If you’re not bothered about hardcore hot-hatch performance, but you need a family car with space and refinement, then the Nissan Pulsar isn’t a bad choice, says motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay.
The Nissan Pulsar is very well kitted out, especially if you opt for the top-of-the-range Tekna spec. Peer inside and you’ll see things that might look familiar if you’ve ever been in a Qashqai. That’s because the Pulsar shares the Nissan Qashqai’s gearstick, clocks, central display and steering wheel.
The five-door hatchback has lots of head and leg room for four adults and their luggage. Lift the tailgate and you’ll find 385-litres of boot space, significantly more than the 316 litres found in the Ford Focus, which is a family hatchback favourite. It’s also a hushed and efficient car, even if you buy the Nissan Pulsar 1.6 DIG-T 190.
Performance & Ride
With a top speed of 135mph and a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds, the Nissan Pulsar DIG-T 190 is the most powerful Pulsar there is. It’ll still return an average of 47.9mpg, though, and only emits 138/km of CO2. The black and white performance figures look impressive, but the Pulsar doesn’t feel hot-hatch quick by any means. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t hang about, it just doesn’t have lots of low down punch, so there’s no genuine excitement to be had. Drive the Nissan Pulsar on a country lane and the car gives plenty of grip and has accurate steering. The brakes are excellent, and the six-speed manual gearbox offers easy, precise gear changes. Push the car too hard, however, and the hatchback suffers from some body roll, so caning the corners is not its strong point. But are speed and exhilaration essential factors for a family car? Not at all – as long as room, efficiency, refinement and comfort are in plentiful supply – and the Nissan Pulsar provides all of this.
Because my Nissan Pulsar DIG-T 190 test car was the range topping Tekna model, I enjoyed little luxuries – such as heated leather seats and a steering wheel with white stitching. This trim level also comes with a safety package that includes, Lane Departure Warning, Moving Object Detection, Forward Emergency Braking, and Blind Spot Warning. The technology is fantastic to have, and the extra frills serve to make the Pulsar less ‘middle-of-the-road’ inside.
While it’s nice to have a little bit of ‘oomph’ on tap, it’s hard to justify spending the extra money on the 1.6 DIG-T 190 engine, unless you’re unwavering in your desire for a bit of petrol perkiness. There’s a 1.2 litre petrol-powered Pulsar that can be bought in Tekna trim, too. It’s cheaper to buy and run – but has all the above-mentioned kit, so this might make more sense – although it is slower. There’s a 1.5 dCi diesel to consider, too. But when all is said and done, the Pulsar is a safe car, whichever level of trim or engine you choose. It was awarded the top five-star rating in 2014’s Euro NCAP crash tests, and was particularly praised for giving the same excellent level of protection to adults and children of different shapes and sizes. The assessments involved using the vehicle safety body’s toddler-sized crash test dummy – which should offer reassurance to you if, like me, you’re a parent of young children.
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Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Roomy √
- Safe √
- Kit √
- Grip √
- Body Roll X
Fast Facts (DIG-T 190 Tekna)
- Max speed: 135 mph
- 0-62 mph: 7.7 secs
- Combined mpg: 47.9
- Engine layout: 1,616 cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
- Max. power (PS): 190
- CO2: 138 g/km
- Price: £23,015