Nissan now has finger right back on the Pulsar

07:12 11 December 2014

New Pulsar gives Nissan a contender in the mid-size family hatchback market again.

New Pulsar gives Nissan a contender in the mid-size family hatchback market again.


The Pulsar is back and it sees Nissan return to the traditional family hatch market. Iain Dooley, of the Press Association, drives it.

What’s new?

The Nissan Pulsar is a new car for an already crowded market which makes the Japanese company’s task of shifting the five-door hatchback a tough one. But Nissan is fully aware it needs to make an extra effort to get people to take the plunge.

It’s almost a decade since Nissan last offered a conventional hatch. A pioneer of the compact crossover sport utility vehicle, it walked away from that sector to follow an SUV dream. While that proved a roaring success, it also now wants a slice of the more conventional pie. The recipe is simple – two engines, lots of kit and funky Qashqai-esque looks.

Nissan Pulsar

■ Price: Nissan Pulsar 1.2 DIG-T Tekna £20,345 (range £15,995 to £21,945)

■ Engine: 1.2-litre, 115PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol

■ Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the front wheels

■ Performance: 0-62mph 10.7 seconds; top speed 118mph

■ MPG: 56.5 combined

■ CO2 emissions: 117g/km

Looks and image

You can excuse Nissan for wanting to trade on the success of its Qashqai crossover. That the Pulsar sports a similar-looking nose is no accident. That said, reinventing the wheel is hard, which is why the rest of the Pulsar is similar to a host of other five-door family hatchbacks.

Crucially, Nissan’s using the carrot of class-leading space to attract potential buyers, and there’s no denying that cabin room is generous – families take note. Its reputation for also offering clever infotainment and safety kit is well established and evident in the Pulsar.

Space and practicality

Crossovers are often bought because they boast more space than a similar family hatch, yet the Pulsar easily trumps many of its conventional rivals for rear cabin space thanks to a stretched wheelbase. The boot is also a good size, while storage around the cabin has been well thought out. All in all, the Pulsar is a versatile and family car for those not sold on the SUV concept.

Behind the wheel

The Pulsar offers a good balance of refinement and a reasonably engaging driving experience. Nissan’s targets are the likes of Toyota’s Auris and the rapidly improving Korean car-makers, so don’t expect Ford Focus levels of precision here. That said, this newcomer can hold its head up high – it does nothing wrong.

Key to the car’s performance is a well-sorted ride that’s not too firm but does a good job of resisting pitch and roll at speed. The controls are engineered with plenty of accuracy, while the driving position isn’t short of adjustment potential. Nissan has taken a modest approach at launch with engines, and the 115PS 1.2-litre petrol motor is no slouch in the real world. If you want more low-down grunt, there’s the company car-friendly 110PS 1.5-litre diesel.

Value for money

Nissan is keen to promote the Pulsar’s value. Standard equipment levels are generous, while the cost options include kit you’d normally only find on more expensive models – collision and blind spot warning systems, reversing camera, internet-enabled infotainment systems and powerful LED headlights. And as for the asking price, the Pulsar is keenly positioned below the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Focus.

Who would buy one?

If you’ve heard good things about Nissan – and it’s difficult not to – and put a higher priority on value than on-the-limit handling, the Pulsar is worth considering. Looks-wise it trades heavily on its maker’s hugely successful range of SUVs, while the underpinnings and powertrain technology are proven items that are unlikely to prompt you to dig deep come servicing time. The engines are pretty frugal too, which should do much to lower the total cost of ownership.


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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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