November 07, 2021 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2022 Nissan Almera VL N-Sport

A Celebration of Fundamentals

The handsome 4th generation Nissan Almera (N18) sedan is now available and it is an enormous improvement from its predecessor.

In fairness, the outgoing Almera was actually very spacious and had the most comfortable rear seats in its class, if only it had the aesthetics and packaging to support it. In fact, the rear legroom of the old model is still a bit better than the all-new one though that is the only feature where it excelled.

The all-new 2022 Nissan Almera (also known as the Versa in North America where it actually did fairly well as the Versa Note hatchback in its market due to its better looks, packaging, frugality, and price) still shares the same basic V-Platform as the old model but with considerably better suspension and a 20 mm longer wheelbase.

The new Almera looks a lot like the brilliant Leaf EV (and the North American Maxima, Altima, and Sentra) in fact it has a longer body by 15 mm though it uses a shorter wheelbase by 82 mm so the electrified hatch actually has more interior room. Compared directly with the old model, the new Almera is 70 mm longer, 45 mm wider, but 40 mm lower for better aerodynamics.

The mechanical improvements are also profound even if the numbers may look very modest. The old Almera used a sluggish normally aspirated 1.5-liter 4-cylinder with 99 bhp too but it had only 98 lb-ft of peak torque at 4000 rpm routed through an inert 4-speed automatic transmission.

The overachieving new Almera, with comparable weight, uses a trick new turbocharged 1.0-liter inline-3 engine with 112 lb-ft of elastic torque from as low as 2400 to 4000 rpm mated to an exemplary new optimized CVT that simulates conventional gear changes while also having a Sport mode function discreetly found on the gear knob to inject a bit more oomph to the driving experience when needed. The new D-Step Logic System on the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission uses dynamic inputs such as vehicle speed, accelerator position, and pace to swiftly determine optimal gear ratios for maximum smoothness and linear acceleration.

The end result of the massive design, packaging and engineering upgrades is the very best Almera ever that is now authentically very compelling and competitive in our market. It feels spritely and nimble without feeling flimsy and sloppy. In fact, it drives really well and is planted while feeling like it has 25 more horsepower thanks to all the improvements. The Nissan engine feels dramatically stronger than the 123 bhp 1.0-liter turbo powerplant on the Ford EcoSport.

Acceleration from naught to 100 km/h has improved from a best of 13.3 seconds in the past to a Honda City RS challenging 9.9 seconds while being astonishingly quiet and fuel efficient with its modestly-sized fuel tank. The top speed also improved from 160 km/h to 196 km/h while being at least 25 percent more fuel efficient. The chassis, brakes, and suspension setup are so good on the little Nissan sedan that I can’t help but imagine if the engine was tuned for more power. The build quality is excellent and with all the standard active and passive safety measures, it gets an almost perfect crash test score in North America and in our region.

The new Almera VL N-Sport also comes with Nissan Intelligent Mobility features that provide monitoring and intervention technology that include Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Hill Start Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, 6-SRS bags, as well as the Intelligent 360-degree Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection.

It is available in four variants with automatic and 5-speed manual transmission options that actually produce a touch more torque but at a cost of a little less fuel economy (beginning with the 1.0 EL Turbo MT at PhP 728,000.00, followed by the 1.0 VE Turbo MT PhP 938,000.00, then 1.0 VE Turbo CVT PhP 998,000.00, and then our top-spec VL N-Sport Cayenne Red test unit at PhP 1,098,000.00.

The other five colors available are Gun Metallic, Galaxy Black, Premium Corona Orange like the GT-R, Brilliant Silver, and Pearl White for an additional PhP 15,000.00). The all-new Almera also comes with a vehicle warranty of five years or 150,000 kilometers, whichever comes first for the VE and VL variants. Similar to the Navara and Terra, the warranty of the all-new Nissan Almera is the first in its segment.

