We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It has a roomy cabin and distinctive looks

Against The ride is firm and the boot is too narrow

Verdict This is a reliable and roomy family car, that's also good value and enjoyable to drive

Go for… 1.8i petrol SE

Avoid… CVT gearboxes

Nissan Primera Saloon
  • 1. Nissan ditched the saloon from the range in mid-2004
  • 2. It's generally reliable, but electrical problems and suspension failures are possible
  • 3. The diesels are nice, but pricey, so the 1.8-litre petrol is the best to buy
  • 4. Servicing isn't as cheap as on a Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, Peugeot 407, Toyota Avensis or Vauxhall Vectra
  • 5. Entry S trim has all the basics, but SE includes alloy wheels, electric windows and a better stereo
advertisement

Nissan Primera Saloon full review with expert trade views

The Primera may not be quite as sharp to drive as a Ford Mondeo, but it isn’t far off. It handles nicely through the bends, with plenty of grip and taut body control. Yet it also smooths out bumps at higher speeds.

The steering is overly light, though, and the ride is firm around town. However, all the engines are crisp, rev cleanly and work well with the standard manual gearbox.

On the motorway, it’s a generally refined cruiser. However, there is a bit of wind rustle and the CVT auto (continuously variable transmission) can make the engine sound rowdy under hard acceleration.

The well-built, quirky cabin is a roomy five-seater, with the rear bench slightly higher than the front seats for an airier feel. The driving position is comfortable and, while the big boot is a useful size, it has an irritating narrow opening.

Trade view

James Ruppert

No shortage of models especially nearly new, 1.8 SE the pick

James Ruppert
Used car guru

If you want a saloon, the newest will be a mid-2004 car, as that’s when Nissan ditched it from the line-up. We prefer the handier five-door overall, but at least there’s no difference in how the two cars drive.

You won’t go wrong with any of the engines: a 114bhp 1.8 petrol, 138bhp 2.0 petrol and 2.2 turbodiesel (124bhp from 2002, then 136bhp from March 2003).

We like the diesel’s pull and economy, but it’s more pricey than the petrols. Of those, the 2.0 is refined and strong, but the 1.8 is keen, more frugal and cheaper, which makes it our favourite.

Basic S trim means climate control, six airbags and electric front windows. SE adds alloys, electric rear windows and a better CD, which makes it the best trim to buy, and we'd ignore SVE, even with standard sat-nav. A display screen controls the stereo, climate control and, where fitted, sat-nav and rear parking camera.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Not as reliable as you'd think - watch suspension and electrical faults

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

You’ll be able to snap up a Primera for surprisingly little dosh. They shed money fast from new, so haggle a tasty deal if you’re buying nearly new to cushion you from subsequent value loss.

The diesel engines are the best for fuel economy - you can reckon on getting more than 45mpg - but they're more expensive to buy, so you’ll have to rack up a fair few miles before the better fuel economy claws back the higher asking price.

Over lower mileages, the 1.8 petrol makes the most sense. It's cheapest to buy, but still good for mid-30s to the gallon, whereas the 2.0 will return about 5mpg fewer.

Insurance costs are pretty modest, too: groups 8 or 9, depending on spec, for the 1.8; 10 or 11 for the 2.0; and 7 or 8 for the 2.2 diesel. However, servicing isn’t quite such a bargain. The Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, Peugeot 407, Toyota Avensis and Vauxhall Vectra are all cheaper to service.

Trade view

James Ruppert

No shortage of models especially nearly new, 1.8 SE the pick

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Primera is extremely well screwed together, and has proved robust and reliable.

A small number have had minor electrical faults, and a limited run was recalled to have tyres replaced for potential damage caused on the production line. Other than that, it’s a squeaky-clean motor.

Little wonder, then, that the Primera figured right near the top of our reliability survey and that owners praised its trouble-free running in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey.

However, the rear parking camera can take some getting used to, so inspect the rear bodywork for knocks that may have happened while the previous owner was getting used to it. Likewise, there are no protective rubbing strips on the side of the car, which makes it vulnerable to dings.

Nissan’s warranty runs out after three years/60,000 miles, but buying one out of warranty is a safer bet than with most cars.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Not as reliable as you'd think - watch suspension and electrical faults

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014