Fear not: this Spotted is not some missive on how the Almera GTI is a misunderstood icon, deserving of a complete reassessment in the annals of hot hatch history. Even by the fairly ordinary standards of 1990s' pocket rockets, the Almera was never top of the tree; it was better than it's typically given credit for, though, but more on that later.
Like so many almost interesting cars of not that long ago, the Almera GTI has been nearly wiped out of existence. Of course they were never on every street corner, yet the GTI's demise has been truly savage: more than 2,000 were registered in 2001, a figure that now stands at 71. For some context, a Honda Civic Jordan is still comfortably in triple figures, despite there never being more than 500 in the country.
The Almera's problem was always going to be that it was never deemed worth saving. It wasn't a limited edition (like the Jordan was), and it was neither the fastest not the best to drive hot hatch out there. Nissan didn't have a lot of kudos - Skylines aside - for making fast cars, and so plonking a GTI badge on the Almera was never quite going to hit the spot with UK buyers like it might have from other manufacturers.
Which isn't to say the Almera was terrible - far from it. Auto Express described it as a 'cracking hot hatch' (no, really) and a Performance Car review lauded the GTI as fantastic to drive and 'a triumph of ability over appearance', with both good steering and handling. Bet you weren't expecting that.
Combine those attributes to the people who did know with the Almera's staid appearance, tediously dependable nature and lack of prestige to those who just wanted transport, and Almera GTIs were always going to be used. And used a lot. So discovering an Almera GTI like this 20 years later is a find of such historical significance it probably should have emerged from a tomb.
With just two owners in the logbook and 24,877 miles under its Potenzas, this Almera is seemingly flawless. Every single MOT certificate is there, as is evidence of a Mobil 1 Track Record maintenance programme - a service the first owner had to pay for to ensure only premium oils were used at service time. For an Almera!
You're waiting for the price, aren't you? No point skirting around it any longer: it's £6,495. Given Almeras have only featured as Sheds previously on PH - even without that, in fact - it looks like a lotta cash. But, as the old adage goes, find another - it could well take a while. The Almera won't be to all tastes, of course, though it is an interesting curio from a simpler time. And better than everybody will think.
Furthermore, that's far from the silliest that 90s' hot hatch prices get. This Escort RS2000 has nearly twice the mileage of the Almera and is £12k, and this Golf V6 4Motion is £7k with 85,000 miles - neither will be remembered as an icon of the breed, either.
So although the sensible money will go on a Peugeot 306 of this era, or else on something from the hot hatch's 21st century renaissance, there shall be no apologies for featuring the Almera on PH. As an immaculate example of car with an undeservedly bad rep, it more than anything deserves 15 minutes of fame - the next owner may take some finding, but imagine how chuffed they're going to be.
SPECIFICATION - NISSAN ALMERA GTI
Engine: 1,998cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 143@6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 131@4,800rpm
First registered: 1999
Recorded mileage: 24,877
Price new: £14,420
Yours for: £6,495