Power came from 1.4 GA14DE and 1.6 GA16DE petrol and 2.0 CD20 diesel engines initially in 1995, but a year into production a 2.0 SR20DE engined GTi was added to the range. The Nissan Almera was ungainly in appearance but beneath its bland exterior lay an excellent chassis which gave perhaps the best ride and handling of any small medium car on sale in Europe. 1.4 and 1.6 models were sold in 3, 4 and 5 door versions, whereas the GTi was 3 door only, differing from the Almera's main competitor, the VW Golf, whose GTi was sold in both 3 and 5 door configurations.
Almost all Almeras sold in the UK were hatchbacks with three or five doors - this was quite different from some other regions such as Ireland, where the saloon version is substantially more commonplace. Specification was good, with all models getting power steering, driver airbag and stereo as standard. As with all Nissans, build quality and reliability were first rate. Phase 2 GTi's with low mileage were rather more sought after, and one can expect to pay up to £2500 for a good example.
Phase 1 (1995-1998)
Flagship models for each engine capacity are as follows:
- 1.4 Si GA14DE
- 1.6 SRi GA16DE
- 2.0 GTi SR20DE (1996 onwards, sold in bodykit and non-bodykit form)
The above all included 'high-spec' bumpers with foglights (Optional on the Si model), alloy wheels from 1996 onwards (Different size and design between Si/SRi 14" and GTi 15"), and rear roof lip spoilers (GTi models sported an integrated brakelight, also spoilers were optional on the Si).
The 2.0 litre GTi had an optional 'aggressive-looking' factory bodykit, with BMW M3-style sideskirts, and front/rear splitters. Non-bodykit models came with a simpler plastic front splitter. The GTi featured uprated suspension, front and rear strut braces and a quicker steering rack.
Phase 2 (1998-2000)
For the phase 2, the front bumpers were re-designed, front splitters were added on the Si/SRi, and the GTi had all-round bodykit as standard (Although it was optional to not have the bodykit), and now all of the lip spoilers had integrated brakelights. The original telescopic radio aerial was moved from the drivers A-pillar to the rear of the roof and was changed to a "bee-sting" type. On the GTi, the phase 2 headlights and front indicators featured a black surround.