His only issue and it is a major issue, is that the GT is chronically underpowered (150bhp) for the ring. I’m assuming he only did the two laps with the car, but he nailed to key points of the car namely that it’s fun and super competent.
So, should you rush out and buy one of these modern classics as a track toy?
First Things First
To modify a Primera GT you will probably need custom parts. There is next to no aftermarket support for this platform.
Generally, the Primera is ultra reliable, if you look after it. ie keep the oil levels topped up and change the oil regularly. Apart from that I personally don’t believe anything on the car is inherently unreliable. Assuming there are no leaks, it goes into gear, doesn’t pop out of gear and the engine doesn’t sound rattly it’s probably going to be decent.
Fundamentally it’s a very simple car.
Without wanting to contradict myself there are some inherent problems with the P11 chassis, if you want to take it on track.
The car is undertyred and there isn’t a lot of space for wider tyres. I’ve managed to get 225/40-18s on it but ride height needs to be perfect and so does the wheel offset.
Fuel starvation is a real problem. The car, on it’s standard 195/60-15 tyres can generate around 1G of cornering force. It will be more with 225 tyres. And even with 195 tyres fuel starvation is easy, if the tank is less than half full. It needs a fuel swirl pot.
This can also be an issue. MotoIQ used one as a track car and their solution was a slight overfill. They said this solved the problem without any undue problems.
No two ways about it, 150bhp is not enough. Misha’s Nurburgring lap made this really apparent. Full throttle for long periods of time.
A number of solutions here. The ultimate in my opinion is the SR20VET from the JDM Nissan X-Trail.
Get a complete engine with loom and sensors and gearbox and its more or less bolt in. This gives you 270bhp at 0.5 bar. Should be super reliable.
A bit down the price ladder there are two directions, turbo the stock engine or an SR20VE.
The VE is also near enough a bolt in. You’ll need something to tune AFRs, timing and activate the cams. A DET3 can probably do the job. The most expensive part of this solution is getting the engine. Considering how much extra you get from the VET, weigh up the price difference. An extra grand for the VET could be well worth it.
The other option is putting a turbo on the stock DE motor. They’re supposed to be okay up to 300 brake, the main issue is gearbox strength. 3 grand should be enough to get you running.
And the last option is an SR20DET from a Sunny/Pulsar GTIR. More reliable if you can get a complete engine but I expect its pricey. Engine management for any of these options is not going to be a major issue.
Things That Are OK
For track work, those are the problems I’ve encountered. What about things that people think are a problem?
280mm discs on the front. Personally, I’ve never had issues. When I’ve used proper brake fluid with decent pads (Roesch Carbon Kevlar). This is up to 200 brake. If you do the swaps above that give 250-300 brake, you might need something bigger.
Nice to Haves
What are some nice mods?
You should start from a saloon shell if at all possible. You get a lot of extra chassis stiffening at the rear with the saloon. Which must be a good thing. Aero might not be as good as the hatch, but I think the tradeoff is worth it.
As the owner said in Misha’s video, braces make a big difference. Personally, I use a Carbing front upper and front lower. These gave benefits in everything. Better ride, better steering feel and more grip.
The seats stock are great. They may not seem like it on first acquaintance, but I can do 12 hour stints no problem. They are supportive. But a set of buckets for a track car would be nice to have.
Getting a car without a sunroof will give you a head start. I think I read somewhere the sunroof adds 20kg to the roof.
The bonnet is also comically heavy.
Apart from that the usual things, seats, trim.
Nissans of this era are not stiff. A roll cage would be lovely. But nothing is available of the shelf. Custom cage will cost more than off the shelf.
Misha’s Nurburgring Lap in Summary
The Primera is a great car for road and track. The mods above will bring it up-to-date with modern cars while giving much more feedback and, in my opinion, being much more fun.
Just Because You Could, Does It Mean You Should?
Probably not. Due to the low availability of off the shelf parts, if you are going to build a proper track car, I think there are easy ways of doing it. You are only going to choose a Primera GT because you like the look of it or you like the idea of it.
A Primera is not going to be on your short list of potential track cars if you have no preference for any make or model. There are cars which are almost as good but can be made better for cheaper. Obvious candidates being E36 BMWs and EG Honda Civics. Endless aftermarket support and not so pricey.