Review: Nissan Almera Tino (2000 – 2006)


2.2 diesel is excellent motorway cruiser. Well built, decently equipped and, among other compact MPVs, a good handler.

Blunted responses of the CVT. Others offer a more versatile, practical cabin.

Recently Added To This Review

8 December 2003

Repeat recall of 108,563 1.8 and 2.0 litre petrol engines built 1998 - 2003 over angle and position sensors which can cause engines to stall and/or fail to re-start. Sensors to be replaced. Read more

25 February 2002

Parking brake may not set properly because of misalignment between ratchet and pawl teeth. Read more

29 January 2002

34,480 Almera and Primera 1.5, 1.6 and 1.8 recalled because engine crankshaft and camshaft position sensors may case engine to stall and not re-start. Read more

Nissan Almera Tino (2000 – 2006): At A Glance

Decent MPV built in Barcelona for European market with Almera underpinnings and Pimera running gear. Handles much better than an Almera.

Nissan Almera and Tino 2003 Road Test

What does a Nissan Almera Tino (2000 – 2006) cost?

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What's the Nissan Almera Tino (2000 – 2006) like to drive?

For 2003, Nissan has made a lot of detail improvements to its handsome Almera hatchbacks. And, since the launch was 300 miles away near the Sunderland factory, thinking of killing two spuggies with one clem, I borrowed an Almera Tino MPV to get me there and back.

First, the 2003 Almeras. At a glance they look similar to the 2002s. But take a second look and you notice that some of the aggression has been taken out of the front by substituting the toothy underbumper grille with mesh, which, of course, also helps keep stones out of the radiator. The lights are now clear rather than obscured polycarbonate. The wheels are bigger. And thats about it until you get inside.

There, the old fashioned dashboard has been ripped right out and replaced by something much more modern with a useful eye-level display at the top so you dont bump into something while youre adjusting the aircon.

Yes, aircon. All 2003 Almeras have it as standard. Plus remote central locking, front electric windows, CD player, outside temperature gauge, five three-point seatbelts, driver and passenger airbags, height adjustable steering wheel. Cabin light dimmer, pollen filter and a luggage compartment net. Not bad for a starter price of £9,995 for the 98PS 1.5, which also offers low 158g/km CO2 emissions for lower VED and company car tax.

Its a bit bland, though. Drives and handles okay with no surprises either nasty or pleasant. The 1.8 has more punch and more feel to it, as it should with 116PS. And the 2.2 litre110PS diesel goes quite well but, loses it a bit in the handling department. By which I mean, as soon as you crack on a bit, the front end suffers from weight transfer and becomes strangely lurchy. This is not a big problem, but by the same token it doesnt qualify the Almera for the same class in the handling stakes as a Focus, Leon or new Corolla.

As the Picasso is to the Xsara the Tino is to the Almera. It actually looks like a mouse the size of an elephant. Though the rear seats slide, tip and remove completely, it isnt the most practical MPV. But, whereas the Almera is only an average handler compared with other hatchbacks, the Tino is one of the best handling small MPVs. And on top of that it can be bought with the usefully grunty 110PS direct-injected chain-cam diesel engine, which is basically the same lump as found under the bonnet of the excellent X-Trail diesel.

Thus equipped, the Tino romps along at 30mph per 1,000 rpm in top, easily cruising at an indicated 90mph and at the same time turning in over 45mpg. Well, thats what I got, anyway. About 5mpg behind a Picasso diesel, but shifting from A to B just a little bit quicker.

If you offer your Nissan dealer loads of extra money (£1,500, actually), hell ask the Barcelona factory to fit Nissans brilliant Birdview navigation system. Now some of these gizmos are a bit controversial because theyre hard to set and difficult to receive instructions from without taking your eyes from the road. Not so in the Tino where it unfolds from a dash-top compartment and gives you two very clear views of where youre going and where to turn. If you do a lot of mileage and need to find a lot of strange places then this is definitely an option to go for, even though £1,500 buys a lot of maps.

The truth is, I liked the Tino a lot more than I liked the Almera. But if anyone asked me what I thought of the Almera, and then, before I could reply, slipped in the aside that theyd just bought one, I wouldnt tell them what I told the woman whose French husband had landed them with a Megane. Put it this way, there isnt much you can buy for the same list price thats significantly better than an Almera. And it is an almost spectacularly good-looking mid-size hatchback.

What have we been asked about the Nissan Almera Tino (2000 – 2006)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

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Bought an unreliable car from a dealer - What should we do?

We bought a Nissan Almera Tino from a dealer for £695. We accept that this isn't a great amount of money, but we expected a decent runner. In the advert it was stated it had done 80,000 miles, but it was 86,500. When we went to look at the car my girlfriend asked if she could have a test drive but he said no because his trader's policy doesn't cover another driver. We bought the car but it has developed lots of faults. The gears crunch when you change, the exhaust blows smoke and the engine uses oil on a weekly basis. I've spoke to the dealer and he says he isn't going to give us a refund or pay for any repairs. We have had the car less than a month. What should we do?
Common sense questions what you can "reasonably" expect for £695. But a dealer is a dealer and as such still has responsibilities and liabilities. If he refuses to do anything about it yo could make a small claim against him in the County Court for either a repair or for your money back. Law here: Unfortunately, at this level, even a County Court judgement against the dealer might not have much immediate effect, especially if he has no assets.
Answered by Honest John
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