Following up on the success of their Qashqai and Juke models, Nissan are now firmly back in conventional hatchback territory with the Pulsar. In terms of looks this latest offering springs no surprises and doesn’t bring anything dangerously different to a fiercely competitive sector of the automotive marketplace. As you can see from the images the Pulsar follows the accepted design thinking for the small family car and adds some discreet contours along the body line whilst retaining brand identity.
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. I set the driver seat to ideally suit my preference for a reasonably straight-legged position and then sat behind myself with knee room to spare. The whole cabin is an exercise in getting the most out of a confined space.
It’s comfortable too. The tested model was in mid-range Acenta trim with attractive cloth material and a good selection of technology and storage. With a CD, Aux and USB sockets music lovers are well catered for. Bluetooth is standard but no navigation in this case. Higher level models get more, obviously, and this includes leather plus, on the safety list, high-tech lane-departure warning, forward emergency braking, blind spot warning and moving object detection to name but four of the available safety options.
With prices ranging from around £15,000 to £21,000 depending, it pays to check out West Way Nissan Pulsar to configure the Pulsar to suit your budget. On the tested model the leather steering wheel had useful thumb-friendly buttons for some operations including cruise control. I realise that a car interior needs a few highlights to lift the ambience but I personally didn’t care for the colour of the wheel centre. I would have preferred something more in keeping with the smart piano-black dash. Maybe it’s just me. There’s a fair bit of plastic on show across the dash but it is nicely sculpted and textured and much of it is soft-touch.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. There’s a 1.2L 114bhp petrol engine on offer but you’ll want the diesel motor as tested in our car. It’s a 1.5L DCI unit of 109bhp and it is something of a revelation. With 191lb/ft of torque, once on the move this family hatch is powerful enough for your everyday needs and, crucially, it is very quiet indeed. Couple this with a comfortable ride and the Pulsar offers a cosseting experience. Inevitably, as is common these days, the steering is overly light but on the go the car makes for a decent driver overall. Nissan reckon the Pulsar could achieve 78.5mpg but here in the real world we saw just shy of 60mpg which is still good value.
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. Thus the Nissan Pulsar is smart but conventional and although it will never get the pulses racing, as a small family car with some genuine positives to offer it is certainly one for the shortlist.