The first Nissan Almera rolled off the production line late in 1995, as replacement for the Nissan Sunny, a nameplate which had been in use for nearly 30 years. It was mostly identical to the N15 Nissan Pulsar sold in Japan, except with different trim and petrol engine range.
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.