Nissan Pulsar: road test

Posted on March 20th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

It may lack a bit of razzmatazz, but for a family hatchback it ticks all the right boxes.

Nissan Pulsar: road test

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What is it?

The Nissan Pulsar is a stylish and economical five-door family hatchback that boasts an abundance of space for all occupants and generous luggage provisions. It sits between the Juke and Qashqai models and will challenge the Ford Focus, Kia cee’d and Hyundai i30.

How safe is it?

The vehicle has been awarded the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings and includes an impressive suite of safety features under the Nissan Safety Shield umbrella.

Who should buy one?
As the Nissan Pulsar has excellent safety credentials and is very big on space, it makes for the ideal family car. Add in the fact that it returns very respectable fuel economy figures and it becomes an attractive all-rounder.

Road test by Maxine Ashford, published 20 March2015

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Nissan Pulsar: road test

The Nissan Pulsar is the company’s first venture into the mid-sized family hatchback market since it axed its Almera model in 2006.
Now using the same highly-efficient engines that power some of the Qashqai line-up, Nissan has introduced the Pulsar which is very big on space and boasts some outstanding safety features.

It is available as a five-door hatchback and it looks smart from any approach thanks to 17-inch diamond cut alloys, privacy glass, a carbon effect rear diffuser, a high level rear spoiler, body-coloured door mirrors and handles, front fog lights and chrome trim. Other instantly-recognisable Nissan trademark features include the V-motion grille, boomerang headlights and strong curves.
The interior is kitted out with heated leather seats and plenty of on-board technology and with four richly-equipped trims to choose from along with two economical powertrains, there is ample choice for potential buyers.

The range-topping test car was powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine delivering 115PS and 165Nm of torque. It was mated to a six-speed manual gearbox that was smooth and responsive with a constant supply of power on tap.

It can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 10.7 seconds with a top speed of 118mph and according to official figures has carbon emissions of 117g/km and can achieve 56.5mpg on a combined run. After clocking up 150 miles on a mix of congested town centre roads and open country lanes and dual carriageways, I was seeing 45.3mpg.

One factor that is instantly noticeable about the Pulsar is how roomy it is for all occupants. This has been achieved thanks to the high roofline and large wheelbase.

In addition, the car is very pleasant and easy to drive. It is quite refined, very stable, well planted and comfortable for all occupants.
The acceleration is constant and sharp bursts of pace are achievable when overtaking is necessary. That said; a very steep and winding incline did warrant a few changes down through the gears as the power dropped away quite quickly.

The car is nicely insulated with little road or engine noise. In fact, even when driven quite hard the only sound to infiltrate the cabin is a little wind noise from the large door mirrors.
And despite a number of unexpected bumps, dips and cracks in the road surface, the Pulsar maintained its sure-footed grip with the efficient suspension system ironing out many creases along the way.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Nissan Pulsar: road test

This is an area where the Nissan Pulsar excels. The best-in-class 2,700mm wheelbase results in an exceptionally spacious interior and that means ample legroom for back seat passengers. In addition, the high roofline helps to create a bright and roomy interior with lots of headroom in the back.
The wide-opening rear doors are another notable factor making it all the simpler to get in and out of the vehicle. This also makes life simpler for parents trying to gain access to young children in child seats.
And with the family market very much in mind, the wide and deep boot is practical and can accommodate 816 litres of luggage. This capacity is increased top 1,381 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats lowered.
Elsewhere there is a good-sized glovebox, cup holders front and rear, a deep central bin and door pockets for storage purposes.
The Pulsar is 4,287mm in length, 1,768mm wide and 1,520mm in height. It is agile and easy to manoeuvre with a turning lock of 10.2metres and the excellent all-round visibility along with 360-degree view cameras makes parking an absolute doddle.

SAFETY
Nissan Pulsar: road test

As well as all the instantly recognisable safety features, the Nissan Pulsar boasts a colour front, rear and side Around View Monitor system. Tiny cameras mounted on the grille, door mirrors and tailgate all combine to deliver an overhead bird’s eye view of the car’s surroundings and in turn, this image is displayed on the car’s colour touchscreen.
This simple, yet ingenious technology means the driver can see what is around the car which is great for parking, but also very practical when reversing out of tight parking bays where children or animals may be crossing unseen.
The range-topping Tekna model also featured the likes of lane departure warning, blind spot warning, forward emergency braking, moving object detection, six airbags and plenty more – all of which helped the Nissan Pulsar achieve the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests.

EQUIPMENT
Nissan Pulsar: road test

The Nissan Pulsar has a simplistic, clutter-free layout with all dials and controls perfectly positioned for driver usability. There are plenty of techno treats included, especially on the range-topping Tekna model, such as a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen navigation and entertainment system, DAB digital radio, a six speaker audio system with CD player and USB/iPod connectivity.
In addition there is a reversing camera, heated seats, Bluetooth with microphone, dual zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, leather upholstery, idle start/stop, cruise control with speed limiter and plenty more besides – all of which is very easy to get to grips with.
There is quite a lot of cheap-looking plastic on display but smart contrasting inserts add a touch of class.

COSTS

Nissan Pulsar: road test
Prices for the Pulsar start from £15,995 for the entry-level 1.2 DIG-T petrol model in Visia trim which delivers 113bhp and can achieve 56.5mpg. The car is also available with a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel dCi 108bhp powertrain which, according to official figures, can deliver 78.5mpg on a combined run.
Buyers can choose from four trim levels – Visia, Acenta, n-tec and Tekna with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT automatic transmission available only on petrol models. Elsewhere the car is fitted with a six-speed manual transmission.

WE SAY

It may lack a bit of razzmatazz, but for a family hatchback it ticks all the right boxes.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £20,345
Performance: 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds
Economy: 56.5mpg combined
Insurance: Group 12
Tax: Band C (£0 first year)

Figures for the Nissan Pulsar Tekna 1.2 DIG-T (manual)