Nissan has taken a right battering in recent years – its public image has been so shaken by scandals and poor financial results that us onlookers have every reason to worry about its future. And that’s before you take into account the situation in Malaysia, where an ageing lineup has allowed it fall even further adrift of rivals like Honda, Toyota and even Mazda.

But the carmaker is digging its heels deep, with several fresh new models that are finally starting to filter into the market. On our shores, the offensive starts with the latest Almera, which at last looks set to take the fight to the all-conquering Honda City and Toyota Vios. It’s nothing if not ambitious – at between RM79,906 to RM91,310, it’s gone from being the cheapest in the segment to one of the most expensive.

The B-segment sedan has more than a few tricks up its sleeve to tackle them head on, however. It’s got arguably the most handsome design of the lot, a completely revamped cabin and a head unit that no longer looks like it’s been pilfered from a Brothers catalogue (it’s even got Apple CarPlay).

The Almera even has a bang up-to-date engine – a 1.0 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine that is right on trend, making 100 PS and an impressive 158 Nm of torque. But the most impressive is the generational leap in safety, where the Almera goes from having a maximum of two airbags and ABS to featuring standard-fit autonomous emergency braking and stability control and up to six airbags.

But what does all this mean in the real world? Can the new Almera live up to the weight of expectations placed on its dinky shoulders, and can the three-pot really deliver the oomph expected in the segment? Our man Hafriz Shah gets behind the wheel to answer all those questions and more, and you can watch his review in the video above. As usual, let us know what you think in the comments after the jump.