1997 Nissan Primera GX 16v 1.6 petrol from UK and Ireland


Brilliant all-rounder - desperately under-rated and dirt-cheap


Nearside under-wing suspension bush needs replacing (under non-franchised dealer warranty).

General Comments:

By far the best car I've owned (versus Vauxhall, Ford, Peugeot &c.).

Handling is brilliant, brakes superb, ergonomics spot-on, build is solid, plenty of toys even in this basic form, economy excellent, extremely spacious and very cheap to buy (6/1997, 2 owners, F.S.H., 57k miles: £2600 with tax and 3 months warranty 3/2003).

Performance not so inspiring, but more than adequate, plus fuel is expensive and I need my licence! Ride can be harsh on scabby urban roads.

Oft-criticized looks are subjective, I happen to like it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st April, 2003

1997 Nissan Primera Si 1.6 petrol from UK and Ireland


A lot of car for the money. Reliable too.


Rear view mirror rattles in cold weather.

That's it!

General Comments:

It's not as quick as a GTi, but given it's a 1.6 in a heavy car, that's not surprising.

Very comfortable interior: leather wheel, handbrake and gear selector make it feel a bit special. Seats perfect, even on long journeys.

Add alloys and it looks the part.

Handling amazingly good for a car its size.

Shifts five comfortably and swallows luggage.

Absolute bargain - nothing else with air conditioning on the market for so little.

Could do with a little more power, but given it squeezes into the bottom road tax bracket, insurance group 7 and returns 35mpg, I'm prepared to forgive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th March, 2003

1997 Nissan Primera SLX 2.0i from UK and Ireland


A friendly, useful car with good high-end grunt


All four tyres needed replacing when I took it over, but I'm prepared to put it down to the previous owner's erratic driving habits. My four new Pirellis have hardly worn at all in two and a half years, so the tracking is fine.

The driver's seat squeaks a bit. That's definitely the fault of my inability to abstain from pies.

General Comments:

This is a car you'll slowly fall in love with. It's a total driver's car - it's set up to make you, the driver, feel happy about booting it around on real roads, in real traffic (the same can't be said of the new Renault-ified Primera range, which I test-drove and walked away from).

It handles very competently. It's crisp, but not difficult. If you tend to drive one-handed (other hand smoking or resting lazily on the gear stick) this car will see you through.

It also has plenty of poke, although you don't really see it until about 3,000rpm. 1st gear take off is adequate, 2nd gear sees it starting to growl nicely and 3rd gear will suddenly rocket you into motorway speeds. 4th and 5th are there for cruising.

The interior trim is... well, it's there. It's grey, it's unimaginative, but it's solidly built. And heck, who looks at the interior trim? If you're driving properly, your only contact with the insides of the car is by feel. The boot is ginormous, which is saying something since it's a saloon model. The hatchback variant (which was much more common) could happily transport entire villages.

And I'll also add that's driver-oriented - the centre console is subtly angled toward the driver's seat. If you've never driven a car set up like that, you'll be amazed how much easier it makes it to operate the stereo and heater controls while moving. Which are for you, dammit, not the passenger.

My Primera came with quite a few options - alloys, CD player, air-con and sunroof. My father happens to have a very similar model, but without the options, and everything I've said about mine applies to his too - so don't be put off if you find the down-specced version somewhere. It's still a very good, useful driver's car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th March, 2003

1997 Nissan Primera GT 2.0 from UK and Ireland


Brilliant sports tourer


Leather seat side bolsters wearing on drivers side.

General Comments:

Having always owned "hot hatches" I was pleasantly surprised to discover how sporty this car is. The handling too is also superb and compares well to my previous car (Renault Clio 1.8 16 valve)

Where it really excels though is on the motorway, I have quite easily kept pace with Subaru Imprezza turbo's and Honda Civic type R's. Know wonder Nissan won the British Touring car championship with this car!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 16th January, 2003

7th Sep 2003, 10:43

I take it that your unhappy rating was a mistake. I also find it amazing that you could keep up with an Impreza turbo. They have over 100 bhp extra on tap as standard. Strange.

27th Feb 2006, 10:26

For four glorious years, I owned a 1999 Nissan Primers 2.0 SRi which was supposed to have 20 HP less than the GT, but personally, I found very little to choose between them. My SRi would thrash all, but the fastest M3 and M5 BMW's on a winding road, and even a friend's full rally spec. Impreza couldn't shake me off. On European motorways, it would cruise all day at 125 MPH with loads to spare.

Why the hell Nissan chose not to carry on with the proper development of this car I will never know. Instead, they went on to produce very mediocre machines which have seen many thousands of buyers go elsewhere for their kicks. That could be down to the French influence, and if so, they should be shot a dawn for spoiling a great marque. How could anyone other than a buffoon take a car that was so right, develop it, and produce one that was so wrong?

My Primera was nothing, but fun to drive. It was also comfortable, reliable, roomy, and economical. Some say the car has bland styling, but with front fogs, stylish alloys, and rear spoiler, my SRi in shining silver looked absolutely great.

In choosing my 2.0 litre SRi's replacement, I made a massive mistake. I listened to the garbage spouted by so-called professional motoring journalists, and opted for a brand new Ford Focus C-Max 1.8 Zetec which has proven to be an absolute dog of a thing in reality. I hate that bag of crap so much, I feel like throwing a lit match into the petrol tank. After 15 months of bitter regret, I am now buying its replacement - a new Mazda 3 series 2.0 litre Sport saloon in the hope it will put the fun back into my driving - the fun I once had with my beloved Primera. That car was just phenominal, and I miss it dearly.

Tad, Cambridge UK.