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Fleet firms have rival.

Byline: By Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith takes to the road in the Nissan Primera

For years Ford and Vauxhall slugged it out to win the wallets of the bosses who run company fleets.

On the bottom rung the Escort, later Focus, came head-to-head with the Astra.

Then came the Cavalier against Sierra, and ultimately Vectra versus Mondeo.

But like all contests, waiting are new challengers. Nissan knew there was space in the market if it could elbow its way in.

The first Primera, British built and conservative, paved the way. Then in 2002 the Primera was reborn with concept car looks.

For the third generation Primera introduced last year, the changes have been more subtle focusing on improving the ride, improving cabin technology and boosting the power of the diesel version. The saloon four-door body shape was dropped in favour of a five door hatchback and an estate.

The 2.2 dCi, currently capturing around half of all Primera sales, is the version I opted to test. Prices start at pounds 15,600 but the T-Spec test car is pounds 20,405.

First you notice the steering wheel sprouting out of the dashboard. The four main dials are in the centre of a smoothly flowing cowl.

Beneath that, there's a colour monitor that clicks into action when you reverse. Very cool. There's acres of cabin and boot space.

With nearly 140bhp on tap this diesel is pretty nippy. The 60mph in 10 secs and 126mph maximum tell part of the story, but the dCi comes into its own on long journeys when the plentiful torque with low noise levels make it a useful business express.

It is not the sort of car to fling around country bends but it is a comfortable five-seater. And my 47mpg average was better than expected

Facts and figures

Make: Nissan

Model: Primera 2.2 dCi T-Spec 5door

Price: pounds 20,405

Mechanical: 138bhp, 2,184cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels

Max speed: 126mph

0-62mph: 10.2 secs

Combined mpg: 46.3

Insurance group: 10

CO2: 164g/km

BiK rating: 22%

Warranty: 3 years/ 60,000 miles; 3 years paint; 6 years anti-rust
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Article Details
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Aug 5, 2005
Words:359
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