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Hi lovely readers! Lipstick and Gearsticks has been a little quiet in January. Well, there’s a rather good reason for it. I launched this blog late last year – my motoring obsession needed an outlet so I set my little blog up – pretty much just for me.
The traffic exploded a bit. Well, a lot. Which is really exciting, but it also means that within about a week I was already getting fed up with the limitations on the functionality of the blog. And as I got more traffic, more enquiries and more opportunities to do some very cool stuff, it got more irritating. So I’ve held off on posting because I’ve been doing some web development in the back end, and this weekend (as long as I haven’t broken anything) the blog is getting an upgrade with new functionality, more hosting, more features, and all of the good things.
I’ve got lots of content ready to go, as soon as the new version of Lipstick and Gearsticks is live. We’re looking forward to it! Mwah xx
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.
The glove compartment was named by Dorothy Levitt, a racing driver, total motorina and water speed record holder. Described on Wikipedia as a “scorcher”, the well-known motoring writer and journalist was the second documented female race driver (the first was Frenchwoman Camille du Gast).
She started breaking records in 1903 and among her gems of advice were that women should keep a revolver handy in their cars, and to have a small mirror to hand while driving “to hold aloft from time to time in order to see behind”. I must say I’m rather pleased this feature became standard in all cars pretty quickly. This advice is to be found in her book The Woman and the Car: A chatty little handbook for all women who motor or who want to motor (nifty title huh?!?) which you can still get in paperback.
I never think of the danger. That sort of thing won’t do. But I know it is omnipresent. The slightest touch of the hand and the car swerves, and swerves are usually fatal. But I am a good gambler, and always willing to take a chance.
I’ll leave you with this little nugget, which echos my view that there’s no value in being unnecessarily un-educated about your car. Yes, learn to change a tyre ladies. Let me know if you want me to make a ‘how to’ video.
I am constantly asked by some astonished people “Do you really understand all the horrid machinery of a motor, and could you mend it if it broke down? … the details of an engine may sound complicated and look “horrid”, but an engine is easily mastered.
It’s been an amazing year this year. So much has happened, and so much has changed. While I’m embarking on new adventures that I’m so passionate and rev-heady about, I wish you all a fabulous New Year’s Eve, and all the best for a cracking 2014. First cab off the rank is to settle down to watch the Dakar. It’s about my favourite thing in the world, aside from The Deadliest Catch, before the world goes all crazy busy again. Bring on the crazy busy! What are you guys up to for New Years, and what are your epic plans for 2014?
I hope 2014 brings you everything you wish for and more! Cheers, Row xx
An interesting cabinet indeed. Look closely at the doors. A great piece of interior decoration by the artist Jeroen Wesselink as inspired by the Citroen 2CV.
What does the actual car look like you ask? This.
William and Kate have a new car – the stunning Flying Spur – a new, £250,000 armored Bentley.
A Kensington Palace spokesman told the Daily Mail: “The Bentley is being leased by the Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry for official engagements, which is no different to any other member of the Royal family.”
The Flying Spur boasts a top speed of 200mph, wi-fi internet, an immaculate walnut interior, and being fully armoured, has triple glazed, bullet-proof windows with 1.5inch glass, hardened steel armour and tyres that don’t deflate when punctured. It will also be incredibly heavy, so while it will handle beautifully, their driver probably has excellent biceps and triceps. Shame he probably wears a Zegna suit every day instead of a singlet.
Good morning readers! The team at Hot Glue and HSV have created a rather fabulous Christmas Video. Just goes to show what a simple but clever idea and $100 of Christmas lights can create. Enjoy!
Safety has moved far on past the “an elephant could use that car as a trampoline & the people inside would be fine. Why? It’s a Volvo!” thinking. A lot of people have decided that “bigger is safer” for their families, & this has contributed hugely to SUV sales in Australia. But it’s not necessarily the case. So how do you make a decision – a rational one – about which car is a safe option for you?
In Australia, the ‘benchmark’, as you will, is The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), who market themselves as “Australia’s leading independent vehicle safety advocate”.
In a nutshell, ANCAP operates a vehicle safety rating program, where instead of giving five choc tops out to Sharknado as film of the year, they give out a star rating out of five. They also recommend that if a car you’re looking at doesn’t have a five choc-top, sorry, star, rating, you simply shouldn’t buy it. It should be outside of your consideration set.
ANCAP are all about a combination of independent crash testing and safety features (like ABS brakes, seat belt warnings & the like) to determine a car’s rating. To get the 5 star rating, a car has to hit best international standard on every item. There are four crash tests – pedestrian, pole, side impact & frontal impact.
So what is important to look for when you’re looking to shop savvy for your car?
- Structural integrity and a solid body. You do not want your car doors flipping open in a crash situation.
- Stability control, which is the car’s electronic brain being capable of reading when (for example you’ve swerved) you’ve lost control and it electronically ‘takes over’ the driving to get you out of a hairy spot. This is extra-important in SUVs, which have a higher centre of gravity. Stability control is called lots of things, depending on the car brand, but it could be ESP, ESC, DSC, ASC or VSC.
- Anti-lock brakes (ABS) which are brilliant at avoiding loss of control from hitting the brakes hard. ABS works hand in hand with other stability control systems to keep you safe and sound.
- Airbags (look for front, side, curtain & knee bags)
- Seat belts. Duh. Actually, no, I take that ‘Duh’ back because in 20% of Australia’s road fatalities, seatbelts were safely tucked up in their storage roll instead of strapping someone in safely. And dovetailing neatly into this, child restraints please. Suitable ones.
- And look out for the ANCAP rating. Five Sharknados please.
There are currently 242 cars in Australia with a five star ANCAP rating, so mosey on over here and see if yours (or one you’re considering) is one of them.
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