Used Nissan Almera
British buyers got their first taste of the fruitful Nissan Almera range back in 1995 and it was introduced in order to give its manufacturer a better chance of appealing to a younger audience. The Almera definitely looked the part, with its unusual hatchback styling helping it to stand out from its European rivals.
A selection of petrol engines and a diesel powerplant were available from day one, with a saloon iteration arriving in 1996 to back up the three and five door models already on offer. 1998 saw the Almera receive a bit of a revision, but it wasn't until 2000 that the full second generation of this car arrived.
Nissan chose to shift the design of the new Almera away from its native Japan and so you get a much more Euro-friendly model the second time around. A wide selection of engines and six different trim levels were introduced. There was even a facelift in 2002, although the Almera eventually ended its production run in 2006, with the final new models being registered and sold in the UK in 2007.
It had been cutting edge and affordable in its time and remains a good choice for those who want a family car which is actually quite fun to drive. Not all Nissans are this inspired, but that's what makes the Almera for sale special.
Bang for your buck
The first generation used Nissan Almera for sale was considered a little underequipped when it was new, so more than a decade later it looks decidedly Spartan if you choose the base level trim. Stepping things up to the Si, GX or SLX will get you a bit more kit, including things like a driver's airbag and central locking.
If you choose a post-2000 second generation Almera then things are much better on the inside. There are lots of useful features built into the car, from over 20 storage spaces to plenty of cup holders and even a place to pop your sunglasses.
There's plenty of room in the boot for luggage and it outclasses costlier rivals like the VW Golf in this respect, so it is definitely practical for long journeys.
What you'll pay
The first generation used Nissan Almera has just about entered old banger levels of affordability and if you're willing to take in a high mileage option you can spend from £300. This is a reliable range, but be aware that older iterations will invariably require a bit more TLC from time to time.
A more reasonable purchase might be a late model from 2005 or 2006 and you can spend from around £3500 to nab yourself one that has only covered 30-50,000 miles from new.
Diesels will be a little costlier than petrol engine options, as will those with better levels of trim, although the difference is negligible when you're looking at cars of this value.
What to check
The biggest problems the second hand Nissan Almera can suffer come in the form of faded and damaged interior upholstery and other elements. They tend to be mechanically sound whatever the age, although approve used examples will of course give you the best chance of netting a model in which you can have confidence.
The basic bits and bobs you'll need to keep the Nissan Almera going aren't any more expensive than they would be for any other family car. However, the integral components can seem a bit steep.
£390 will be charged for a replacement exhaust system, while an alternator sits at roughly £325. Headlamps are £90 apiece and if you need to get a new starter motor you'll be left with a bill for £185.
These costs would be more worrying were it not for the fact that the Almera is so reliable and thus unlikely to falter.
How it drives
The ride comfort of the used Nissan Almera is thankfully not compromised by its surprisingly sporty handling and setup. The second generation benefits from a stiffer chassis and while the 1.8 litre petrol is a decent goer, the turbo diesel might be a better option since it offers good performance and fuel economy in one neat package, as long as you're willing to deal with a little turbo lag when trying to accelerate quickly.