Nissan Primera 1.8 review (2002-2007) – MSN Cars UK

26 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Nissan Primera 1.8 review (2002-2007) – MSN Cars UK
Nissan Primera

Nissan Primera

1.8 review (2002-2007)

Bodystyle: Hatchback

Engine: 1.8 in-line 4-cyl

Fuel type: Petrol

Transmission:5-speed manual

Date of test: June 2002

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Nissan’s large family car has been around, in various guises, since 1990. Back then, it was a fine-driving but dull-looking range of saloons or hatchbacks, whose ultimate success was hindered by problems at Nissan’s UK division. Considering it was (and still is) a car built in Britain, it should have sold far better.

Subsequent versions looked no more interesting and lost the original car’s dynamic flair; Nissan is hoping for far great success with this latest model, as it really does represent a step forward in family car design, both inside and out.

Where does it fit?

As with all cars in this sector and price bracket, the Primera’s main competition comes from the ubiquitous Ford Mondeo. 1.8-litre versions form the bulk of sales, which is dominated by fleets; therefore, the Nissan is competitively priced, well-equipped and has been benchmarked in every way against its rivals. Other competitors include the Vauxhall Vectra, Renault Laguna and Mazda6, though Nissan likes to think its upper-spec models offer stylish and well-equipped competition to base Audi A4s and BMW 3 Series.

Is it for you?

It’ll certainly be high on your list of you’re after a family car which turns heads. In five-door guise, the Primera really is a radical and distinctive-looking model which offers a very extensive standard spec. There are also some innovative features, such as a rear-view camera for reversing (an image appears in the dashboard’s centrally-mounted monitor when you select reverse gear).

As it’s British-built, it will appeal to patriots, while the fact that it’s as practical as any rival also ensures it makes sense on a practical front.

What does it do well?

Nissan Primera

Other than stand out in the company car park crowd, where the rear proudly shows lights shaped like tail fins, the Primera is also a good car to drive. For starters, the ‘driver-focused’ dashboard is as innovative as the exterior, all controls being grouped on a central ‘plinth’ and accessed through a display screen. Called N-FORM, it’s neat and, with practice, works well.

Handling is also predictable, the engine is surprisingly nippy and powerful, while few cars are as easy to drive. Refinement is good, and the seats are very comfortable; perfect for long-distance motorway drives.

What doesn’t it do well?

Ride quality isn’t as good as models such as the Citroen C5, Laguna or Vectra, and while refinement is good, it isn’t as hushed at the quite-extraordinary Vauxhall. Technophobes will hate the N-FORM controls, while those after a more relaxed drive won’t like the way you have to rev the engine more than most for maximum power; though its overall strength means the rewards are greater when you do so. The Primera tag may – unfairly – dissuade some who remember the old car.

What’s it like to live with?

It’s likely to be just as reliable as Japanese rivals, placing it high up in the sector for dependability. The Sunderland plant’s build standards are first-rate, with precise engineering work and a flawless paint finish apparent on every car. Fuel economy is also higher than the class average, while company car drivers will be pleased by the lower-than-average tax rating, courtesy of low emissions. Depreciation is only average, but servicing should hold no nasty surprises.

And the Primera is now interesting enough to entertain drivers on a day-to-day basis, even after years at the wheel.

Would we buy it?

In a fiercely-competitive market, the Primera now stands out thanks to its radical styling and futuristic interior. And although it may not be as ultimately all-conquering as the Mondeo or Vectra as a driving experience, it still puts up a good show. Certainly in terms of costs, the greater efficiency offered in 1.8-litre guise will be attractive.

It’s likely to sell well simply because it looks so different, and we’d certainly be strongly tempted, even given the excellence of its key rivals.

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