As the Nissan Almera Tino proves, 20 years is a long time in the car industry. One minute we’re being encouraged to load our little darlings into a mini-MPV, the next minute only a crossover will do.
Nissan was relatively late to the small MPV party – the Almera Tino arrived three years after Renault had blazed a trail with the Megane Scenic. Unfortunately, the Tino lacked the individuality of the Fiat Multipla, the flexibility of the Vauxhall Zafira, and the eccentricity of the Citroën Xsara Picasso.
In developing the Almera Tino, Nissan spoke to mothers, sports teams, gardeners and people who spend their weekends at B&Q to find out what they want from a car. Armed with this information, it’s surprising that the result was a little, well… meh.
It had the usual array of cupholders, storage spaces (20, if you're counting), foldaway tables and individual rear seats, but aside from a clever multi-folding parcel shelf, removable baskets and an instrument panel designed to look like a personal stereo (remember those?), there was little to tear people away from other bulbous offerings.
In fairness, it was actually pretty decent to drive – a message Nissan hoped to ram home courtesy of some ‘on it’ press photos. Sure, it lacked the flair and verve of its somersaulting and double-fist-pumping namesake, but the Tino was more fun than an Almera-based MPV should be.
Cue cries from the Sunderland and Middlesbrough faithful of “Fat Nissan Almera, you’re just a fat Nissan Almera. Fat Nissan Almera, you’re just a fat Nissan Almera.”
Newcastle fans would respond with “We've got multi-link rear suspension, you've got Peter Reid.”
Rock you like a hurricane
The Nissan Almera Tino’s fall from grace was almost as rapid as the Colombian footballer’s. Like so many cars of this ilk, the descent into the lower leagues of the Auto Trader classifieds was rapid and unforgiving.
Battle-scarred by years of jostling for position in the car parks of Mothercare and the Charlie Chalk Fun Factory, and with an interior soiled by the remnants of Happy Meals, boiled sweets and dog hair, the chances of finding a mint Nissan Almera Tino are slim. It will be easier to find a YouTube video showing a solid defensive display by Newcastle under the reign of Kevin Keegan.
It’s far from extinct, but there are just 33 for sale on Auto Trader, with prices ranging from £300 to £2,000. This £450 example is especially appealing, featuring, as it does, black steelies on one side and a pair of three-spoke wheel trims on the other.
Who decided that wheel trims that pay homage to three-spoke alloys would be a good idea? Probably the same person that believed Hurricane and Twister would be good names for trim levels.
Wind of change
Six years after its launch, the Almera Tino was gone with the wind. The Tino, along with the Almera, was swept away by the Qashqai and Juke, with Nissan all but turning its back on hatchbacks and MPVs. The spirit of the Tino lived on in the surprisingly good Nissan Note, while Nissan UK made a fleeting return to the hatchback sector with the Pulsar and its limo-like rear legroom and best-in-class elbow room.
Which leaves the Nissan Almera Tino to exist in a world of faded England car stickers, ‘baby on board’ hangers, missing wheel trims and insurance write-off categories. It will slip into the abyss unnoticed and without fanfare.
PetrolBlog is here to ensure that the Tino has a bookmark on the internet. But unlike Faustino Asprilla’s memorable hattrick against Barcelona, it’s unlikely to warrant repeat viewing. Still, it has to be better than a Qashqai, right?