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Nissan Micra's sedan sibling to be called Almera

All-new Nissan Micra-based sedan confirmed as Almera ahead of 2012 Aussie launch

13 Oct 2011

NISSAN Motor Co Australia has confirmed that its forthcoming Micra-based light sedan will be called the Almera when the all-new model arrives here in the first half of 2012.

In a statement released this week, the Australian subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturer revealed that ‘Almera’ would be one of four all-new model launches in its next financial year – the period from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013 – with the others being the Leaf electric vehicle, Patrol SUV and a “new small car”.

The latter is the new-generation Tiida replacement which Nissan will sell in Australia as either the Pulsar or Versa from early 2013.

Up until now, Almera was essentially the European export-market name for the previous Pulsar, which was discontinued here in 2006 to make way for the Tiida – a model that has failed to ignite the passions of Australian car-buyers and sales of which are down 41 per cent this year, with just 2593 new registrations to the end of September.

However, the Almera name made a return this week with the Micra-based sedan’s launch in Thailand – complete with full specifications and a promotional video (see above) – and in so doing became the third moniker attached to the model in various markets across the world.

The same vehicle is known as the Versa in the United States, and the Sunny in China.

Nissan Australia general manager of corporate communications, Jeff Fisher, has confirmed to GoAuto that Almera will be the name assigned to the forthcoming light-sized four-door when it launches here in the second quarter of next year.

“This is the V platform, the Micra-based sedan,” he said. “It’s a much larger car than the current Micra – the same platform, but different body completely and more complete than a ‘Micra sedan’.”

While the Almera nameplate may have some resonance with Australian buyers, Mr Fisher said the decision to use it had “more to do with global alignment as well”.

“Almera is a Nissan global name – one of the names on the shelf that we are able to use – so it has recognition in other parts of the world maybe not so much here, but certainly it’s got the potential to do so,” he said.

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“The reason why we want to differentiate it from the Micra nameplate is because of its dimensions. It is a different car, and will have a different engine and so on, so there is a point of difference about it, although it is still based on the V platform.”

The V (for ‘Versatile’) platform is Nissan and alliance partner Renault’s new global front-drive architecture first seen here with the fourth-generation ‘K13’ Micra launched in December last year.

Mr Fisher said it was still too early to confirm powertrain and model line-up for the Australian-spec Almera, although his confirmation of a “different engine” indicates it is likely to drop the local Micra’s 56kW/100Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder – as also seen on the Thai Almera – and should emerge with a version of the 75kW/136Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder used at the higher end of the Aussie Micra range.

An 81kW/148Nm 1.6-litre engine is also in service overseas.

As GoAuto has reported, the new-generation light sedan was shown at the New York auto show in April after being first seen last December at the Guangzhou motor show in China.

The overseas-spec Almera measures 4495mm long, 1695mm wide and 1445mm high, and rides on a 2535mm wheelbase. The Micra, in comparison, is 3780mm long, 1665mm wide, 1525mm high and has a 2435mm wheelbase.

As GoAuto reported exclusively in August, Nissan Australia chief executive Dan Thompson revealed there were three nameplates under consideration for the light-sized four-door – Versa, Sunny and one other moniker (now known to be Almera) – and that the confirmed shortlist for the next-generation C-segment small-car series was Pulsar, Versa and Tiida.

With Nissan Australia this week officially referring to its crucial next C-segment car as “new small car” – dropping the previous ‘Tiida replacement’, or TR, moniker – the two names left in the race, now that Versa is ruled out for the Australian Micra-based sedan, is Versa and Pulsar.

Both the Tiida replacement and the Almera will be crucial models in Nissan Australia’s quest to become the top full-import brand by the end of its next financial year, holding a 10 per cent market share overall and a 10 per cent share in key segments, including light and small cars.

Nissan sold 964 Micras last month for a 10.2 per cent share of the light-car segment, but overall it holds only a 7.2 per cent share for the calendar year thus far. The company expects the Almera to play a vital role in lifting that to 10 per cent in 2012.

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