Test Opel Vectra, Mitsubishi Carisma, Nissan Primera
DEBT WAY TO PERFECTION
The second generation of "Opel Vectra" debuted in 1995. Four years later, the car was restyled. Sedan, hatchback and station wagon are produced. Engines - ECOTEC series: gasoline, 1.6 (eight- and sixteen-valve); 1.8; 2.0; 2.5 liters, as well as two options for a 2-liter turbodiesel (82 and 100 liters. From.). Transmission - a five-speed manual or four-speed “automatic” (only with gasoline engines).
Mitsubishi Karisma has been produced at the NedKar plant in the Netherlands since 1995, and a year ago, in 1999, it was modernized. Body - sedan and hatchback. It is equipped with 1.6 and 1.8 liter gasoline engines (the latter is of the GDI type with direct fuel injection into the cylinders) or a 1.9-liter turbodiesel. All motors can be aggregated with a five-speed manual gearbox, and gasoline, in addition, with a four-speed "automatic".
Nissan Primera, manufactured in Sunderland (England), acquired its current form in 1999 after a deep modernization of the 1996 second-generation model of the “model”. Sedan, hatchback and station wagon are produced. The range of engines includes 1.6 petrol units; 1.8 and 2.0 liters or 2.0 liter turbodiesel. A mechanical five-speed gearbox is installed on all cars, and a V-belt CVT is also provided for the most powerful gasoline.
Models of leading world companies live on the assembly line for six or eight years, undergoing during this time one, less often two modernizations, and then are replaced by new ones, but almost certainly under the same, well-known name. That is why the biographies of the three middle-class cars that visited our test are so similar. All of them are assembled in Europe, since they are designed specifically for this market, they all appeared in the mid-90s and modernized at the end of the decade. For greater similarity, we picked up exactly the same cars - sedans with 1.6-liter stately engines and manual gearboxes, in similar trim levels - and, as a result, close in price: Opel Vectra - $ 18, 500, Mitsubishi Karisma - $ 17 500, Nissan Primera (ZR, 1999, No. 9) - $ 17, 300.
First of all, we note that the “facelift” benefited all three cars: the Vectra frowned slightly and stuck out her lip, demonstrating a more assertive character; “Karisma” gained individuality, getting rid of the unflattering resemblance to the less prestigious “Lancer”; "Primera" has ceased to be a gray mouse and is now remembered at first sight. Large fifteen-inch wheels associated with massive brakes and a powerful engine make it possible for Opel and Nissan to look more expensive than their rivals with an inch-smaller shoe. “Mitsubishi” attracts attention with a significant ground clearance - for Russia it has been increased from 155 mm (already considerable for a foreign car) to 170. However, this advantage also had a downside, but about it a little further.
… Frost sneaks - it’s time to check the electric seat heating, which is very useful on all three cars, the “stove”, and at the same time the comfort of the plastic-velor interiors. In order not to repeat ourselves in the future, we immediately note some common items in the configurations: ABS, two front airbags, central locking, immobilizer, electric mirrors and front (Mitsubishi also has rear) power windows, power steering and angle-adjustable column, climate setting -control (at "Opel" just air conditioning), an audio system (at "Nissan" audio preparation), fog lights (except for "Opel"), headlight washer (except for "Mitsubishi").
When describing the Opel-Vectra, the definition of “the most” will be used: the largest doorways, the most spacious interior, the largest ranges of adjustments - the longitudinal, driver's seat and steering wheel angle (as much as 24 ° versus 4–5 ° for competitors). What can you do, the belly rests on the steering wheel much faster on beer than on rice, and the Germans know this very well. Traditionally, they are scrupulous in matters of safety: not only the front but also the rear belts are adjustable in height, in addition to the two front ones, there are two side airbags, and the alarm is installed at the factory. But not everything is so good: the wide center console does not leave much leg room, but somewhere behind its base the accelerator pedal is hiding. Despite the large adjustment ranges, it is not always possible to find the optimal ones. Archaic control of lighting equipment - a pull-out switch; you are looking for electric window buttons on the doors, and they are on the central tunnel; the interior lighting is clearly not enough with one modest light bulb in the center.
Now we quickly jump into Mitsubishi Karisma. Here … Christmas sticks! The concave frame of the tailgate strives to travel in physiognomy. Yes, and have to slam the door pretty much. The cabin here is of the most modest size: the three behind are cramped both in width and in height, and the front passenger, bending over, rests on the visor. But they conquer the chairs. And it's not even the five adjustments for the driver. It's just that they are very comfortable - moderately soft, with excellent, but unobtrusive lateral support and a record-high, almost to the knee pillow. In such a chair, you can strain yourself, portraying Schumacher, and enjoy the long-haul flight while having fun with the on-board computer. But the range of steering wheel adjustments was shifted down - even with a growth of 175 cm, the driver strives to “pull up” the wheel all the way. The main beam turns on and off, and "blinks" when you press the steering column switch once - you still need to get used to it. Nevertheless, according to the total assessment, the driver's seat here was the most convenient.
