What's the used Nissan Primera saloon 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 of this saloon, and it has split-folding rear seats, although the hatchback version is ultimately even more practical. Up front, there's no shortage of space, most people will find the driving position comfortable and the dull-looking dashboard is easy to negotiate.
It's all well built 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.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Nissan Primera saloon?
Take a bow, Sunderland. The people at Nissan's factory there built the Primera to run and run, so it's generally a tough bit of kit and solidly screwed together. A good service history is still very desirable, though.
Claims made by Warranty Direct customers are almost exclusively for electrical, suspension and axle faults. The climate control is an area of particular concern, so give that a proper test because it will be a pricey fix.
Watch out for tyres that have worn unevenly, since that can be a sign of suspension trouble. On the test drive, be wary of clonks and make sure the car tracks straight, corners tidily and has a little give over bumps.
Alloy wheels, where fitted, are known to have a corrosion problem. Also 1.6 and 1.8 models built in 2001 had a fault that caused them to stall. A recall should have sorted it, but check.
What are the most common problems with a used Nissan Primera saloon?
Is a used Nissan Primera saloon reliable?
What used Nissan Primera saloon will I get for my budget?
How much does it cost to run a Nissan Primera saloon?
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.
Which used Nissan Primera saloon should I buy?
There isn't much of a price gap between the hatch and saloon, so we'd rather take the hatch than this saloon. But, whichever you choose, we'd recommed 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 stacked 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 is 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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