What's the used Nissan Almera saloon like?
The idea of a Nissan Almera trying to compete on equal terms with a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf is a bit like Stirling Moss pitching up at Silverstone, hoping to have a crack at the current Formula One hotshots. However, if you can live with all the pensioner jokes, the Almera doesn't make a bad second-hand buy.
First, the downsides. It's cramped by class standards and rear room is particularly poor, although the boot is a decent size. Refinement is lousy, with lots of road, wind and engine noise making its way into the cabin. The handling is reasonable, but while the ride can cope with smooth roads, its composure soon disappears on rough surfaces.
On the other hand, security is impressive and safety is good, with a four-star Euro NCAP rating. Build quality is sound, even on original cars from 2000, and all post-autumn 2002 face-lift models come with decent kit.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Nissan Almera saloon?
Nissan, like most Japanese manufacturers, enjoys a well earned reputation for reliability. So, you can expect an Almera to run and run.
Pretty much all you need to check is that the appropriate recall work has been done. There haven't been too many, but there was a major one that affected the petrol engines and it's important that this work was carried out. Issued on January 29 2002 and affecting cars built between March 2000 and the end of July 2001, it concerned the crankshaft and camshaft. If not rectified, it could cause engines to stall and, in the worst-case scenario, prevent them from restarting.
In June 2004, diesel engines built up to the end of 2002 were recalled to have possible camshaft problems rectified, and all models built between December 2000 and September 2001 were called into dealers to fix a possible handbrake problem.
What are the most common problems with a used Nissan Almera saloon?
Is a used Nissan Almera saloon reliable?
What used Nissan Almera saloon will I get for my budget?
How much does it cost to run a Nissan Almera saloon?
If you see a large queue snaking around the corner, you can be pretty sure it's not made up of punters eager to snap up second-hand Nissan Almera. Still, that lack of desirability means low prices - there are bargains to be had.
The biggest engine, the 134bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel, promises 47.9mpg, whereas at the other end of the scale the small 97bhp 1.5-litre should be good for 42.8mpg.
Even having work carried out by a main Nissan dealer need not be too dear because their hourly rates are about as cheap as they come. The work will be cheaper still at an independent garage, where the rates are very competitive for the class.
Which used Nissan Almera saloon should I buy?
Later models came with only one engine: a 97bhp 1.5-litre petrol. However, there's plenty of choice if you go for an older model. With fuel economy of 42.8mpg, the 1.5 is particularly attrcative if you spend most of your motoring life in town, but the 1.8-litre petrol pulls better in the lower gears - although its long fifth gear means it's ultimately not so flexible on the motorway.
The diesel is a 2.3-litre direct-injection turbo and comes in two versions, with 110bhp or 134bhp. The more powerful unit has noticeably better low-down performance, yet the weaker engine is perfectly okay.
There was a face-lift in late 2002, with all models getting air-con, remote central locking, electric front windows and a CD player. Stretch to an SVE and you get a leather-trimmed steering wheel, alloy wheels and an electric sunroof. But an SE, with parking sensors, electric rear windows and climate control gives you everything you need.
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