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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Primera is a reliable, well-equipped and spacious estate car

Against It has virtually zero image and bland styling

Verdict It's a sensible budget buy for any family

Go for… 2.0 petrol in SE/Sport

Avoid… 1.6 petrol and 2.0 TD

Nissan Primera Estate
  • 1. The Primera estate won't turn heads, but it’s cheap and has a practical, uncluttered loadbay
  • 2. The 2.0 petrol is the one to go for. It has all the muscle you need, but doesn't drink too much fuel
  • 3. Listen out for suspension clonks and avoid cars that pull to one side while driving
  • 4. Climate control can be expensive to fix, so avoid any car where it doesn't blow hot and cold
  • 5. Avoid E trim. S models are okay, but stretch to SE if you can
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Nissan Primera Estate full review with expert trade views

It’s the pair of ‘sensible’ school shoes your mum forced you to wear when you were a kid. The Primera estate is never going to turn heads but it’s a practical, cheap family estate that you can depend on to give years of reliable service. It’s a pretty decent drive, too.

In fact, it’s more sporty than many sports saloons on a twisty road, although the pay-off is a firm ride, especially on motorways, where it can get tiresome. Go for the 1.8 or 2.0 petrol engine and you’ll get a sweet-revving motor with respectable performance and quiet cruising ability.

You get plenty of space in the front and rear seats, a soundly built cabin, a good driving position and an uncluttered, well-shaped load bay. Avoid the entry-level trim and it’s nicely stacked with kit, too.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Hard to find and dull. Interior is brittle and seating can be uncomfortable

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The 2.0 petrol is the one to go for. It has all the muscle you need for load-lugging, doesn’t drink too much fuel and is relatively easy to track down.

We wouldn’t be averse to a 1.8 petrol, but you should steer clear of the 1.6 petrol - it’s too weedy and no more fuel-efficient than the 1.8. The 2.0 diesel is hardy and easy on the juice, but is unrefined, so unless you’re a high-mileage driver obsessed with fuel economy, give it a miss.

The 2.0 petrol was available with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) automatic gearbox, but steer clear of that, too. It’s unrewarding and saps fuel.

And, while we're on about things to avoid, don't bother with the entry-level E models, as they're too spartan. The S trim gives most of what you need, but SE has worthwhile extras and Sport brings smart alloy wheels and aluminium trim, so either of them are the best bet.

Trade view

John Owen

Avoid 1.6. Interiors wear quickly. Cheap to buy and run - diesels make good taxis!

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

So long as you don’t end up with a duff car – and you’re very unlikely to do that – a Primera estate should be cheap to buy and run. Even if you are unfortunate enough to get one of the rare troublesome examples, it shouldn’t be too expensive to fix. According to Warranty Direct, Nissans are among the cheapest cars to repair.

Routine maintenance won’t dent your finances, either. You can expect to fork out about the same on a service as you would for a Ford Mondeo. A good independent garage should be able to save you about 25% on a franchise’s labour rate.

Fuel costs are on a par with most family estates: officially mid-30s to the gallon for the 2.0 petrol; high-30s for the 1.8 and 1.6; and low-40s for the diesel. Insurance is also average, ranging from group 7 for the 1.6 to group 12 for the 2.0.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Hard to find and dull. Interior is brittle and seating can be uncomfortable

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Generally, the Primera is a robust, reliable car capable of high mileages if it's serviced on time, so look for a caring owner (the Primera tends to attract them) brandishing a wad of old service receipts.

That said, give the alloy wheels a close examination – they can be prone to corrosion. Also, ensure the climate control blows hot and cold with reasonable force, as it can be expensive to put right. And, while you’re at it, check that all the electrical kit works.

The other concerns are the suspension and axles. Listen for clonks and watch out for cars that pull to one side, handle badly or crash through bumps. Uneven tyre wear can also point to suspension trouble.

There were problems with engines stalling on 1.6 and 1.8 cars sold in 2001. All should have been dealt with following a recall, but it’s worth checking.

Trade view

John Owen

Avoid 1.6. Interiors wear quickly. Cheap to buy and run - diesels make good taxis!

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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