Nissan is topping its recently revised Almera range with a new performance diesel version named SXE with 136PS of grunt, a six-speed gearbox, electronic stability programme and DVD satellite navigation system. It’s priced at £14,500 with three-doors or £15,250 with five.
Nissan’s new dCi engine gives the company an even more comprehensive diesel line-up. Sitting alongside the current 110PS 2.2 Di engine, still offered in the Almera SE and SVE, the new 136 dCi develops full power at 4000 rpm and 304 Nm of torque at just 2000 rpm. With a 0-62 time of 9.2 seconds, this engine will make the Almera SXE the fastest car in the current Nissan range – until the 350Z, of course – as well as being the quickest diesel in its class … if you don’t count the £3085 more expensive Golf GT TDI 150, that is.
Despite this power, the Almera dCi SXE is as economical as you’d expect of a diesel. The 2.2 dCi 136, which is mated with the 6-speed manual gearbox from the Primera, returns 47.9 mpg on the combined cycle and produces a CO2 mass emissions figure of 161g/km. Company car drivers will be pleased to hear that the BIK banding remains at 18% (including 3% diesel penalty), rising to a mere 19% for the 2003/4 tax year. And if you get free fuel for private use, the benefit charge for this will soon be linked to your car’s CO2 figure – more reason to drive diesel, preferably an Almera SXE of course.
The new range topping SXE not only features a powerful new dCi engine, it’s also available with a 1.8-litre 116PS petrol unit. Both come with all the standard equipment of the Almera SE including driver’s, passenger and side airbags, active front headrests, anti-lock brakes, a trip computer, electric windows and climate control… plus some special SXE gear. Headlining the list is a 7" colour centre display monitor with DVD satellite navigation system which will direct you all the way from Sunderland, where the Almera’s built, to Seville, where it isn’t. And the SXE’s standard electronic stability programme should ensure you get there more safely – it works via an enhanced ABS system and traction control to increase stability by automatically controlling brake pressure and engine output. Finally, the SXE gets added show to match its go from 16" alloy wheels, a leather trimmed steering wheel, graphite seat trim, body-coloured side sills, a rear roof spoiler and a dash of chrome to finish off the exhaust pipe.