Owner Review

2012 Nissan Almera ST review

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I borrowed this car for a week on the Car Next Door car sharing app while the money pit was getting some work done on it. I needed a cheap run around that was big enough for two child seats and my work gear.

This is a model that I admit I have never really taken any notice of, but after driving the car for a week, it has really gown on me. I am so impressed I thought I would do a review.

The first thing I noticed was the size of the interior. Looking at the car from the outside it looks like a small sedan, but when you look inside it is more like a medium sedan. Sure, it is quite narrow but it is very long. Front and rear legroom is Holden Commodore-like. Also has a very high roof line so plenty of head room.

The boot is big too. It's a small lid but very deep and can swallow heaps of stuff. Unfortunately there are no folding rear seats, which is because they have put the fuel tank behind the seats to allow for the deep boot.

The 5-speed manual is okay. Shifting action is not exactly sporty but easy enough to use and the clutch is light. Steering is also light with little resistance or road feel. Brakes are quite touchy and took me a little bit of time to get used to, but the front disks and rear drums do the job easily and feel strong enough.

The engine is a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder. It feels quite perky in first and second gear but that’s where the torque ends, winding up slowly in third and fourth to traffic speed. When it gets there though, it will happily sit at traffic or freeway speed. The engine feels stronger than a 1.5-litre - I would have guessed it was a 2-litre.

Not sure about fuel figures but compared to my normal daily driver - an SS Commodore - it feels like a fuel miser.

Now if you are approaching the turnoff to your favourite bit of twisty road, keep driving because there is absolutely nothing sporty about the way this car drives at all. The 15-inch steel wheels wrapped in 185’s are the weakest link here. If I owned the car, the first thing I would do is find some wheels that can accommodate wider rubber.

There is plenty of body roll and suspension travel, but the American-style suspension makes for a comfortable ride.

There has been no attempt to make the interior feel anything less than budget. There are hard plastics on every surface and the switchgear looks like it's from 2002 and not 2012. The steering wheel, although also cheap and plasticky, is quite chunky and feels pretty good in the hand.

There is a double DIN Bluetooth radio, but I couldn’t figure out how to pair it with my phone. You also get a single disk CD player and steering wheel controls. The second thing I would do is replace this unit with a double DIN touch screen and add a reversing camera. The double DIN is up high on the dash, which is ideal.