The Nissan Pulsar Hatch has been missing from the Australian market since 2006 but had a comeback in 2013, and the question had to be asked…. What was the point? We’re pretty well-catered for in the smallish car market, so it would have to be a standout to make its mark. Well, I can tell you there was a very big point to Nissan bringing the Pulsar back. It was one of the more fun cars I’ve driven in a while and I loved it. It also rounds out their range nicely. I drove the ST (CVT).
First impressions were that it has elegant but simple styling. I’ve said it about Nissan’s before – they are an unembarassing car. They may not have the most design flair on the market, but they definitely look good, and the Pulsar has a really pretty honeycomb grille that I adored.
The second thing I noticed was that the dash and steering wheel styling is really pretty. It’s dressed to impress with a blend of shiny and matt metallic finishes, and the cruise control was intuitive and seriously easy to use. It’s the sort of thing that makes me cranky if I can’t work it out right away because I don’t look at instructions if I can help it. The Pulsar also has a miniscule turning circle that gave me the happys (and I bet that’s not even a word).
Upon further investigation, the back seats had some serious space back there – the Pulsar is more of a mid-sized car than a small. So I assumed that the boot would have been sacrificed for the back seat leg room, but I was wrong. I filled it up with suitcases, laptops, a ridiculous large handbag, boxes of wine, pot plants, a sewing machine (don’t ask) and had room to spare. And this was AFTER I made a friend languish in the back seat (in the interests of science, of course) to make sure his 6’3″ frame would fit comfortably. And it did!
There’s a 60/40 split-fold rear seat that doesn’t fold flat down. This doesn’t worry me personally, but will annoy some. The model I drove, the ST, came with fabric seats that were comfortable and I thought looked OK, but one of my friends (who’s a fashion designer and should darn well know) had a higher opinion.
With all of that swag on board, including my mate, I took the Pulsar on a rather epic adventure. After a few days ripping around the city I packed her up and travelled around 320kms to Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland. That’s a highway run, but with a detour. I visited a friend’s farm via a nifty shortcut – a filthy, very winding and very fast dirt track through the Colquhoun State Forest. This is a track that nearly ended me a few years back in a Subaru Impreza. I pushed the Pulsar harder than the Impreza when I wiped out in it (20km an hour harder, which is a LOT on dirt) and it didn’t miss a beat. The braking on dirt was worth a five-choc-top rating. So there you have it.
This opinion may be an unpopular one, but the Nissan Pulsar Hatch, a front-wheel-drive, performed better than a rally-bred all-wheel-drive Impreza. And I say that as a total Subaru fan and past owner.
I loved the Pulsar Hatch and was a bit sad to send it back. I do think it’s a brilliant (in fact, a standout) car for people in regional and rural regions, and those who do a lot of highway travel around the suburban zones – it handles really well at speed and on less than great roads, and it’s a very comfortable ride. For hard-core city driving (and by that I mean 30kmh and traffic jams) it’s a good car, as the handling and agility, fuel consumption and speed off the blocks was not quite as responsive in the more sluggish driving environment. But don’t let that dissuade you – it just means it’s competitive in its class.
It’s quiet and it’s easy to get in and out of, and setting up kid seats and getting the critters in and out will be a breeze. There are cup holders. Very important criteria (I’m totally tragic like that because I treat cars as mobile pantries). The stereo did the job. Actually, now I think of it, I’m really critical of a bad stereo and the fact it didn’t even register on my horizon is a good sign. The steering wheel is adjustable so it was easy to get comfortable in my driving position.
Here are the stats:
- The Nissan Pulsar Hatch has a 5-star ANCAP Rating.
- The new Pulsar is available in a 4-door hatch and 4-door sedan.
- It’s available in both manual and auto (which Nissan calls CVT).
- Four models – two standard and two turbo.
- Engines are 1.8 petrol four (ST and ST-L), 1.6 turbo petrol four (ST-S, SSS)
- The SSS is the only model to have a reversing camera and they aren’t offered as options, so if you want one you’ll have to get it fitted by an external supplier.
- Bluetooth audio streaming is only available in the SSS, but Bluetooth phone and USB connectivity is standard in all of them.
The pricing sits as follows (without tricking it up. But it’s a really well-optioned range so you won’t need to go too nuts to get a fab deckout):
- Hatch ST Manual: $18,990
- Hatch ST Auto: $21,240
- Hatch ST-L: Manual: $22,490
- Hatch ST-L: Auto: $24,740
- Hatch ST-S (Turbo) Manual: $24,990
- Hatch ST-S (Turbo) Auto: $27,490
- Hatch SSS (Turbo) Manual: $29,240
- Hatch SSS (Turbo) Auto: $31,740
In conclusion, this car dealt with city travel well and is nifty to park. It was simple to drive, because who needs distractions when you’ve got back-seat drivers? It’s a great size and a lot roomier than you’d think. It totally owned highway driving, dirt tracks, braked like a boss, and even took on a few cow paddocks to deliver champagne and snacks to my lovely mates down on the jetty. It felt solid and planted. A lot of smaller cars feel light-on and a bit wiggly, but not the Pulsar.
There was nothing the Pulsar didn’t own like a boss. I just loved her. And I’m really glad that none of the cows wanted to chase her because I sure didn’t like it when they chased me.
Want to read more on the Nissan Pulsar Hatch? Head on over here.