Thanks to Nissan’s Emotional Geometry design language applied to the whole family, the Almera no longer looks like a Philippine Toad. Not only does the new design incorporate the distinctive corporate identity V-motion grille, but it has its own signature boomerang-shaped LED headlamps and tail lamps, LED Daytime Running Lamps, LED fog lamps, kick-up C-pillars, and a floating roof that resembles its more upscale brethren in N-Sport trim. The new instrument cluster now incorporates the 7-inch TFT Meter with Integrated Drive-Assist Display that we first experienced with the North American market Nissan Kicks that has multiple displays from the digital tachometer to infotainment details and travel information.

Other noteworthy interior updates include Nissan’s “Gliding Wing” instrument panel design, Zero-Gravity-inspired semi bucket sport seats in black leather with contrast stitching, and the excellent D-shaped steering wheel with hands-free, meter, and voice recognition controls. The mid-range variants actually use soft-touch Ivory dashboard trim instead of black so it also feels special with reduced standard equipment.

The stylish passenger cabin features a high-quality design and solid craftsmanship. The central “floating” infotainment system provides convenience and seamless connectivity with an 8-inch Advanced Touchscreen Display with Apple CarPlay and good full sounding 6-speakers, remote keyless entry and push-button ignition, toggleable Idle Stop System to further save fuel and emissions, Automatic Climate Control, 60/40-split fold-down rear seat with ISOFIX mounts, 12-volt DC power outlet and 3 USB ports (2-charge only).

The all-new 2022 Nissan Almera VL N-Sport is a wonderful subcompact sedan that’s very affordable, comfortable, and full-featured. I highly recommend it, in fact at the moment, it is the very best in its class despite some compromises to help manage retail costs. You will not feel short-changed at all though, on the contrary, you will feel satisfied with the excellent value for money and its daily reward of excellent driving and/or riding experience.

 

Specification – 2022 Nissan Almera VL N-Sport

Engine: Inline-3

Location: Front, Transverse

Displacement: 999 cc

Cylinder block: Cast Aluminum

Cylinder head: Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, Atkinson-Cycle, Mirror Bore Coating Technology

Fuel Injection: Multipoint Fuel Injection, Intercooled Turbo with Electronic Wastegate

Max power: 99 bhp @ 5000 rpm

Max torque: 112 lb-ft @ 2400-4000 rpm (118 lb-ft @ 2400-4000 rpm for 5-Speed Manual Transmission)

Transmission: D-Step Logic Control Xtronic CVT with Sport Mode, Front-wheel drive

Front suspension: Independent MacPherson Strut, twin tube shock absorbers with anti-roll bar

Rear suspension: Torsion-Beam, twin tube shock absorbers with anti-roll bar

Fuel Capacity: 35 liters (9.25 gallons)

Drag Coefficient: .28 Cd

Trunk Capacity: 482 liters

Ground Clearance: 135 mm

L x W x H: 4530 mm x 1740 mm x 1460 mm

Wheelbase: 2620 mm

Brakes: Front 10.02-inch (254 mm) ventilated discs with 1-piston calipers / Rear 8-inch (203 mm) drums, ABS, VDC, EBD, & BA.

Wheels: 16” x 6J Multi-spoke Two-Tone Aluminum Alloys

Tires: P205/55R16 91V Bridgestone Ecopia EP300

Weight: (kerb) 1103 kg. (2427 lbs.)

0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 9.9 seconds

Top Speed (mph): 196 km/h (122 mph)

Fuel Mileage: 5.3L/100km Overall

Price as tested: PhP 1,098,000.00 (additional PhP 15,000.00 for the Pearl White variant)

C! RATING 9.5/10

+The most handsome in its class, surprisingly peppy, comprehensive safety suite, very comfortable, exponentially better than its predecessors in every way, very efficient, good fit and finish.

-No Rear climate control vents, No Cruise Control,  No Wireless Phone Charger, Screen Display not as sharp as other upscale Nissan vehicles with similar systems.

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