Britain hasn’t had a Bluebird since 1990, when the Primera arrived. But it’s a car that many of us will remember as the ubiquitous ‘90s minicab: for about five years it felt that every private hire trip I took was in the back of a blue-smoking 2.0D version.
Anyway, I digress – but not by as much as you might suspect. Because somehow during the last 18 years and however many subsequent iterations, the Japanese-spec Bluebird still shares some recognisable characteristics with the ones I remember: this must be the last car in the world to feature velour panels on the insides of its doors.
Power now comes from a 2.0 litre four cylinder petrol engine, with drive heading forwards through a standard CVT slusher. Suspension settings are pillow soft and the controls all have Nissan’s trademark 1990 over-lightness.
I drove it back-to-back with an American market Nissan Altima, complete crashy over-hard suspension, feel-free steering and an alarmingly over-enthusiastic launch from its own “sports tuned” CVT transmission. I have to admit that, desperately unfashionable though it is, I far preferred the Bluebird.
And I also suspect that, now the Primera has died, Nissan would find a small but loyal band of buyers if the Bluebird was re-introduced into the UK. If nothing else, it would give minicab drivers something to choose other than the seemingly-mandatory Skoda Octavia.