Used Nissan Primera Hatchback 1996 - 2002 review

Category: Family car

The Nissan Primera is a practical, sporty family car in a plain wrapper

Nissan Primera Hatchback (96 - 02)
  • Nissan Primera Hatchback (96 - 02)
  • Nissan Primera Hatchback (96 - 02)
Used Nissan Primera Hatchback 1996 - 2002 review
Star rating

What's the used Nissan Primera hatchback like?

It's often overlooked, but a used Nissan Primera makes a fine low-cost family car, provided you can live with the bland styling and aren't interested in impressing the neighbours.

You can fit a couple of six-footers in the back, and this hatchback version is even more practical than the saloon that might tempt you. Up front, there's no shortage of space, most people will find the driving position comfortable and the dull-looking dashboard is easy to use.


The Nissan Primera is a practical, sporty family car in a plain wrapper

  • Roomy, reliable
  • cheap to run and well equipped
  • Firm ride and bland styling

It's all well built, too, and the quality of materials is a cut above the contemporary Ford Mondeo's. You get a decent amount of kit, too.

So the Primera is very family friendly, and the driver will like it. It's an involving drive and the petrol engines rev willingly. However, the diesel is short of refinement, the ride is firm and, on a motorway trip, it gets on your nerves.

Ownership cost

What used Nissan Primera hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Nissan Primera hatchback?

No second mortgage required here. The Primera is very cheap to buy these days, especially given the way it drives, handles family life and just keeps on going.

Warranty Direct says Nissans are among the cheapest cars to fix, and scheduled servicing will be easy on the wallet, too. Reckon to pay about the same as you would for most other mainstream family cars, such as the Vauxhall Vectra. Take it to a good independent garage, rather than a franchised dealer, and you can expect to shave a quarter off the labour bill, according to Warranty Direct.

Other running costs are equally tame. The 1.6 and 1.8 petrols are capable of 38-39mpg, the 2.0 petrols 32-36mpg and the diesel around 42mpg.

Our recommendations

Which used Nissan Primera hatchback should I buy?

There isn't much of a price gap between the hatch and saloon, so we'd take the hatch. We'd also look for an SE or Sport version; the entry-level E trim and the GX are pretty basic. SE equips you with everything you need for safe, comfortable family motoring, while Sport adds a splash of aluminium in the cabin and smart alloy wheels.

GT versions are well kitted out and have a 150bhp 2.0-litre engine for warm-hatch pace (0-60mph in 8.8sec, 136mph). It's a good car, but we wouldn't pay the extra over the standard 138bhp 2.0, which is our pick. With the manual gearbox, it's perky, eager to rev and quite frugal. Avoid the thirsty, sluggish CVT (continuously variable transmission) auto gearbox, though.

The willing 1.8 is a good second choice and as easy on the juice as the tardy 1.6. There's also a tough, fuel-efficient, if noisy, 2.0 diesel.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used Nissan Primera hatchback?