Fleet News

Nissan Primera 2.0 T-Spec auto



CAR manufacturers seem to be involved in a race to see how much technology can be loaded into their vehicles.

First the Renault Laguna boasted a credit card style entry system and tyre pressure warnings, while the Citroen C5 has hydractive suspension and automatic headlights, wipers and hazard warning lights.

The latest upper-medium saloon on the scene with no end of tricks up its sleeve is the Nissan Primera, tested here in range-topping T-spec guise.

The T-spec has everything you could ever need in a fleet car as standard, plus things you hadn't thought of, as well as those you never knew existed.

The dashboard-mounted screen is available across the Primera range, but the T-spec uses it for its reversing camera and the standard DVD satellite navigation. But these are also available on the lower-spec SVE models, along with rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 17-inch alloy wheels and an improved audio system.

However, the T-spec also has electrically adjustable heated front seats, leather trim, an electric sunroof, xenon headlamps and intelligent cruise control.

The intelligence in the cruise control comes from a radar which senses a vehicle in front of the car and adjusts the car's speed to maintain a set distance. During a brief motorway drive set at 58mph the Primera maintained a safe distance from the cement-mixer lorry in front with no intervention from the driver, even when the lorry struggled up inclines at 40mph.

The Primera politely retained a respectful distance, only speeding up again when the lorry began increasing its speed. Off the motorway the Primera has lost some of its driver appeal, with duller steering and softer handling than its predecessor, but it is still an enjoyable drive.

The 2.0-litre engine purrs away quietly, providing sufficient speed on demand, while the optional CVT automatic gearbox allows smooth progress.

The gearbox has a 'manual' mode with six 'fake' gear ratios which permits drivers to pretend they have the real thing when roads get more interesting. It is most effective at helping the car find the correct speed for slower corners, meaning you don't have to rely on the brakes as much, and the car will turn in neatly and power out.

Ride quality is comfortable and the interior's unusual layout, with its logical 'N-form' dashboard, is strangely inviting. The real appeal of the Primera is having an alternative to the mainstream offerings in the shape of the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, and soon the new Vauxhall Vectra.

The T-spec model also includes almost everything you would find on the options list of rivals as standard for a reasonable price.

The only word of warning could be on the resale value. CAP Network predicts the T-spec auto will retain just 27% of its original value over three-years/ 60,000-miles - on a par with rivals but without the expected honeymoon period new models usually receive after launch.

Perhaps the trade will take time getting used to its looks.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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