A Primera pilot now faced the same featureless grained plastic moulding as the passenger, topped with the graceful arc of a binnacle housing centrally arrayed instruments. Beneath these were a big screen, and below that a near horizontal deck of knobs and buttons, also arranged in an arc. Back in 2001, this was novel, as was the Nissan’s provision of kit. The aim was to tempt those premium brand flirts not only with fresh design but plenty of high-tech equipment, too. The Primera was one of the very first D-segment cars to have a reversing camera – and on almost every version, too – and three of its five trim grades provided sat-nav. Rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, hands-free phone capability and a sub-woofer came with all bar the base model as well.
Nissan’s mission was to woo with a feast of electronic kit, a quest it continues to this day. But for the Primera, this wasn’t enough, and nor was its brave-for-the-day styling. That it didn’t handle as sharply as its dynamically fine-tuned predecessors didn’t explain the decline: it was that flight to premium. Nissan needed to do something different, as slow sales of its smaller, thoughtfully dull Almera painfully underlined.
And it did. A massive offensive of intelligently interpreted market research created the brief for the market-mashing Qashqai, whose design would again be lead by Schwarz. As we all know, this trailblazing crossover was wildly successful. The last high-tech Primera, however, is almost completely forgotten.