Crossover king Nissan has turned it sights on the family hatchback market and we’ve got three months to find out how it measures up.
Following the success of its Qashqai crossover, Nissan is now gunning for the mid-sized family hatchback market with the Pulsar, which uses the same engines.
The five-door Pulsar, which is available with a choice of 1.2 or 1.6 petrol or 1.5 diesel engines, aims to compete with the likes of the Ford Focus, VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra, Hyundai i30 and the Kia Cee’d.
There are various levels of trim, from the entry-level Visia through to the Tekna – our test model is the 1.2 DiG-T Acenta. All come with alloy wheels, electric windows and air-con as standard.
Apart from the Visia, all models include a colour TFT display, six airbags, Bluetooth/iPod connectivity, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring and a CD player. Our Acenta also boasted automatic lights and windscreen wipers, dual zone air-con, fog lights, heated mirrors and leather steering wheel.
Go for the top of the range Tekna trim and you get leather upholstery, heated front seats, LED headlights, the NissanConnect infotainment system and a reversing camera, plus the full Nissan Safety Shield package, which features Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning and Surround Camera System.
Nissan freely admit that they’ve gone for refinement rather than a fun driving experience when it comes to the Pulsar, and it’s certainly very quiet to drive, even on motorways. Steering is accurate and it handles well, with decent grip. It’s easy to manoeuvre in and around town and parking is a breeze.
The overall ride is pretty good, even over bumpy cobbled streets, but I have to confess that I personally didn’t find the seats the most comfortable in their class. You can’t complain about the interior space though, with that boxy shape meaning there’s plenty of head and legroom both front and back. The Pulsar is only marginally longer than the Focus, for instance, but is roomier inside.
The boot is a generous 385 litres, and if you fold the split rear seating flat, this rises to 1.395 litres.
The car itself has a light, airy feel to it, with good all-round visibility, and the dashboard and controls are all conveniently-placed and easy to use. The stop-start technology felt particularly responsive. The Pulsar also scores highly when it comes to safety, achieving five stars in the Euro NCAP tests.
Private buyers would probably be better off sticking with the 1.2 petrol, although the diesel may well score extra brownie points in the company car market thanks to its lower CO2 emissions and tax bills.
It may not be the most exciting drive in its class, but, having been designed with comfortable, convenience and practicality in mind, the Pulsar is very competent in almost every area. It’s quiet, roomy, reasonably well-equipped and comfortable both as a driver or as a passenger.
It’s not going to set your pulse racing, but if you’re looking for a mid-sized family hatch with a decent spec and excellent levels of interior room and comfort, then the Pulsar is definitely worthy of your consideration.
Car in facts
Engine: 1.2-litre petrol producing 113bhp, 140lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the front wheels
Performance: Top speed 118mph, 0-62mph 10.7 seconds