There’s a whole flotilla of quality small cars on the market these days so the Nissan Pulsar has its work cut out to impress in the highly competitive family hatchback market. The good news is that, like its bigger brothers the Qashqai and the X-Trail, the Pulsar impresses.
A while ago I had the chance to briefly road test the amazing Nissan GT-R. Part of the deal was that I also took a run out in a diesel Nissan Pulsar. It was good; the sort of car purchased by people with no real enthusiasm for the finer points of driving but who nevertheless require a decent motor for day to day life.
The Pulsar is offered with three 4-cylinder turbocharged engines to choose from, a 1.2 litre petrol that has a claimed average of 56.5mpg with a power output of 113bhp and a 1.5 litre diesel (as tested) with a claimed 78.5mpg and a power output of 108bhp.
The test car steps up into almost hot hatch territory with a new 1.6L Turbo petrol motor with a lively 187bhp on offer.
The Nissan Pulsar is available in various specification levels – Visia, Acenta, N-Tec and Tekna with prices starting from a reasonable £14,000 and rising to around £22,885 for the range-topping Tekna version shown here.
On The Inside
This version comes equipped with keyless entry, automatic wipers, 17” alloys, a range of Nissan’s safety technology and much more. Included in the safety package is an automatic braking system, a 360 degree camera to give the driver full visibility of the cars surroundings, plus a lane departure system, moving object detection and a great blind spot warning system and useful eco-features.
Where the Pulsar does steal a march on the opposition is with space. There's oodles of it. With a 2,700mm wheelbase Nissan have delivered a spacious interior; first in class by some margin. Back seat passengers especially win out in the leg stretching stakes. The whole cabin is an exercise in getting the most out of a confined space and that includes a deep boot.
It's comfortable too, with supportive leather-covered seats and a truly smooth ride, even on our rotten roads. With a CD, Aux and USB sockets music lovers are well catered for. Bluetooth and a good navigation system are standard at this price point.
I approve of the curvaceous dash with its bright, bold dials and comfortable steering wheel, in this case, with tasteful contrasting stitching. I’m not so keen on the silver grey plastic steering wheel embellishments. I’d have preferred perhaps a darker grey or maybe piano black to match the centre fascia. A sall niggle though.
On The Road
Interior space is one thing but the whole car has to be shifted up the road and the biggest surprise was saved for under the bonnet. I have driven the diesel version and it was something of a revelation (as above), proving to be very economical indeed. Keen drivers though will prefer this feisty petrol version which brings an element of performance to a family car.
The car is set up for comfort not speed so it doesn’t qualify in the hot hatch stakes but it still provides plenty of fun when driven with a touch of brio thanks to a suspension set-up that’s been fettled to handle the extra performance.
As a driving enthusiast I'm always looking for a little excitement and variation in new car design but car makers often don't see the world my way. In this case however Nissan have obliged.
Thus the Nissan Pulsar is smart and conventional as you would expect, but also offers some genuine positives for all-round motoring steerology. A family car with a little extra something up its sleeve. Good job Nissan.
Author: Geoff Maxted.