An enquiry about the extras on our 2.2 dCi SVE brought a succinct reply – metallic paint for £375. Having been particularly impressed by the spec level, this came as a real surprise. Fleet managers wanting to keep a tight rein on the coffers while keeping their drivers happy might do well to point them in Nissan’s direction.
Standard equipment includes a camera that replaces rear parking sensors and enables drivers to see in full colour the pet dog/small child or passing cyclist they are about to run over. Its screen doubles up as a display for the radio/CD player, climate control, trip and service computer and Birdview satellite navigation system.
Set horizontally on to the dash, the ‘N-form’ controls resemble those of a computer console, with a central ‘button mouse’ to choose the options, as well as some on the indicator stalks.
Hi-tech certainly, but fairly easy to get used to.
Electrically-adjustable leather seats are heated in the front – essential as far as I’m concerned – and interior trim looks pretty classy.
It is much improved from the earlier versions of this car, with integrated controls on the steering wheel and an expensive-feeling metallic finish – and the door handles get the same treatment. Since the Primera’s mid-term facelift in the summer, the saloon has been dropped from the UK line-up as it took such a small share of sales, instead leaving the estate and the tapering hatchback.
On the downside, with just a few hundred miles under its belt, the 2.2-litre diesel engine doesn’t yet feel willing to exploit fully its 136bhp (Nissan refers to it as the ‘138’ – its power in metric PS) and 232lb-ft of torque, although it cruises along happily enough.
More to the point, that apparent understated power delivery hasn’t so far been compensated for in fuel economy. To date, my admittedly urban and short journeys have resulted in an mpg figure barely above 30mpg but we expect this to improve as the miles wear on and it covers some longer journeys.
With carbon dioxide emissions of 164g/km the 2.2-litre common rail diesel engine is not yet Euro IV compliant, and it isn’t as efficient as many European diesel engines offering similar power and torque, or indeed the Honda Accord diesel.
However, Nissan does not ask such a high premium for diesel over petrol as most manufacturers – just £500 more than the 2.0-litre petrol variant.
Compare this with the Ford Mondeo, where there is a £1,350 gap between the 2.0-litre petrol and 130bhp diesel. Bear this in mind as well as the level of equipment and it will be some compensation for drivers worried about the higher than average carbon dioxide emissions impacting on their BIK bills.
Nissan Primera 2.2 dCi 138 SVE
Price (OTR): £18,575 (as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 164
Company car tax bill (2004/5) 22% tax-payer: £62 per month
Insurance group: 9
Combined mpg: 46.3
Test mpg: 30.7
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,125/26%
HSBC contract hire rate: £292 per month
Expenditure to date: Nil
What we expect: A change for the better
THE Primera is one of the forgotten cars in the upper-medium sector. It is certainly a hi-tech package and, when it was unveiled in the UK for the first time at the Fleet Show in May 2001, it surprised many with its outlandish looks. Maybe its looks were too adventurous for some and it wasn’t as much fun to drive as its predecessor. However, Nissan’s engineers have improved the perceived quality of the new car and made it better to drive, and over the next six months we expect testers to appreciate the genuinely useful technology it delivers at a reasonable price.
What the manufacturer says
NISSAN believes the mid-term improvements to the Primera will give it a new lease of life in one of the key fleet sectors. Nissan fleet sales director Dave Murfitt said: ‘We hope the improvements will have a positive effect and increase the appeal of the car. We think sales will increase on the back of these changes, but we are realistic and are not competing in terms of volume with the big players in fleet. We expect to sell 5,000 Primeras to fleets in a full year.’