Car reviews - Nissan - Pintara - T 4-dr sedan
Room for improvement
Surprisingly bad quality for a Nissan, coarse engines, unhappy handling/ride compromise, bad reputation
20 Jun 2003
THE Nissan Pintara under review here represents both the start and finish of an era.
As the first front-wheel drive medium-size Nissan family sedan, it succeeded the rear-drive, four-cylinder Pintara-badged version of the Skyline in 1989 in this fiercely competitive market segment and looked set for a promising future.
But its career was cut short when Nissan pulled down the shutters on its loss-making local manufacturing operation in 1992 to become purely an importer. The Pintara competes in a market where four-cylinder cars with front-wheel drive are almost universal.
Along with its rivals, it offers accommodation for five, good performance and economy and a reasonable level of equipment for the price.
A more luxurious version, the Ti, included extras such as air-conditioning, alloy wheels, fog lights and radio headset jacks for the rear passengers. The Pintara was also available in re-badged form as a Ford Corsair.
Conforming to the medium-car formula, the Pintara T has a four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission or five-speed manual.
The 2389cc engine is more powerful than its rivals and performs well, although the engine is quite noisy when worked hard. Torque is very good, giving excellent acceleration and overtaking ability. The more basic GLi and Executive models have a 2.0-litre, fuel-injected engine.
The Pintara T 2.4-litre engine was also fuel efficient with up to 8.3L/100km quite possible during gentle country driving. Realistically, expect about 11.0L/100km in normal city operation.
The four-speed automatic transmission has power and economy modes, selected by means of a button on the centre console. Overdrive fourth gear is selected by a button on the shift lever.
The transmission shifts smoothly although it can be a little too eager to change down in hilly road conditions. The five-speed manual works well and would better suit the enthusiastic driver.
Suspension is not the Pintara's best feature. The ride is soft on good roads but the car tends to float and wallow on uneven surfaces, with a lack of balance between front and rear. Understeer and lots of body roll are evident in faster corners.
Brakes are power-assisted discs all round and perform well when used hard.
The steering is power-assisted rack and pinion - standard for this class of vehicle - with good weight, particularly at higher speeds. Tyres are 195/65 on 14-inch rims.
The interior of the Pintara has an excellent combination of seating comfort, pleasant steering wheel, controls and instruments.
The rear seat will accommodate three adults in reasonable comfort with adequate leg room, although shoulder room is not generous. The centre traveller in the rear may find "bottoming" on the centre tunnel a problem on rough surfaces.
The Pintara requires servicing every 10,000km.
Spare parts when the car was new were reasonably priced compared with its rivals, although this may have changed due to the cessation of local production.
Generally, the Pintara is a competent car with a powerful but noisy engine, good fuel economy and interior fittings. Build quality from the Clayton Nissan plant was quite good but not up to fully imported Japanese standard, with occasional poor paint finish and panel fit.
The Pintara provides good, reliable family motoring.
The car's outstanding feature is its torquey three-valve engine which gives exceptionally good performance and driving flexibility while returning good fuel economy.
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