Nissan has launched its second model its eco-car line-up for the Thai market. Known as the Almera, it is also the first sedan eco-car in Thailand. The Almera name may not be familiar to Malaysians but it has been used on Nissan models for a long time in Europe (in Malaysia, it was known as the Pulsar which was sold in the 1980s). However, while the name is new, the model is actually the new Sunny in some markets (click here for our earlier article on the launch of the new Sunny).
The Almera has fresh new styling which appears to share the lines of the Teana, a much larger model. It’s an energetic streamlined look which Nissan says resembles human muscles. The overall dimensions are large for a car in this class, certainly larger than the old Sunny that was sold here between 1983 and 1996. The overall length is 4425 mm while the width is 1695 mm and the roof is at 1500 mm, with a generous wheelbase of 2600 mm.
Aerodynamic efficiency, being important for fuel efficiency and overall performance, has been pushed down to 0.29 Cd while the kerb weight of the lightest version is under 1,000 kgs (962 kgs to be exact).
Nissan’s ‘PURE DRIVE’ technology has been used in the Almera to ensure sustainable mobility and fuel efficiency, and Nissan claims that the fuel consumption is as good as 20 kms/litre with low carbon dioxide emissions from the tailpipe.
Only one engine is specified for the Almera (probably other sizes will come later) and this is the HR12DE 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine. Its power output is 58 kw/79 ps at 6000 rpm and maximum torque is 106 Nm at 4400 rpm. Power transmission to the front wheels goes through an XTRONIC-CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), the same type of transmission as found in the Sylphy, X-Trail, Teana and Murano.
The engine also comes with an auto-stop feature when the car is stopped for some time. This intelligent system, common in many models sold in Europe, makes a notable contribution to fuel economy since a lot of fuel is wasted during idling at traffic lights. It is a system that is commonly used in hybrids to maximize fuel economy.
The interior makes full use of the long wheelbase to give a spacious cabin. It is 1828 mm long and the 636-mm knee room for rear passengers is said to be comparable to larger models. Equipment levels are high but these will differ in different markets, depending on what the distributors want to offer.
The Almera meets Nissan’s high safety standards and its crashworthiness can meet the UN Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE)’s R94 and R95 regulations. As with other Nissan models, occupant protection is assured with the ‘Zone Body Concept’ that assigns the front and rear of the structure as crushable zones to absorb the impact while the central structure is designed as a ‘restraint zone’ to protect passengers in the cabin. Seatbelts and airbags are, of course, standard fitment and ABS, EBD and Brake Assist are also available.

In Thailand, prices for the new Almera start from 429,000 baht (about RM43,570) and go up to 599,000 baht (about RM60,840). 

These days, whatever is offered in Thailand is most likely to also appear in Malaysia, more so if it is made there as well since the AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area) agreement allows export of vehicles to other ASEAN countries at no import duty. In other words, a model made in Thailand (or Indonesia or Malaysia or any ASEAN country) is treated as if it is made in the country it is exported to. Of course, excise duties are a different matter… and not covered by the AFTA agreement – and Malaysia’s has imposed high excise duties.
Anyway, the appearance of the Almera in Thailand should mean we should be seeing it in Malaysia before long. As it’s already nearing the end of the year, it seems unlikely that Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) will want to launch the model in 2011 so sometime in 2012 is more likely.
Whether the name will be Almera or Sunny depends on the marketing strategy of Nissan. Use of the Sunny name may have some value because it is remembered as a reliable and economical car, so popular that ETCM found it justified to keep the same model in production for 13 years. However, there are also those who may feel that ‘Sunny’ is an old name, associated with fathers and even grandfathers – and young people often prefer not to drive the ‘same’ car their parents drove. For this reason, Nissan may use the Almera name in Malaysia to have a fresh new offering and avoid such perceptions by the new generation of buyers.

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