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The 2020 Nissan Almera looks like a winner but we might not get the new turbo engine

We are here at the 2019 Thailand International Motor Expo. We have just covered the all-new 2020 Honda City but the City is not the only star attraction here. Just a few weeks earlier, the 2020 Nissan Almera made its regional debut in Thailand.

Like the 2020 Honda City, the all-new 2020 Nissan Almera is also powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine.

However, the Nissan’s three pot engine is quite down on power, making just 100 PS at 5,000 rpm and 152 Nm from 2,400 rpm to 4,000 rpm, versus the City’s 122 PS at 5,500 rpm and 173 Nm at 2,000 – 4,500 rpm.

We are quite certain that the all-new 2020 Nissan Almera will be launched in Malaysia next year, quite possibly in the first half of 2020 but it is left to be seen whether will we get the new turbocharged engine or not.

As mentioned in our coverage for the all-new City, these small capacity turbocharged engines don’t make a lot of power, but are tuned for low CO2 emissions to qualify for lower excise duties under Thailand’s EcoCar II policy, which requires cars to emit no more than 100 g/km of CO2 to qualify.

These Euro specs engines don't come cheap by developing market standards so without tax incentives, prices will go well beyond what’s locally acceptable for a B-segment sedan.

Recall that the current Nissan Almera is already very sparsely equipped, ticking just the basics and it doesn’t even have electronic stability. At its current form, it’s already pushing close to RM 80k.

However unlike the outgoing Honda City, whose current 1.5-litre engine makes 120 PS and thus is still fairly competitive even when put up against the new turbocharged 122 PS three-cylinder engine, the outgoing Nissan Almera’s 1.5-litre makes just 102 PS and 139 Nm – the weakest in the segment.

Without a new (but costlier) engine, the all-new Nissan Almera is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It can only rely on its pretty new body to attract buyers.

Viewed in metal, the all-new Nissan Almera looks even better than the all-new Honda City.

The proportions are better, it looks sportier, and visually, it looks more like a one-class higher C-segment sedan than a B-segment sedan.

This is despite the fact that the Almera is actually smaller than the City.

Inside, the Almera’s interior looks a bit better than the Honda City’s, especially the instrument panel – which is the Honda City’s weakest link.

From our initial impressions, the Almera’s front seats seem to offer better shoulder support. You also sit lower for a sportier driving position, but this may not be appreciated by every buyer.

The cabin materials are also comparable to the Honda City, with soft-touch materials on the dashboard and door panels.

However, as expected, the sportier looking Nissan’s cabin is not as practical or as spacious as the Honda’s, despite having a longer wheelbase.

The Almera’s rear sets’ headrests are not adjustable, and there’s also no centre armrest.

Legroom in the rear, especially the foot weel area, is also a bit tighter than the Honda City due to the front seats lower position.

The tighter rear legroom is also due to the Almera’s thicker padding front seats, which gives better support than the Honda City’s.

However the Nissan Almera fights back by offering more safety features than the Honda City. The Thailand specifications model seen here comes equipped with blind spot monitor, autonomous emergency braking, rear-cross traffic alert, 360-degree camera – all of which are not available in the Honda City.