2003 Nissan Almera SXE dCI 136 2.2 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland
Brilliant fast, reliable, well-equipped hatch
Headlight assembly collapsed... known fault with the car for which a Nissan recall was issued.
Rear brake caliper seized after five-and-a-half years, 72,000 miles. And not having been driven for three weeks!!
Radio aerial sheared off when I was trying to remove it.
CD stuck in player.
I absolutely loved this car, and kept it for about four and a half years. The Renault derived turbodiesel was very smooth and torquey, and quiet for a diesel I thought. Being a 2.2 litre engine seemed to give it a little more flexibility than some other competing 1.9 or 2.0 diesels, even if the figures don't necessarily suggest it. Performance on the motorway was outstanding, overtaking very easy, and the car was capable of cruising comfortably in excess of 70mph without feeling strained (100mph = around 3000rpm).
Being the SXE, the amount of equipment was excellent, especially the integrated sat nav. Very comfortable semi-sports seats, nicely weighted steering, and slick, positive six-speed gearbox.
Fuel economy was good, if not the best for a diesel. Motorway driving gave up to 60mpg if driven carefully, mid 40s if driven more enthusiastically. Over the 45,000 miles I drove, I averaged just about 40mpg across all types of driving. Car was serviced at local independent dealer every 10,000 miles or so for a very reasonable price, never had any reason to take the car back to Nissan. Never used any oil apart from scheduled changes, and very little black smoke compared to some diesels.
Only real criticisms were that the rear legroom is tight for adults, and the ride can be crashy if the car is fully loaded, as the rear suspension seemed to have slightly too little travel.
If Nissan still made a car like this I would have had no hesitation buying another, sadly they don't. The Almera generally has a bit of a reputation as reliable but boring, however, I found the SXE to be great to drive, very very fast, and good looking with the standard body kit, spoiler and alloy wheels.
Needless to say, Nissan generally have a reputation for building very reliable cars, and this was no exception, nothing serious ever went wrong.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th August, 2009
Excellent review - the reviewer highlights all the best aspects of this seriously underrated car. I own a 2004 SXE and am extremely pleased with it so far. It is great to look at, easy to drive, powerful and well equipped. Only done 30k miles so I'm looking forward to lots more dynamic but comfortable driving.
It's not a Renault or Renault derived engine. It's a Nissan VDI unit.