Fleet News

Nissan Primera 1.8 SVE - 8,335 miles



THE new Nissan Primera caused quite a stir when it was first launched. The original model had been slated for its dull exterior, so in its second incarnation the designers swung completely the other way and produced a shape which was daring and different.

Personally, I like this new look with its pointy rear end but I'd have to say that there are plenty who don't.

However, climb aboard and everyone is dazzled by what's inside – a massive sweeping dash that wouldn't look out of place in a spaceship, with all the dials and controls clustered in the middle. In a nutshell, it looks stunning.

All the heating, ventilation and stereo controls are operated via the screen in the centre console. It annoyed me intensely at first as I had to look in the handbook to work out even how to get some heat circulating round the cabin.

But once you've mastered it, things are fine, although I still haven't managed to discover how to alter the bass and treble levels on the stereo. Trouble is I only remember when I'm on the move and then it's too late to look in the manual. Invariably by the time I end my journey, I forget again!

The screen also houses the satellite navigation system but as a committed technophobe I will not be using that particular device.

Turn on the engine, flip the car into reverse and this car's USP is revealed – the screen shows a picture of what's behind courtesy of the car's reversing camera. It's a neat bit of kit but in practice it is a bit of a gimmick. After all, you still have to look behind and it isn't immediately obvious how far away you are from objects at the rear of the car. A simple parking sensor is much more effective – and cheaper.

It has also taken me a little time getting used to looking into the centre of the dashboard to see the speedo rather than looking straight ahead. The last car I had with such an arrangement was my old Triumph Spitfire back in 1973.

The Primera is a pleasant car to drive as long as you don't expect too much from it. The clutch and gearchange are both ultra light and the brakes have a good grip.

Unfortunately the last two cars I had driven before this were the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo and these vehicles both show up the Primera's shortcomings.

The seats are flat and relatively unsupportive, the car is rather noisy at 70mph and the steering feels vague and woolly compared to the other cars. I'd also agree with Fleet News' editor John Maslen in his last report that this model feels underpowered. You really do have to push the revs up and use the gearbox before it will give any sort of lively performance and that, of course, brings us back to the noise problem – more revs, more noise. But maybe I'm being a little harsh. Most people who choose this car will be quite happy with it – after all the average driver does little more on the roads than tootle about at 60mph.

Company car tax bill 2002 (22% taxpayer): £52.98 per month

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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