• Nissan Pulsar 1.2 DIG-T Tekna £20,345
  • Engine: 1.2-litre petrol unit producing 114bhp and 122lb/ft of torque
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the front wheels
  • Performance: Top speed 118mph, 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds
  • Economy: 56.5mpg combined Emissions: 117g/km of CO2


A NEW car for an already crowded market is the best way to describe Nissan’s Pulsar, which does make the Japanese firm’s task of shifting the five-door hatch a tough one.

It’s almost a decade since Nissan last offered a conventional hatchback. A pioneer of the now ubiquitous compact crossover SUV, it walked away from that sector to follow an SUV dream. And while that proved a roaring success, it also now wants a slice of the more conventional pie. The recipe is simple: two engines, lots of kit and funky Qashqai-esqu looks.

You can excuse Nissan for wanting to trade on the success of its Qashqai crossover. That the Pulsar sports a similar looking nose is no accident. Reinventing the wheel is hard, which is why the rest of the Pulsar is broadly similar to a host of other five-door family hatchbacks.

Crucially, Nissan’s using the carrot of class-leading space to attract potential buyers, and there’s no denying cabin room is generous - families take note. Also, the Japanese firm’s reputation for offering clever infotainment and safety kit is well established and evident in the Pulsar.

The Pulsar easily trumps many of its conventional rivals for rear cabin space thanks to a stretched wheelbase. At the rear the car’s boot is also a good size, while oddment storage around the cabin has been well thought out. All in all, the Pulsar is a versatile and family car for those not sold on the SUV concept.

The Pulsar offers a good balance of refinement and a reasonably engaging driving experience.

Key to the car’s performance is a well sorted ride that’s not too firm but does a good job of resisting pitch and roll at speed. The various controls are engineered with plenty of accuracy, while the driving position isn’t short of adjustment potential. Nissan has taken a modest approach at launch with its engine range, and the 1.2-litre petrol motor tested here is no slouch in the real world despite ‘only’ possessing 114bhp. If you want more low down grunt, there’s always the company car-friendly 1.5-litre diesel.

Nissan is keen to promote the Pulsar as a value for money proposition. Standard equipment levels are generous, while the cost options include kit you’d normally only find on more expensive models. Think options like collision and blind spot warning systems, reversing camera, Internet-enabled infotainment systems and powerful LED headlight. And as for the asking price, the Pulsar is keenly positioned below the likes of the Golf and Focus.

If you’ve heard good things about Nissan - and it’s difficult not to - and put a higher priority on value for money than on-the-limit handling, the Pulsar is worth considering. Looks-wise it trades heavily on its maker’s hugely successful range of SUVs, while the car’s basic underpinnings and power train technology are proven items that are unlikely to prompt you to dig deep come servicing time. The engines are pretty frugal too, which should do much to lower the total cost of ownership.

This car summed up in a single word: faithful If this car was a…: a fading pop band – it would a solid performing, return-to-fame albumNissan’s not stupid, though, and is fully aware that it needs to make an extra effort to get people to take the plunge.Crossovers are often purchased because they boast more space than a similar family hatch, yet tNissan’s targets are the likes of Toyota’s Auris and the rapidly improving Korean players, so don’t expect Ford Focus levels of precision here. That said, this newcomer can hold its head up high - it does nothing wrong.