The lack of a full range of engine sizes encompassing 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol units has limited its relevance to many fleet customers, many of whom will have ruled it out for choice list inclusion on this criteria alone. It all adds up to the reason for a mid-life make-over that has involved 600 improvements and radically changed looks aimed at giving the new generation Primera a sexier profile and a more attractive remit from a fleet point of view when it goes on sale on September 1.
At the heart of the changes is a new 1.8-litre engine that will allow Nissan to compete head-on with its class rivals: 1.8s account for some 35% of D-sector sales and, to date, Nissan has lacked competitiveness with a choice of only 1.6 or 2.0-litre petrol engines. Developing 112bhp, the new unit already meets emission standards not scheduled for introduction until 2005.
The range has also been re-designated: E is now the entry level followed by S, Sport, SE, Sport Plus and SE Plus giving two model streams - sports and luxury. Outside, new front wings, lamps, bonnet and bumpers emphasise the new 'face' while, at the rear, a new tailgate blending with the rear bumper incorporates revised lamps. Side skirts and new side mouldings complete the leaner look. A choice of new alloy wheel styles is optional (as fitted to the test car), while gas-discharge headlamps are standard on Plus models.
Prices have yet to be finalised but will be broadly in line with the outgoing model: the 1.8 S featured here costs about ú15,300 on the road, some ú180 more than the old 1.6 GX. The range runs from about ú14,000 to ú20,000.