1998 Nissan Primera Neo VVL 2.0


A seriously good wagon


Air conditioning lost its gas all of a sudden.

Had a new engine mount and some CVT solenoid before I bought it.

Other than that, nothing at all.

General Comments:

It's a bit of a sleeper wagon really, looks like most other mid size sedans out there, but with a couple trim bits that make it look less granddad spec.

Interior looks classy and is comfortable. Driving position is good for me (180cm), seats are hard wearing and have a nice combination of supportive and soft for the type of vehicle. This interior is specific to the SR20VE powered versions, and I have found the standard ones to have seats which are too firm. Plastics are a high standard. There is plenty of room in the front, and the rear is sufficient for tall people.

I have manual converted this, and it is by far the best thing you can do to the car. The car felt OK, but nothing special when it had the CVT transmission (they are nice for an auto), but with the LSD manual box it is genuinely a quick car, even with a standard engine tune. Bottom end torque is like no other 2L I've driven, and it really feels like it's got a big donk under the bonnet. Top end is good, but with standard tune the VVL kicks in too late and the 7200 RPM rev limit is too low. An aftermarket tune fixes this issue. Wheelspin is an issue in the wet if you are lead footed, and in first gear on a dry road, will light it up, piece of cake.

Utilisation of space is good; in the rear there are storage compartments under the boot floor and on the sides, and the rear seats fold down flat to fit in bulky things, and two tall people could sleep comfortably in the back.

Handling is excellent, there is plenty of grip at the front end and the back, and this is on cheap tyres. Body roll is minimal and steering turn in is precise. The ride is firm but not uncomfortably hard; the car does not wallow at all. I drove it 1700km in two days, and felt like new at the end of it.

Only things I can think of that I would change, is have an adjustable steering column length, and a cable clutch instead of a hydraulic clutch, because the feel of a cable is much better.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th February, 2013

1998 Nissan Primera CVT M6 2.0


Highly underrated, and well worth getting


LH front window not working when we bought it; easily fixed by cleaning the plugs to the wiring loom on the motor.

Front sway bar drop links worn and thumping going over bumps.

Power steering hose disintegrated due to age, about $350 to get replaced, as it had to be specially made (OEM Nissan one was horrendously expensive).

Starter motor finally sucked a big Kumara at 175,000 km, after making nasty noises for what must have been at least a year beforehand. This is a job best left to those with the right gear like hoists or inspection pits, as the clearances and access is restrictive.

Had it tuned two weeks ago, and needed a new O2 sensor, and will need the knock sensor replaced before too long as well.

General Comments:

Styling is bland and inoffensive, but looks nicer with the factory body kit.

Front seats are comfortable and supportive.

The engine is the SR20DE NEO with variable valve timing, and supposedly puts out 180hp.

CVT is a bit sluggish if you need to nail it when overtaking, but gives great highway economy. At 100km/h (speed limit in NZ) it's ticking over at 2100RPM. The "Tiptronic" mode is useful when driving through the twisty bits, and gives a bit more control, but usually just leaving it in auto covers most situations. When descending steep grades at lower speeds (50km/h), the gearbox will reduce the ratio so that it gives engine braking.

NZ's course chip road surfaces create a lot of noise and harshness; this can be tiresome on long trips. I think a decent set of tyres would improve things all round on that score.

Prior to this we had a Primera P10 TE, which is a Japanese import version with extra stiff suspension and sports seats. We really liked that car, but needed a wagon. We had a quick dalliance with a Nissan Stagea 25X, but fuel costs saw that being hocked off after a few months and the P11 taking its place. It's not quite as stiffly sprung as the P10, but even so, people still comment on how 'hard riding' it is. The steering has more weight to it than the P10, and it's more like a European car than Japanese one.

It's now 14 years old, and I guess the day will come when it needs to be replaced, but I just can't imagine what with. My wife and I like driving this car, and finding something equally enjoyable is going to be a big ask.

The main downside of the CVT, is that it can't be used for towing, and can be expensive if it sucks a big lemon.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th August, 2012