Taking a look back at the Almera Turbo one year on, let's talk about power. It's always easy to forget that at the heart of this zippy sedan sits a puny but potent, perfected 1.0T engine. More so, it's effectively a miniature sized performance powerplant with 1/4 the potency of its Nissan GTR cousin.
100ps / 152nm / 999cc 3 cylinder turbo / CVT / FWD / 1076kg / 180kmh / Almera VL RM83,888 SST RM79,906 / Almera VLP RM89,888 SST RM85,715 / Almera VLT RM95,888 SST RM91,310
At idle, signature 3 cylinder throb greets you at first introduction. Gently caressing the cabin when stopping by the traffic lights for example. This sensation is definitely detectable but mild and does eventually become unnoticeable with further exposure, maybe by the next couple of stops, just like white noise.
Other than that, in all driving conditions, there's no telling it's a 3 cylinder engine. Not that there's anything bad about being 1 pot short of the common 4, as long as it performs, and this compact HR10DET engine punches above its weight.
The Almera Turbo is energetic especially in the city. There is always dollops of turbo torque available at the squeeze of the throttle, unlike most of its non assisted NA 1.5L competitors, which naturally need some revving to get up to speed.
In this second impression, the 1L turbo still feel potent for what it is, relaxed in operation, boost is immediate and has a flat torque curve throughout. While it's a treat to zip around the city in it, there's no shortage of joy on the highway as well, can nonchalantly hover at 150kmh on windy Karak Highway for example and doesn't feel in any way inadequate for what it represents, in fact it surpasses most expectations.
Overall driving experience is an enjoyable one, better than expected and massively contributed by the modern rigid body for sure, with very decent NVH and ride quality for a B segment product.
Suspension is soft to medium in general, does roll a bit under load, but still well tuned nevertheless. It is surprisingly planted at speed and feels right at home on the highway as it does in the city.
The CVT box may sound like a turn off for some but it can still be a subjective experience based on driver execution. There's no escaping the inherent rubber band sensation especially for heavy footers. But these transmissions have improved and become more direct these days. As long as it is used well within its capability, all is good and tends to reward with an acceleration akin to a higher cc'ed car. The good news is, the Almera Turbo never scream in reluctance even at full throttle, or ever seem like it's trying too hard. It just goes.
Which is where it gets interesting. As talented as the Almera Turbo is in excelling its everyday, real world chores, be it in driveability, power or handling, surpassing expectations even, it is surprisingly conservative whilst climbing Genting Highlands, full uphill acceleration wise.
In my test up the famed mountain driving route, especially through its second sector where the inclines are steeper and there are more hairpins, the Almera Turbo almost always feels a "gear" higher. As if there's a deliberate cap in its acceleration, not because it can't but for some reasons it just won't, where sport mode made little to no difference as it wouldn't kick down to a lower "gear" and there are neither sequential nor paddle shiftting to excrete more juice.
Of course its never meant to be a hot hatch, but the Almera Turbo remains capable at the twisties, even rewarding, especially downhills where its overall lightness and the well tuned chassis really shine.
- Nice noticeable power, immediate, responsive, smooth
- Sweet driveability, handles well, comfortable in the city
- Good seating position and seat adjustability
- No paddle or sequential shifting
- Prefer no nonsense interior over splashes of faux premium
- Spirited hill climbing is its kryptonite