Nissan rekindles Almera with new Golf rival

Published: 08 April 2010

Nissan plans to re-enter some of the heartland markets it departed with the loss of the Almera and Primera, CAR can reveal. It's a U-turn from a strategy that saw Nissan desert mainstream models in favour of crossovers and niche cars such as the Qashqai and Note.

In an interview at the signing of the Daimler-Renault-Nissan cooperation yesterday, the Japanese firm's global product chief told CAR a new Golf rival to replace the unloved Almera was underway.

'There's a live, upstream project,' Andy Palmer confirmed. 'But it has to be different from the Golf and that's a challenge.'

Uh-oh. Another weird Nissan!

Palmer pointed to boldly designed cars such as the Juke and Qashqai to show how innovative Nissan could be and said they captured the avantgarde design ethic that buyers now demand. Expect a similarly bold solution with the newcomer to rival the Focus/Astra set. But Nissan's new mid-sized hatchback is unlikely to be ready until nearer the middle of the decade.

Nissan had dropped the Almera and Primera in Europe after disappointing sales drove it away from the core C- and D-sectors. It responded with new niche products, such as the successful Qashqai and Note, offering MPV and SUV flexibility in more car-like packages.

When asked why the new Micra was so conservative where the Juke was so radical, Palmer defended its safer design and pointed out it was a world car operating in a segment where many buyers wanted a simpler offering. 'Nissan has a lot of stretch, that's one of our strengths,' he added.

So plenty of new Nissans then...

You bet. The company wants to be in 90% of the world's market segments but currently competes in around 84%. That's a lot more niche – and mainstream – models to come.

Don't, however, expect to see a Nissan-badged Renault Twizy electric car any time soon. 'We have talked about doing it in markets where Renault isn't represented, but it doesn't make much sense at present,' said Palmer. 'The same is true of our Nissan Leaf EV. Renault won't be taking that platform from us.'

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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