Nissan Primera 20 Tm

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Keywords: Nissan Primera 20 Tm

Description: If you need a car testing to the limit, give it to a photographer. Staff snappers such as myself tend to put huge mileages on long-term models simply because we're always on the road - tracking down locations, lapping test tracks and, in my case, putting in the hours at the allotment every weekend.

If you need a car testing to the limit, give it to a photographer. Staff snappers such as myself tend to put huge mileages on long-term models simply because we're always on the road - tracking down locations, lapping test tracks and, in my case, putting in the hours at the allotment every weekend.

The latest contender to undergo the Auto Express photographer test is a Nissan Primera estate. Although I've recently handed back the keys to our much-loved SEAT Alhambra, I must confess to being a Nissan aficionado, having run a Tino MPV and old-shape Primera estate in years gone by.

So how is the new model shaping up? Well, so far so good. I've yet to do any really long trips in the car, but with a few road tests in Wales looming in the diary, it won't be long before the odometer is well into four figures.

It will be interesting to see if the engine and gearbox combination will feel any more cohesive after the motor has fully loosened up. I opted for the 2.0-litre petrol version along with Nissan's innovative six-speed CVT transmission (a £1,300 option), and so far it hasn't gelled. It seems reluctant to pull away from rest, although there's no problem once on the move - especially in manual override mode, which allows the gears to be swapped rapidly. But there isn't the kickdown I would expect from a 2.0 engine. What's more, the first few fill-ups suggest that 22mpg will be the norm - which, after the 35mpg Alhambra, is worrying. That said, I can't fault the Primera's ride and handling balance. While it can feel firm in town, the suspension set-up provides rock-solid stability at speed, allowing you to concentrate on driving even with a full load of camera gear in the back. Refinement is another strong suit - motorway miles simply fly by - while the adaptive cruise control is a real boon.

As a snapper's mobile office, the Primera's practicality has been stretched nearly to breaking point. The car can carry plenty of equipment, and although the boot isn't as tall as the SEAT's, the back seats fold down flat to make a longer and flatter load area than before. There's also an underfloor storage tray to keep valuables out of sight.

The interior in general has an upmarket feel - thanks mainly to the standard leather trim. But there are some elements that could be improved upon, one being that I find myself sitting too high. I've driven lower-spec Primeras and not noticed the seat being too lofty, so I'm guessing that the problem lies with the power lift mechanism that prevents the seat base going any lower. How taller drivers will fare remains to be seen.

That said, I'm getting used to the controls for the stereo and ventilation system, which brought back memories of a day spent trying to master BMW's ultra-complex iDrive set-up. Thankfully, the Nissan solution is more intuitive and, given a few more weeks, I'll be a dab hand. Naturally, my kids mastered the whole thing in a matter of seconds.

If there's a downside, it's that the fit and finish leaves a little to be desired - a surprise, as all my previous Nissans have felt bulletproof. On sliding back the sunroof, I discovered that the rear interior light fell out. It seems that the glass panel collides with the light socket - so, for now, the sunroof is going to stay closed.

With a hard life ahead of it and the prospect of winter roads on the horizon, our Primera couldn't have been given a tougher brief. Will everything come up roses or will life with the Nissan simply go to seed? I'll let you know in the next report.



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