What will please the Nissan Primera? Ease of landing and disembarkation, spacious rear - in the backs of the front seats are recesses for the knees, a voluminous “glove compartment”. At the same time, elements of the interior eat too much space: the front panel, the console, pockets, handles, and stampings on the doors. The shape of the handle on the box lever is original, but controversial - like a faceted, decanter neck expanding upward. It is a pity that the headlight corrector handle with its clear symbols was driven into an absolutely invisible zone - under the right elbow. This is all the more inexplicable in the car, the instruction to which carefully warns against using the cigarette lighter in motion, so as not to be distracted from the control. Unlike the previous two cars, the door lock buttons are not visible from the outside, and the electric windows do not have the functions of delaying the blackout when the ignition is turned off and there is no “back-off” if there is any object, say, fingers of a gaping passenger, under the closing glass.
Having warmed up in turn in three salons, the body came to life - the desire to steer was awakened.
"Opel Vectra" did not want to start abruptly - skidding wheels danced on the pavement, causing the front end to vibrate. The second attempt - the result is the same - the accelerator pedal is very sharp and it is necessary to dose the gas supply, especially on slippery surfaces, carefully. But the steering wheel is good and optimally combines lightness and information. Which is very helpful. “Adjusting” the trajectory with the accelerator pedal is problematic, at least on slippery roads. Vectra reacts with great reluctance to the discharge or supply of gas.
The outside mirrors of Vectra are without a doubt the most stylish, but give the narrowest sector of view, one third less than, say, Karizma.
"Opel" seemed a little noisy in motion. Having believed the harmony with algebra, we received confirmation - yes, indeed, the noise level is higher than that of rivals, by 2-6 decibels in almost all modes, although the motor is quite quiet. But the “stove” here is the most vociferous.
“Mitsubishi Karisma” proved itself to be the exact opposite: lively, quite sharp in reactions, with a fairly sharp steering. (By the way, the steering wheel itself is unexpectedly large in diameter.) And given the good “bottoms” of the motor and the ability to easily adjust the steepness of the trajectory by supplying gas, starting the car into a turn at least forward, at least sideways … In general, the car is a little “hooligan”.
But here it is, fly in the ointment: a knock in the suspension when driving not the largest irregularities. What's the matter? Measurements showed that the suspension rebound moves here are only 35 and 50 mm (respectively, front and rear). Is it any wonder that on the bumps of the wheel every now and then literally hang in the air. Most likely, the point is precisely in those 15 mm “Russian package”. For comparison, the “Examples” moves are 47 and 65 mm, and the “Vectra” - 90 and 75 mm. You can be glad for the owners of Opel, if not for one circumstance - the measured ground clearance on a fully loaded car was 120 mm. The bottom point is a catalytic converter with a “weight” of eight hundred dollars …
Nissan Primera turned out to be somewhat similar to both rival classmates. The reactions to the driver’s action are clear, correct, unambiguous, but slightly slowed down, non-provocative. The steering wheel is quite “viscous”, with an almost constant effort; similar sensations from the accelerator pedal. However, the "cotton" pedal has its own advantage - it is difficult to break the wheels into a slip. Interesting rear suspension "Examples". Structurally, it is similar to that used on Moskvich-2141, but instead of Panar’s lateral traction, it is an exotic Scott-Russell mechanism that provides strictly vertical wheel movement.
It's time to catch my breath and, after looking through the service book, to summarize the experience. Warranty for "Opel" is only a year, but without limitation of mileage. But “Mitsubishi” and “Nissan” were generous for three years with a range of 70 and 100 thousand km, respectively.
Well, choosing the best car is hard - it's easier to synthesize. Now, if we took the interior and steering wheel from Vectra, seats, ergonomics of the driver’s seat and ground clearance from Karizma, and the spacious back seat, comfort and guarantee from Examples, it would have turned out … However, it’s difficult to achieve the ideal, and in striving for it, each of the three competitors succeeded in its own way.
Photo by Vladimir Knyazev
+ Large doorways, a spacious interior, a light informative steering wheel, large ranges of steering and seat adjustments, side airbags - as standard.
- Low ground clearance, overly sensitive gas pedal, front vibration, increased noise, small exterior mirrors.
+ Large ground clearance, very comfortable seats, sharp steering, clear, quick reactions on the road.
- Insufficient suspension rebound, not very comfortable landing back, modest dimensions of the cabin.