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January 1, 2024

Review: 2024 Nissan Almera VL Turbo


In a stroke of genius, Nissan rid the fourth-generation Almera of its ugly-as-sin styling and added a dose of sportiness to transform this forgettable sub-compact sedan into one of our segment favorites. We loved it so much that we named it one of our Top 5 Picks in 2021. Fast-forward to today and we have the updated Almera. Now, I don’t know about you, but I feel like with this update, it’s managed to both take a step forward and a step back.

Let’s start with the styling. The Almera’s sharp, angular styling was so on point that designers didn’t need to mess with anything. It had the curb appeal two years ago, and it would have had the same effect today if not for the new schnoz. I understand that all this is part of Nissan’s new styling direction, but so far, I’m not impressed. It works on larger vehicles and crossovers, but on something as small as this, it just makes the entire car look front heavy. Basically, it’s the same problem the suppository-styled Almera had before.



It's a shame, because the nose aside, the rest of the car still looks sleek. For 2024, the factory-installed aero kit’s gone and, in its place, the VL is available with a two-tone motif that extends to the side mirrors. Sure, it’s a bit passe style-wise, but props to Nissan for taking chances. And when you pair it with the new Moon Pearl Gray color, it takes some attention away from that horrendous front-end.

Getting inside requires some degree of care as taller people might find themselves hitting the A-pillar. Once inside, it’s actually a pleasant place to spend time in. Hard plastics abound, but at least the dashboard looks good. Plus, there’s careful placement of soft surfacing; the switches and controls are also as solid as they come. For 2024, the white contrasting elements have been replaced by less controversial and easier to clean blue ones.



The seat material is leather, but take note: it isn’t Grade A stuff. Still, the front seats are supportive and offer enough adjustments. Taken together with the tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and finding the right driving position becomes easy enough. Towards the back, the rear bench’s upright, but spacious. The headrests have been molded in and there are no rear vents, but thankfully there’s an arm rest at the center. Plus, the seatbacks fold down in a 60/40 split for extra versatility.

For this update, Nissan has resolved one glaring omission: they’ve finally added an arm rest between the front seats. It’s a small detail for sure (and one that Nissan doesn’t even highlight in their brochure), but it makes the commuting experience more pleasant. Plus, it opens to reveal a small compartment. This means you can keep small items away from prying eyes when you park in the ghettos.



When it comes to on-board tech, the Almera’s still one of the best in the segment. The 8-inch infotainment system doesn’t look that different, but for 2024, they’ve finally added support for Android Auto. The Almera VL’s also the first model in Nissan Philippines’ line-up to benefit from NissanConnect Services—a suite of smart telemetry systems which can all be accessible via a paired smartphone. For this drive, we didn’t have the opportunity to sample it in detail, but during previous encounters, it worked well enough. Then, you have a reconfigurable 7-inch instrument cluster display. Using the left bank of steering wheel controls, it makes personalizing functions, including the various Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, quick. They’re no more than one or two menus deep.

Oh, and speaking of the NIM features, this car’s got the basic suite of Intelligent Forward Collision Warning with Intelligent Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic High Beam, and two features you don’t find in the more expensive Kicks e-Power: Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. It works well on local roads with not one false alarm or phantom braking. This is on top of a 360-degree camera with moving object detection (no other sensors) and tire pressure sensors.



For this update, Nissan has kept the services of its turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine. Despite the presence of forced induction, don’t expect it to be a pocket rocket. Instead, it’s been tuned for everyday usability. Peak torque—the most in the sub-compact class—comes in early (2,400 rpm) and stays there until it drops off past 4,000 rpm. On the other hand, because it only makes 100 horsepower, jabbing the accelerator won’t make the speedo climb any faster. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still capable of hitting triple digit speeds, but it’s more about getting there at a sensible pace as opposed to stopwatch times.

Now, whether it’s the novelty of this engine wearing off or whatever, but I don’t remember the power delivery to be this on-off. Right now, I find the throttle engagement frisky making crawling in stop-and-go traffic a tad difficult. The engine also tends to sound gruff, but at least it does settle down when it’s warmed up. There’s still some coarseness, but it’s smooth nonetheless.



Despite the hate directed towards the CVT, the gearbox’s well-matched to the engine. It responds promptly to driver inputs and makes the most of the available power and torque. There are no paddle shifters, but a built-in shift logic does the job of eliminating the rubber band feeling common to these kinds of transmissions. Nissan’s also managed to equip cruise control too so long drives are now less of a chore.

