First timer - nissan - Latestarter


After years and years and years and years of not doing it, decided this year's resolution was to learn to drive and thankfully passed my test last week.

Thanks to some other life issues which have unexpectedly turned up I'm probably looking at a budget of between £1 and £2.5k ish for a car (not including tax and insurance). After reading various bits and bobs on this site had decided I wanted a Japanese car. After looking at the usual suspects like civics , mazda3s, and then the step ups of the mazda6 and avensis, Nissan have got my interest, the Almera and the primera seem to be offering a lot more car for the money, around £1k less than the other Japanese brands for an equivalent age/mileage which seems a lot at this price point.

For example there's 2005 1.8 petrol sub 50k Almera's for circa £1.5k, whereas a Mazda 3 equivalent seems to be £2.5k plus. Similar type of differences are seen on primera versus avensis/mazda6 too.

Looking for something automatic and petrol between 1.6 and 2.0litre that'll be half decent for city driving, plus useful on all the nsl's and DC's near Brighton, whilst also being suitable for drives to the likes of Windsor / Kent and occasional drives to Dorset and Manchester without being too painful when filling up.

Is it just brand perception or are Nissan totally inferior?

Thanks for reading

Edited by Latestarter on 24/04/2017 at 16:08

First timer - nissan - SLO76
The Nissan's are cheaper for many good reasons. The second gen Almera and P12 Primera were the first cars they designed after Renault bought the firm and both are based on Renault floorpan and have developed numerous common problems which are largely down to cost cutting.

The Almera is notorious for timing chains failing or stretching and the front crossmember rots on them while the Primera is known for chain issues too and electrical faults. They're both nowhere near as nice to drive or as robust as the previous generations and are unpopular on the market which values them accordingly in the total bargain bucket. You can buy either in working order from £300 and £1,000 is enough for a genuinely good one so pay no more than this. I floorpan fed a mint 60,000 mile 53 plate over a year ago for £950 with full history. This is the top money.

The Mazda 3 is a great little car that is great fun to drive and takes abuse well. I've never heard of a chain failing, in fact I really haven't heard of anything other than the occasional sticky brake calipper. The 6 is mechanically as robust but worse for rot so you need to get under it and have a good look. The 6 is sub £1,000 even for the best now but 3's in good condition with reasonable miles start at £1,500. As with the Nissan's avoid the diesels at all costs.

Edited by SLO76 on 24/04/2017 at 18:27

First timer - nissan - Latestarter

Thanks Slo76, really appreciate your time and advice, gives me a few things to think about.

Tempted by the Mazda 6 but your warnings tie up with the advisories I'd seen on a few models about rust. I've also seen a forum post that warned about salt damage on the mazda6 - guessing that makes it a poorer buy for me living by the sea?

Unless i come across a bargain Nissan, maybe keeping an eye out for a mazda3 might be best then, doesn't seem to be too many about on autotr at the moment.

First timer - nissan - daveyK_UK

Nissan have been going downhill for a while now.

their cars are increasingly renault's re-bagged.

the new micra is 100% renault.

First timer - nissan - Avant

Always remember that at your budget condition matters more than make or model. That said, there does seem to be a lower level of risk in buying something Japanese and powered by petrol rather than diesel.

The Mazda 3 or 6 as recommended above, or a Toyota Corolla/Auris or Avensis, or a Honda Civic, are the ones I'd look at. But if you can't find a good one of these near you, don't start looking too far afield (in case you have problems), consider a Ford Focus as there are so many around to choose from. And yes, don't buy a car that's lived near the seaside and had more than its fair share of salt.

First timer - nissan - Latestarter

Brilliant, thanks, you've all been really helpful.

Had a quick look and the honda civic just before it lost its rear windscreen wiper seems well priced.

Presume the civic and the mazda3 are fine for motorway driving?

First timer - nissan - SLO76
"Presume the civic and the mazda3 are fine for motorway driving?"

Both are a bit low geared but stable at speed and the Civic in particular is very spacious. The Civic resists rust better than the Mazda and the 1.6 and 2.0 VTEC petrols are excellent engines with plenty of go. The manual 1.6 will exceed 40mpg with little effort (35 on the auto) and has 10bhp more than the equivalent Mazda 3 but the 3 is much more fun on twisty roads.

At this money it's down to condition, history and mileage rather than fixating on a particular model but there's one thing to watch for on the Civic that's very common. It was one of the first mainstream cars to have an electric rather than hydrolic steering rack which although it helps fuel economy it robs the car of any steering feel and it's prone to failing. When taking a test drive listen for rattles from the front end, it'll sound like a drop link and often sellers will tell you that is what it is (these are cheap to do) but it's more often than not a knackered rack which is an expensive job. Test it on a straight road at 50mph or more and feel for a stickiness on the straight ahead, the car will need constant corrections to keep in a straight line but will feel sticky to respond to small movements. Take care when getting an 'expert' pal to check it over as they almost always miss the rack issues on these. They're otherwise pretty long lasting and reliable. The Mazda commonly only really suffers from sticking callipers but abused cars that haven't been serviced well will give grief.

As far as auto gearboxes are concerned the Civic is much easier to find with one and it's a good box, the Mazda is rare, slower and thirstier. Manuals are plentiful and if all things were equal condition wise I'd have a manual 3.

Edited by SLO76 on 25/04/2017 at 11:24

First timer - nissan - Latestarter

Gees, awesome advice. Really appreciated. Thankyou.


Ask Honest John

Value my car