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This will be not so much a full review as a first impression of the new Nissan Primeras.
Having been a Nissan Primera driver for some years, latest being a 1.6 sri I was lucky enough to be invited to our local Dixons dealership for the launch of the new Primeras last month & more importantly this included an all expenses paid trip to Oulton Park Race Circuit to drive the new cars.
So I will try to give an unbiased opinion which should not be too hard because the new Nissans are a total departure from your average box on wheels. Let's start with my first impressions on the launch night. Cue music, lights, dry ice & the new lady appears, shiney, sleek and all sensual curves, looking good from the front but the rear...not to my taste, too bulbous and rather plain.
The model we saw was the 1.8 diesel & a peek under the bonnet revealed the direct injection lump which seemed to have been shoe horned into a 1.2's engine bay. Definitely not for the home mechanic I would say. Next I suppose I better mention the fact that all the new Primeras are extremely well equipped and all have a Reversing Camera,DVD player & LCD screen. Yes that's correct! The base model has B/W screen & this becomes colour in the more expensive models. The DVD player is mainly for the supplied Map & Route programme but the LCD screen also has graphics for air conditioning, sound system & of course the Reversing Camera. No excuse now for flattening the neighbours cat...or there again could improve your aim, you takes your choices.
All this Wizardry sits in the centre consule -no it IS the centre consule. Getting behind the wheel for the first time ( subsequent times also ) is rather strange... Ok who stole the Speedometer. You see it's not where you expect, behind the steering wheel is just an expanse of vinyl ( leather in top ,models) The vital instruments sit perched in 3 nacelles above the centre consule & thankfully are all of the analogue variety. One immediate plus point everyone remarked on was that the steering wheel could no longer mask the dials, neat touch but some may find it irritating to have to glance to the left to check speed etc.
Following Saturday it's an early start to arrive at Oulton park in time for breakfast. Bacon Buttie loaded we are next given a swift briefing & then taken to the cars, all eighteen of them supplied by Nissan UK - So we are told to split into groups of 3 & pick our unfortunate Instructor. I'm a lucky chap and find myself teamed up with a Nissan Manager with racing experience, a current racing driver for an instructor & another green horn like me. Here we go, first the racing boy shows us the way around for 3 laps & then nissan man struts his stuff... Oh lordy it's me next.
Well I strap myself in, get all comfortable, into first & pop the clutch. No I don't break any lap records but I have to say the Nissan Performed admirally in my rough hands. The six speed box takes a little getting used too but everything else felt very natural. Pushing hard into chicanes resulted in a 'planted feel' and even a relative novice like yours truly was feeling confident by the end of the third lap when I reluctantly pulled into the pits to hand over to driver number 4.
I think the only thing that I reservations about is the all singing all dancing centre consule . This is going to take some serious manual reading just to turn on the radio & I feel at least initially it could prove to be quite a distraction which may raise safety issues.