of Doors
Number of Seats
Safety & Security
Front Passenger's Airbag
Electronic Brake Distribution
with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist