It’s a peculiar place, the local B-segment sedan market. The heartland of the automotive scene in Malaysia, these small, ungainly-looking booted hatches regularly stirs the emotions of the buying public in a way no supercar can ever hope to match. It’s a highly competitive segment, with no margin for error, and your lead in the marketplace only lasts until the next time your competitors are refreshed.
That’s the situation in which the Nissan Almera currently finds itself. Once providing unbeatable value – prices start at just RM66,827 for the base E manual variant, topping off at RM79,837 for the VL – at a time when its rivals pushed for greater sophistication at premium prices, it has suddenly seen its share in the market eaten up, with both the new Toyota Vios and Honda City now featuring stripped-out, bargain-basement variants of their own.
To try to make up some of that ground, the company is pushing in the other direction with, ahem, the Nissan Almera Nismo Performance Package, aiming to inject some fun and sporting pedigree to its best-selling model, as well as to maintain its considerable foothold in the market. Is this the perfect shot in the arm for the Almera, or is it just a bridge too far for Nissan’s fledgling performance brand?