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Now as some of you know, I tend to change my car quite often. However, the latest change was somewhat forced upon me. My beloved R reg 1.6 Si Primera finally bit the dust when it had an argument with the rear end of a large lorry. Gone but not forgotten, the primera is no more.
However.... After making such an impact on me, I felt it only fair that i stick to the brand that has faired so well with me and delivered faultless and effortless motoring to my family at a more than fair price.
So when the opportunity to buy a 2 litre Primera Sport + came along, i could hardly resist it.
The company. For those of you that dont know, Nissan is a major Japanese motoring manufacturer that actually produce some of their cars in the uk. The plant at Sunderland produces almeras, micras and my Primera written about here.
THE BODY ************ If you know the Primera shape you may not even know that there was a subtle body change in the model in 1999. some corners were smoothed out, some surfaces were "modernised" and on the whole, the vehicle was given a facelift. however, the majority of the internals,engines and even wing mirrors appeared to be carried over.
Being a driver of one for some time, I notice these changes greatly. The bonnet looks much more modern with a bulging radiator intake at the front, more trendy teardrop headlamps and a nicer looking back end.
As with all Primeras and all Nissans, the bodywork is faultless. paintwork is immaculate and these cars simply do not rust. however, I have noticed that the bodywork steel is quite soft and prone to easy denting. Be careful when cleaning and polishing it. Dont press too hard!
My Primera is actually the top of the range "flagship" model. The sport + has colour coded everything which really makes a difference. The silver paint looks great all over the car which includes the wing mirrors, bumpers, side sills and doorhandles.
It also sits on 16 inch 8 spoke wheels which, when clean, look the absolute business. However, cleaning them can be quite laborious with lots of nooks and crannies to get into. The rubber for the wheels is quite low profile and wide in width (205-55-16 for those that know) so they are an expensive part to replace. Dont go wheelspinning these!
Going back to the front, you will notice the headlamps are very clear looking. This is because they are powered by Xenon bulbs which give high power beams. These are great for night driving and giveout a "blue" hue rather than the yellowish light of normal headlights. Keeeping them clean are high powered washers. There are no wipers on the lights and im unsure about how much use these high powered washers are but they look quite posey! Adding some extra vision in bad conditions are the low level Front fog lamps. These look very cool and nestle nicely in the front spoiler which is also colour coded.
THE INTERIOR ************ Getting into the car is like a previous car flash back for me. Its like my old car has come back again with some little tweaks. Again the dashboard layout, centre console and door cards look identical, even down to the switches. However, the door cards are dressed with a different fabric and this is reflected in the seats.
Saying this, the seats have come on leaps and bounds. They are much more comfortable and appear to give more lateral support than the predecessors. Also, being the Sport + model, the seats are finished in Half Leather. This gives a more executive feel to an otherwise very bland and plastic lokoing interior. Also the internal door handles have been finished in Chrome look plastic that detracts from the look.
Apart from the looks inside, there are some very handy extras that I will tell you about. The Sport + comes with the following:- Air conditioning and Climate control. Handy for keeping the car at a constant temperature. However te buttons are quite clumsy on this dashboard for the A/C.
Electric Sunroof. Fully retractable and also tilts to the front. A great bonus when you cant be bothered with the blowing wind of A/C. There is a handy pop up lip that also removes the wind "buffeting" that plague so many sliding sunroofs.
Electric windows on front and back doors. Not had this before. It can prove a little annoying when driving. Many times I have gone to open the Drivers window only to find the rear one has gone down instead! The buttons are a bit too close together and lead to the wrong window being opened! There is a handy window "disable" button for when little people in the back discover what the switch on the door does!
Fuel/Trip Computer. Excellent gadget and very accurate. It tells you how far you have travelled, how long it has taken, average speed, MPG, miles of fuel left! Fantastic. Map lights, Sun Visor lights and interior lights. Excellent for all occasions. Sun visor particularly good for when the wife needs to touch up the make up in transit.
Variable speed intermitent wipers. Good when its raining just enough to mess with your vision but not enough to prevent that awful screech the wipers make on a half dry screen.
Boot release switch. For lazy people who dont want to get out and open their boots.
Boot CD Multi Changer. Hmm... Im not sold on this. Firstly it mounts vertical and not horizontal and skips a lot. Secondly it does not play copied CDs! Thumbs down im afraid.
THE PERFORMANCE ************************** Its packing a punchy 2 Litre Double overhead cam 16 valve engine which delivers about 150 BHP. Translated into english, it does shift when you want it to. I notice it mostly in the motorway. Give it a little squeeze when you need to overtake something and it replies. Its quite happy cruising along at high speed and this is where 5th gear and fuel economy seems to be best. However, be prepared for it to drink petrol in urban driving and traffic jams. Acceleration from nothing is not amazing but it has bags of mid range torque and does not complain even when carrying loads of weight and luggage.
The ride is a bit harder than my old Primera but this can be forgiven when it comes to corners. It does not matter how you throw the car into a roundabout or bends, it goes round them flat. No body roll at all. Just level driving at all times. This is great as you can get the power down much earlier!
Cabin noise is non existant. It seems to be very smooth and silent driving from inside. The power steering is a big plus as the car does feel very heavy and stiff. I imagine it would be a nightmare to drive without. Stopping? well, this car surely does stop. This is thanks to disc brakes all round. The ABS has not been tested to the max yet but it has kicked in a couple of times in the wet. A true life saver.
One thing that does seem to plague the Primeras is lumpy Gearboxes. I dont know it they are traditionally soft but when i bought my old primera at 12 months old it needed a new gearbox. My wife complained that it was always difficult to get in gear and the new one can also be difficult at times to engage reverse.
THE MAINTENANCE ************************ Primeras are notorious for providing cheap trouble free motoring and this reflects in the maintenance costs. Taking it to the dealership as I always do will cost you about £120 for a basic service and rising to £200 for a major overhaul. This can be lived with. Things that do wear are tyres due to the power steering. Im yet to go through a set of tyres in the traditional way of wearing across the tread. They normally become bald on the edges. Not a good thing to do as tyres cost well in excess of £110 each. Brakes too wear out and these would not be cheap with discs all round.
THE OVERALL RATING **************************** Fantastic! One word to describe it. The car drives well, looks great and will give me plenty of trouble free motoring I hope. Not only this but they are tremendously underpriced for what you get. My V reg car cost me £5500 from a dealership about 6 months ago. One I would recommend picking up to anyone.