I'm Andy, I'm a 24 year old East Anglian guy. My dream is to be a writer, so I hope you like my reviews. I have a penchant for cars, especially "bangers" so generally this is what I review! Enjoy!
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Nissan Primera, a locking and unlocking champion, and cage figher
Locks and Unlocks Well, Cheap to buy, HANDLING !
Dull, Probably goes to whist drives, locking key fob batteries wear out quickly . . . . .
Value for MoneyExcellent
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I've always been a fan of Japanese engineering, having **just** been around to witness Micra's jumping into life when Fiesta's just grunted, rolled over and went back to sleep on a cold winters morning. I've always praised Japanese engineering from afar, without actually wanting to get overly involved with it. Kinda like "the girl" in the pub, you want to go and chat with her, but you can't help thinking that maybe your dreams will be shattered when you get her home.
My brother bought, (well, had thrust upon him,) a Nissan Primera 1.6 16v (1997 vintage,) which I have now driven for some considerable miles. The first Japanese car to enter the Benham household, despite years of desperate cries on cold mornings, "I wish I'd have bought a bloody Honda."
The car itself is a reasonable spec, (air con, remote locking, 'leccy front windows, sunroof) model with the rather sweet and willing 1600cc power unit. It's tidy, rust free, has now covered 118,000 miles around 10,000 of which in the ownership of this household.
I won't bleat on too much about the dullness, ultimately if you buy a Japanese family car from the 1990's and except a timeless shape, and rubernecking from all that drive past you, then you are frankly delusional.
Credit to Nissan however, what Nissan have done though, is create a car so terminally dull that it won't date ultimately. Nobody will be bothered about casting a wry eye on it, in 1997, 2007 or 2017 it'll never achieve more than a passing mention in any great motoring book you'll be so incongruous everywhere you drive it, frankly doesn't matter. Maybe this is a good thing, it's never been in fashion, so it'll never go out of it might be the attitude Nissan took.
That's not to say the car is in any way offensive on the eye, considering some of the rapidly dating designs from the time though, it's held up well. It's a pretty basic hatch design, I actually can't think of anything else to write about it's looks. I'm having genunine trouble recalling what it looks like. It's red, I think....
So, you've remembered what it looks like and you've located it. A difficult sounding task from the tale of woe I've spun above. Well, Nissan put a brilliant remote central locking system on this car, with a fantastic range. Coming from a motoring diet generally of Peugeots and Fords I'm used to very lethargic locking systems groaning away to unlock the car, not with this Nissan however.
Press the unlock button, and you hear the cry from the car, drill sargeant styleé "I AM UNLOCKED" **FIRM CLUNK** press the lock button, **FIRM CLUNK** "I AM LOCKED." No messing, this car locks, and unlocks with the best of 'em. If there was a competition for effective central locking, they'd be testing the Primera for performance-enchacing drugs. Such is the ferocity that this thing locks and unlocks, it's quite humbling to watch.
What a trivial point I hear you all cry (frankly, I'm thinking it too) but this is going somewhere; the locking system represents the car at large. It's built with riflebolt precision. When you've finally given up the boy-eyed wonderment at how un-nervingly this car locks and unlocks with it's remote (could be several minutes) it's time to put the key in the ignition and take it for a spin.
The engine fires into life without any sort of hesitancy. The engine itself is a tidy little chain-driven power unit. It doesn't suffer with the rattly chains that modern chain-driven DOHC engines seem too, it could be belt driven by sound. The engine is extremely compact, and the whole transaxle is neatly packaged under the bonnet, with a frightening amount of fresh air around it. I can not think of any other car I've worked with that has quite an easy to access engine. It's staggering, I think you could actually stand in the engine bay and work on the engine.
The engine is quiet, refined and reasonably economical (about 35mpg on average,) which considering the Primera is a fairly weighty car to lug around on a "little" 1.6 engine. It does seem a little torque-shy, but this could be an accusation fairly levelled at many small 16v petrol units. This is no hamster and wheel though, the Primera never feels genuinely underpowered. It's not going to make you smile like "loon" everytime you push your foot to the floor, but for general day-to-day mixed speed driving it's perfectly acceptable. Having had the misfortune of driving 1.6 petrol Vectras and Mondeos, the Primera certainly is ahead of the game.
My first drive of the Primera; with my brother in the passenger seat: **Cue dreamy flashback sequence**
"Doesn't pull that badly actually....." "Thow it into that corner" "Eh?" "Trust me......" "Okay, erm..... hang on, Oh my...."
You see, Nissan missed a trick when they marketed this car, it handles well.
That's not "handles well for the size" or "handles well for a Japanese hatchback."
It handles well. Full stop.
The car may look like it has taken early retirement from a glitteringly benign career in insruance, to while away it's remaining days at whist drives and "pottering around the house" it has one trick up its precision engineered sleeve. It'd be like finding out the aforementioned retiree also did kick-boxing tournaments at the weekends.....
Nissan saw fit to develop a highly complex multi-link suspension system (a lá Alfa Romeo) for the Primera, did it pay dividends in sales? Probably not. However for those who know this cars secret it does turn a mediocre cheap Japanese hatchback into a real drivers car. Those who own them a like a select little club, of people who outwardly appear to drive dull, Japanese hatchbacks but secretly have a passion for tearing after tiny little hatches in the twisty stuff. The rear of the car stays firmly planted whatever you try and do with it, and amazingly for a front-driver the handling remains neutral whatever you try and throw at it, and trust me, you will. The suspension system is also highly reliable. (Not like an Alfa Romeo.)
The driving position is good, the seats are very supportive and pedal spacing is correct by my feet. It's an unfathomably dull place to have to sit, grey Japanese grade plastic will reflect at you whichever direction you look. The middle pedal does it's job rather effectively considering the age and class of the vehicle, and compared to Mondeo's and Vectra's once again is ahead of the game. ABS was pretty much standard across all P11 models, which is something to feel good about, should you have a "brown trouser moment" proving to your mates it doesn't handle badly at all.
Service parts are around average price, everything is in the realms of a DIY'er and there are no nasty suprises lurking mechanically. Servicing the car is childsplay and the sheer amount of room under the bonnet makes it a pleasure to work on, not that you'll need to in fairness.
Insurance is a fairly painless affair, and Nissan fitted NATS (Nissan Anti-Theft System) which like most modern cars is a key-chip imobiliser system. It's entirely passive, but cuts downt the risk of the car being stolen astronomically.
So, there we have it, dull, but with a glint in its eye!
I hope you enjoy reading my little reviews as much as I enjoy writing them, (which is a lot,) I'd love you to check out my other reviews if you like my writing style!