Weirdly enough, despite the standard idle start/stop system, the 2024 Almera’s fuel economy has gone down, registering just 9.9 km/L this time around. Sure, the traffic’s heavier now than it was in 2022, but mind you, with a 35-liter tank and a diet of strict 95 to 98 octane (that’s default Petron XCS by default for you), it could make the more frequent trips to the gas stations a more expensive ordeal.



Other aspects of the Almera’s driving dynamics are mostly likeable for as long as you don’t expect it to drive as sharply as its looks. The ride is definitely a Nissan in that it’s soft and forgiving even when passing over ravaged pavement. Naturally, this affects the handling, making it feel tippy with noticeable lean during hard cornering. The light steering also doesn’t offer any sense of directness, but again, this is a commuter sedan, so prioritizing ride over handling is forgivable. The biggest issue here is the raucous tire noise which drowns out the cabin in all but extremely smooth asphalt.

As far as updates go, the 2024 Nissan Almera doesn’t really move the goalpost. They’ve harped up its connected services a lot, but to the average Filipino, myself included, this isn’t a dealbreaker. Instead, I tend to look at this exercise as about putting in the missing pieces of a puzzle that pundits clamored for in the first place—things like the front arm rest and cruise control to name a few. In that regard, this sub-compact has delivered. Sadly, these updates also come with a face only a handful would consider an improvement.

2024 Nissan Almera VL Turbo

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Bottom Line
Pros Well-equipped, comfy ride, excellent infotainment system.
Cons Frisky throttle, facelift looks like a step back.
TL;DR Nissan puts in the missing puzzle pieces with this update. Too bad, they gave it a face only a mother could love.
Ownership
Year Introduced 2023
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Sub-compact Sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.0
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I3
Maximum Output (PS @ rpm) 100 @ 5,000
Maximum Torque (Nm @ rpm) 152 @ 2,400-4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / ~95
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy (km/L) @ Ave. Speed (km/h) 9.90 km/L @ 15 km/h
Fuel Tank Size (L) 35
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,495
Width (mm) 1,740
Height (mm) 1,460
Wheelbase (mm) 2,620
Curb Weight (kg) 1,103
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Parking Brake Hand-Type
Tires Bridgestone Ecopia EP300 205/55 R 16 V (f & r)
Recommended Tire Pressure (PSI) 36 front, 33 rear
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No
Parking Camera Yes, 360-degree
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Advanced Driver Assist System Intelligent Emergency Braking
Intelligent Forward Collision Warning
Lane Departure Warning
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Blind Spot Warning
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Auto High Beam
Fog Lamps Front (LED)
Light Operation Automatic
Wiper Operation Variable Intermittent
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic, Manual
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
2nd Row 60/40 Split-Fold, w/ Armrest
3rd Row No
Sunroof No
Multi-Information Display / Size Yes, 7-inch
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Automatic
Audio System Stereo
USB Type A
Bluetooth
Wireless Charger Front
Infotainment Display / Size 8-inch
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
NissanConnect Services (Telematics)
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

9 comments:

  1. Nissan jatco CVT ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž

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    Replies
    1. Somehow I kinda expected the first comment to be something along these lines.

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    2. Stupid Nissan for getting rid of the manual.

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    3. Jatco 7 is not too shabby. Its the same tranny used in the suzuki swift and mitsu mirage. Quite ok in my opinion.

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    4. yah it's what nissan cvt are known for ๐Ÿ˜€

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    5. That's only an issue with early 2000s-mid 2010s XTronic CVTs mated to high-torque engines in US-market Nissans. This model has been in the market since 2019 in other countries, we would have heard about CVT problems by now. This is still the best subcompact sedan in the market, certainly better than the thirsty, high-revving, ugly City or the boring and common Vios. Nope, no CCCs, not interested.

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    6. Turbo GDI will have problems like LSPI and dirty intake valves, not to mention a shorter lifespan compared to NA engines. Couple that with the notorious jatco CVT, the nissan almera is the worst in the japanese subcompact sedan segment.

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    7. Most modern engines already use direct injection, those would have been a widespread problem by now across all brands & models. This specific Jatco CVT doesn't have any reported design ussue, your outdated view doesn't apply. Also, Nissan PH has a 5 year warranty on all their models, unlike the "reliable" kuno Toyotas and Hondas with a mere 3 year warranty for their ugly, underequipped, gas-guzzling and boring models.

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    8. Uhh yes it is. Did you even do your research? It is a known problem with GDI. It is also worsened if equipped with turbo since it will be prone to LSPI.

      I wouldn't trust a jatco CVT. They f'd up once, why the hell would I trust them if there are other better options.

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