Last Chance To Buy: Nissan Almera

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Indy Lifestyle Online

When's it going?

The Almera is actually long gone, officially in 2005, although they were still being registered in 2006. However, in all the excitement surrounding the launch of the phenomenally successful Quasqui, everyone forgot that the Almera ever existed. It was that sort of car: didn't have much going for it apart from utter reliability and practicality, which is why you should probably still buy one.



What's good about it?

Better to drive than to look at. The hatchback in particular is forgettable and, compared with Golfs and Focuses, isn't as sexy. Loads of kit and space, plus a nice cabin. Ultra reliable and useful for small families, and great value. It's fuss-free, with very little body roll through corners. There's a nimbleness to it too, though that goes when loaded.

Engines include a 114bhp 1.8-litre and 136bhp 2.0-litre for the petrol units, while the two diesels are both 2.2s, but with 110bhp or 134bhp output. The diesels are the best bet for high-speed load-lugging. SE adds air-con, while SE2 gets alloys and a CD-player. Powered rear windows and CD changer are standard on the SE+. The compact people-carrier badged as the Almera Tino is also very underrated.



What's bad about it?

It's not a Golf really. Compared with many rivals, it never had the interior space, wasn't as nice to drive, or as well refined. The petrols are not that economical, or that refined, and become noisy when pressed.

Depreciation has been quite severe over the years, so not the best place to put a lot of money, although the models that are around can be bought at a decent discount. Overall, then, being dull to look at and drive seems to have been its biggest offence. Oh, apart from the disastrous launch when it was promoted as the car that Nissan's rivals don't want you to drive. So no one did.



How much?

There aren't many nearly new Almeras in circulation as most dealers got rid of them. However, Nissan Southend (01702 478880) had a 2006 1.5SX with just 1,800 miles at £7495, previously over £11,000 new. A company called Autozone (0845 0944843) claimed to have a new, unregistered 1.5S three-door at £6,995, down from £10,600.



Any snags?

Reliability hasn't been a big issue, just isolated problems, such as airbag lights staying on. There was a problem on pre-2002 cars with rear-seat belt buckles, and stalling. More worrying in a family vehicle was material on front seats coming away, leaving metal exposed. By now, most should have been sorted by dealers, however.

Specifications

Launched: 1995

Engine sizes: 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0, 2.0D, 2.2TD

Performance: 2.2 TD (108) top speed 108mph, 0-60mph 11.4 seconds

Economy: 47.9mpg

Safety: NCAP, 4 stars

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