'I am convinced this car will drive us to the heart of the user-chooser sector. People will take one look at it and instantly decide it's the one they want,' said McNally. The Sunderland-built Primera will compete head-to-head with the likes of the new Ford Mondeo, recently launched revised Volkswagen Passat and the soon-to-be-launched Renault Laguna and Citroen C5. It will enter showrooms just ahead of the revised Vauxhall Vectra and Peugeot 406.
On sale from this week in Japan but not due to enter UK showrooms until January next year, the newcomer promises to be the first in its class to offer adaptive cruise control, the safety system pioneered by DaimlerChrysler on the Mercedes-Benz S-class luxury car. It will also boast a navigation system employing DVD technology that allows rapid access to vast amounts of data.
McNally forecast 'slight' increases in pricing to reflect higher equipment levels. Power units and transmissions are due to be carried over from the current Primera, with the 1.6-litre engine producing 104bhp, the 1.8-litre developing 114bhp and the 2.0-litre unit offering 140bhp. Likely to remain unchanged is the 110bhp, 2.2-litre direct-injection turbodiesel. Work is now under way on a European-only hatchback version of the car, which will be added to the launch range of saloon and estate models later next year.