Remember when Nissan Pulsar’s plagued our roads like mosquitoes in the tropics? In particular the famous SSS hatch was a huge hit with red P platers in the late 90’s. The accompanying repulsive after-market exhaust was a prerequisite. Then suddenly one day Nissan produced the motoring equivalent of Mortein and eradicated them in one foul sweep of Louis The Fly’s best. In 2013 – the Pulsar is back.
The Pulsar as a vehicle didn’t disappear – just the name. For reasons known only to Nissan it was replaced by the Tiida. The what?
Well the famous nameplate has once again arrived on our shores, with Nissan hoping it will revive sales left decimated by the blight that was the peculiar looking Tiida.
The 10 minute test-drive
EFTM was recently granted permission to take the flagship 2013 Nissan Pulsar sedan Ti for a week’s leave from their Homebush, NSW headquarters.
Immediately I was struck by its size, both inside and out. Its dimensions are not far off a Camry. There’s ample leg room up front, out back it’s almost Commodore or Falcon levels of space.
The Ti model is handsomely equipped, with goodies like leather seats, sat-nav, xenon headlamps and a sunroof. It’s a relatively plush considering it is after all a Pulsar.
Hit the road and you will immediately notice the incredibly light steering. It’s easy to park and manoeuvre around at lower speeds. However on the open road I found the ultra light steering tune and floaty ride a fraction unnerving. I’d be reluctant to partake in an evasive piece of driving at speed. However it does corner quite well, with an adequately flat stance and decent grip levels.
Noise suppression is excellent on most quality stretches of road. However back roads and speed humps intrude more than they should into the cabin.
The Ti model comes equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) transmission, which extracts the absolute most from a surprisingly modest 1.8-litre 96kW four-cylinder unit. The unlimited spread of gear ratios works well albeit with a droning slipping clutch type feel under the pedal.
In’s and out’s
The 1.8-litre four-cylinder with its 96kW of power and 174Nm of torque is hardly the Pulsars most attractive asset. Functionality seems to have been at the forefront of Nissan’s approach. It’s all about the space wrapped in an attractive design. Boot space is more than generous and a ski port hole is available. But there are no split-fold rear seats.
Interior wise it’s no match for Mazda, VW or even Hyundai. Plastics boarder on disappointing and other design elements are simply bland. It’s far from an atrocity, but others do it better.
Thankfully the tested Ti model is heavy on desirables, dual-zone air-conditioning, leather on the seats and other trim; auto xenon headlamps with washers, tinted rear windows, an adequate satellite navigation system and push start smart key wizardry. 17- Inch alloy wheels, sunroof and rear spoiler complete the picture.
A full suite of safety systems including 6 air bags comes as standard across the range.
Traditionally the most desirable Pulsar has been the hatch model, in particular the SSS variant. We can expect those via boat from Thailand later this year.
Perhaps brag away once the hatch hits town?
The lasting impression
It’s a comfortable runabout that also could double as a relaxed long distance tourer if required. I doubt you’ll be left too disappointed with your investment, unless you borrow a mate’s Mazda 3 or Hyundai Elantra for a weekend.
The hip pocket
The Pulsar sedan range is divided into three levels. ST, ST-L and Ti.
The ST starts at $19,990; $23,650 gets you the ST-L while the Ti hits $28,990.
Capped priced serving runs for a lengthy 6 years, expect an average of $300 for each six monthly service.
As usual its fuel burning credentials didn’t quite match the claimed 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, I in fact hit 10. But that’s just me.
EFTM rubber stamp
There’s nothing blatantly wrong with the new Pulsar, although to extract decent punch from the underwhelming power plant you really need to invest in the pricier CVT unit.
It earns the EFTM pass stamp.