Published on January 11th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez1
Nissan Almera w/ Nismo Performance Package
Here we have the facelifted Almera with a Nismo Performance Package, which at first glance seems to be a done-up version of Nissan’s mass-market B-segment sedan. And you’d be right- it is effectively the same model underneath. There’s no crazy strut bracing or additional welding or wild geometry changes to make this a hard-core performance model, instead focusing on minor changes to certain components.
The Nismo package offers you a variety of parts. More obvious are the body-kit and the wheels, which add some aesthetic flair to an otherwise plain Japanese sedan. The pre-facelift version of the Nismo Almera was tastefully done, although this facelifted model looks like Nissan has gone a little overboard with the styling. The interior receives some neat touches like red-stitched seats and Nismo labelled floor mats, but stays largely the same for the most part.
What you should focus on are the up-rated tyres and suspension. A stock Nissan Almera runs on despairingly narrow 185 mm tyres, which don’t offer much in the way of grip. The performance package model is fitted with some high performance Conti Max Contact tyres, 205 mm wide. The suspension has been changed from the floppy stock units to something with a bit more resistance and far better damper tuning.
How does that translate to on-the-road performance? To put it short, it’s fantastic. One would be hard pressed to achieve this kind of result with other aftermarket parts without investing money in some seriously high-end equipment. With the Nismo package, the Almera is entirely capable of out-cornering hot hatchbacks on the open road.
Body control is kept well in check without compromising the ride beyond acceptable limits. Bumps and undulations are handled well with the kind of firmness in the suspension similar to a MINI, and the same kind of quick and effective damping that keeps the body from bounding with every jolt. But like any car, the Almera has its faults.
A lack of power is one. On paper the Almera has 102 PS, which the kind of power and torque output in line with every other 1.5-litre model in class. On the road that power seems to vaporize, leaving the Almera whining and wheezing to catch up with it’s peers. Perhaps it may be this car in particular, with a barely run in engine at only 500 kilometres on the clock – but it’s a stark contrast to the sheer handling edge that the performance package gives. The performance muffler makes the Almera a little noisier, but without performance to back up the noise it feels slightly uncalled for.
There are still plenty of superlative qualities. The steering may be light and lacking in feedback, but it has a level of precision and predictability that puts it quite high up on the scale of entry level sedans. The Almera also has great rear legroom and interior space, making it a very good alternative to the more popular Vios and City. This test unit also comes packaged with Nissan’s Android-based entertainment system- a very clean unit that pairs with phones easily and responds quickly to inputs. It may not be outright luxurious, but it nails the basics of a good entertainment system.
Edaran Tan Chong Motors sells the Nismo parts on their own, which allows owners to customise their Almeras as they see fit. The best option would be to buy the kit and sell off the aesthetic bits, spending the remaining money on parts to improve the engine’s performance (at the risk of voiding your warranty, naturally). Start off with a basic manual Almera and work your way up from there- you’re guaranteed to have a veritable pocket rocket in no time.
The Nismo package comes in at a hefty RM 14,000. Opting for the body kit with the wheels and tyres clocks in at RM 9,000, while the body kit on it’s own will run you RM 4,500. The top of the line VL unit (the base for this test unit) costs RM 77,622, while the optional 6.5 inch entertainment system with internet package will cost you RM 6,500. Pieced together, this test unit costs just short of RM 100,000- so pick and choose options wisely.