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  1. Well, I hadn't expected to own this car for over a decade, especially as it was never was the best car that I owned. Having chickened out on a £5k 05 reg Toyota Corolla 1.6 VVTi a couple of weeks earlier, I bought the Almera 2.2 dCi SXE from Norfolk Motor Group: a franchised Kia / Suzuki / Great Wall dealership, in September 2010. The sticker price was £3999. Cheapest car they had on their used forecourt. I traded in my 152,000 mile 1994 Escort 1.8 L diesel saloon for it. Was in between jobs at that moment. Fearing that I was perhaps going to end up working a fair distance away home and my amazement at the excellent fuel economy of the clattery ex-Plod Escort, I decided that diesel was a good option. The car looked alright and ran OK. I was blindsided by the bells and whistles it had, like climate control and a six speed gearbox. Never had those before on a car! The Almera would be my 7th car. Insurance costs screwed me over a bit early on in my driving career: the first 5 cars I owned were either 998cc A series engined or various 1.4 litre petrol engined car with no less than 78 bhp. Car number 6: the Escort being the largest engined car I had owned to date albeit with 60 bhp. Surely the Almera with it's 2.2 diesel engine and 136 bhp engine was going to be as exciting* as a Golf GTi to drive?! And I was 33 years old by this point. Test drove it on my own, deal done. £250 part ex, so I got my money back on that. Lost out on 3 week's worth of VED. Perhaps I should have waited until 1st October but I was excited to get my car and the salesman wanted his commission before the month was out. Bah! Lesson learned. However, the VED on the Escort was about a week from expiring. So the Almera had 66,007 miles and a full service history and was MOT'd until July 2011. Registered on 18th December 2003. Despite the NC reg indicating it was registered in Newcastle, it appeared to spend it's first few years in Hertfordshire before moving to north Norfolk a few years later. On the number plate is a sticker for 'Crayford and Abbs' which is a small Nissan dealer in the seaside market town/village of Mundesley. Here it is parked up in Cromer in 2011: I ended up not using it much at all as I secured employment within a 10 minute walk from my digs. I found the front LCD display screen rather distracting at first. Being top of the range, in the centre console there is an array of flat buttons which tripled up as heater controls, stereo controls and even inbuilt sat nav controls. I still find adjusting the heater/demist controls while driving very distracting. I prefer a tactile knob or two (fnarr fnarr). At least the stereo and trip computer controls are on the leather steering wheel. I became more aware of the whistling noise from the turbo, which seems to be a feature of older VAG motors. Was that like that when it was still at the dealer's? Couldn't remember. I put up with it. However, I had more (de)pressing issues. In late 2011 the clutch began playing up badly. Nursed the car back home in 3rd gear and got a recovery company to pick it up and investigate. One phone call later asking how I wish to proceed, I opted for a non genuine Nissan clutch plate at £350 over the £500 genuine one. Add into the mix the £50 recovery fee, parts and labour, repairing it came to nearly £1200!! I paid for it with a credit card, which was initially declined however, by some stroke of luck it was accepted on another credit card. Turned out the first credit card I used had a limit of £1,000! Given that it had a rear tow bar, I started to realise that the N16 has had a tough life in it's first few years! I ended up getting a much better job over the other side of the city. This is where the Almera started to shine. I'd use the A47 Norwich Southern Bypass to get there most days. It was and is an excellent A road cruiser. Before the job I was putting around 2000 to 3000 miles on the clock but between 2012 and 2015 I was travelling 7000 miles a year. Here it is in 2013, parked in a very tight designated space. In early 2014 I spent around £560 on sorting the brakes. I'm no mechanic (you probably knew that regarding my tale with the clutch!) but the brakes just didn't feel great. I was happly to spend the money getting them sorted. It happily passed it's 2011, 2012 and 2013 MOTs. Failed in June/July 2014: the infamous weak point on N16s a rusty front crossmember. Got the main dealer to source and fit it, retested and it passed. The following year I decided to really splash out and buy a new turbo to get rid of that irritating whistling noise. That cost £1300, had it done at a tuning place. It was at this point I really started to resent spending money on the car. The 1999 SEAT Ibiza 1.4 I had previously owned for over 7 years was almost problem free. But, eh? I wanted a powerful car. Maybe I should have bought that 2005 Corolla?! By this point I had moved closer to work so mileage was down to 2000-3000 a year. It was after this point that it really started to bother me how heavy the steering felt. The wheels wore 195/55/16 Cooper summer tyres. Seems like I have a history of picking cars with heavy steering as car number 3: the unassisted 1990 Fiat Tempra 1.4 was a bugger to park and even the PAS equipped SEAT Ibiza felt heavy (wide 14 inch wheels). In comparison the 1994 Escort diesel with optional PAS on 13 inch wheels was as light as a feather to steer. In September 2017 I had the track rod ends sorted by the main stealer who sold me the car 7 years earlier (on top of a full service). I felt that it made little difference to the steering. To date I haven't had to change the exhaust or any of the front light bulbs, surprisingly. Last serviced back in November 2020 where I was warned about the [typing this from the service invoice] exhaust flexi pipe starting to corrode/various hangers; exhaust heat shield mounting points corroding so it looks like the exhaust is at the end of it's shelf life. The garage that serviced it also warned me about the battery, 2 x aux. belts, anti-roll bar bushes slightly deteriorating and slight squeak noted from front end on road test. At the age of 17 years, perhaps it's time to move the car on? As of today, the Almera N16 is on 105,400 miles, so I have done around 39,400 miles in 10 years and 4 months.
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