After some time off, Nissan is back with a hatchback.

Introduction

The Pulsar is Nissan’s re-entry into the mid-sized family hatchback market it deserted in 2006 to launch the Qashqai. Introduced in 2014, and technically the sixth-generation car to bear the name, the Pulsar offers lots of equipment and interior space, with excellent refinement. Safety and technology feature highly, too.

 

Body Style: Hatchback              Seats: 5                MRP from £12,995 - £20,845

 

Did you know? At 692mm, the Nissan Pulsar boasts the best rear legroom in its class. Thank a class-leading 2,700mm wheelbase.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (6.9/10)

The Pulsar re-introduces the concept of a more traditional Nissan family hatchback. With value very much to the fore, there are four trim levels, lots of standard equipment, and an array of safety features. A choice of two petrol and three diesel engines means there should be a Pulsar to suit most pockets, while a class-leading wheelbase and rear legroom enhance the five-door Nissan’s practicality. If you are asking the spacious and practical family hold-all question – and don’t want an SUV – the impressively refined Pulsar may provide the answer.

Design & Exterior

★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (3/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

 

2017 Nissan Pulsar

We Like

Lots of standard equipment

Refinement

Rear legroom

We Don't Like

Styling is a little uninspired

Some safety kit is only available on higher-spec cars

Dull to drive

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior:★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (3/10)

2017 Nissan Pulsar

The Nissan Pulsar looks conventional, taking inspiration from the Qashqai SUV as well as the all-electric Leaf. In fact, if the Leaf was designed to appear less ‘technological', the Pulsar would most probably be the result. The family resemblance is unmistakable.

Sharp creases break up the body sides, while sideways-inverted arrowhead-shaped taillights add a distinctive touch. Somewhat at odds with its conservative character, a honeycomb front grille, rear spoiler and carbon-effect diffuser add sporty flourishes. Two-tone alloy wheels on most trim levels help smarten up the Pulsar’s overall appearance, too.

If there is a downside, it’s that the Pulsar could be mistaken for its Korean Kia Cee’d and Japanese Toyota Auris rivals, as its shape and overall look is very similar. Nissan’s mid-sized hatchback also lacks the classy confidence exuded by the Volkswagen Golf.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Nissan Pulsar

The interior of the Nissan Pulsar is a comfortable place to be. There’s a hint of Renault in the way the central console is designed, and chrome touches add a slightly upmarket feel. The plastic strip across the middle of the dashboard has a disappointing ‘wood grain’ texture, but the quality of materials feels robust, enough even if the overall design isn't the most inspired. Thanks to slim pillars, visibility is a Pulsar strong-point.

Practicality

The five-door-only Pulsar seats five passengers with ease. A class-leading 2,700mm wheelbase means generous legroom for both front and rear occupants. In fact, legroom in the rear is the best in class at 692mm, and the front seats enjoy a wide range of adjustment. A height-adjustable driver’s seat is standard on all Pulsars, with a similarly elevating passenger seat on N-Connecta cars and above.

Boot space

Min: 385 litres
Max: 1,395 litres

The Nissan Pulsar has a square-shaped 385-litre boot, which aids practicality. However, like its Leaf stablemate, there is a high lip to load things over. Usefully, all Pulsar models have 60:40 split rear seats as standard, but when folded, there is a noticeable step from the boot floor.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Nissan Pulsar

All Nissan Pulsars feature a five-inch high-definition colour TFT screen as standard, along with Bluetooth/USB/AUX connectivity. There is also an AM/FM/CD audio system, alarm, remote central locking and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

From Acenta trim upwards, Nissan’s Intelligent Key and push-button start system is included, in addition to automatic headlamps and wipers, and an anti-dazzle rear-view mirror. As you might expect from the designation, N-Connecta trim Pulsars include the Nissan Connect 5.8-inch touchscreen navigation and entertainment system, which also features DAB digital radio and a reversing camera.

Tekna-grade cars gain ‘Smart Vision with Around View Monitor’: a comprehensive safety system with colour cameras to deliver panoramic views of the car – including split-screen close-ups of the front, rear and side – to ease parking. There are also lane-departure warning, moving-object detection and blind-spot warning systems, which make up Nissan’s ‘Safety Shield’ technology package.

Ahead of the driver, a five-inch TFT display presents caller ID, audio, navigation, Safety Shield and tyre-pressure information.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling:★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5/10)

2017 Nissan Pulsar

Two petrol engines and one diesel are offered. Both petrols have direct injection and are turbocharged to provide good performance. The 115hp 1.2-litre DIG-T provides a decent turn of speed, good flexibility, and impressive refinement, while the 190hp 1.6-litre DIG-T offers a genuine step up in performance. The ubiquitous Renault-sourced 110hp 1.5-litre dCi is the only diesel on offer, and it trails the 1.2-litre petrol on get-up-and-go, as well as being noisier on the move.

To drive, the Pulsar isn't as entertaining as either a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, but it is a safe and predictable choice. There’s a fine amount of grip, and the steering is decently-weighted but light enough to make the Pulsar easy to drive in town. The six-speed manual gearbox has a tight feel, while an absorbent ride smooths out lumps and bumps. However, the car can feel unsettled on anything but the smoothest surfaces.

Recommended engine: 1.2 DIG-T 115 manual

0-62mph

10.7 seconds

Fuel economy

65.7mpg

Emissions

117g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Nissan Pulsar

When it was tested in 2014, the Nissan Pulsar scored a maximum five stars from Euro NCAP.

Safety is high on the Nissan Pulsar’s agenda, with every version featuring electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, plus driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, electronic stability  control and tyre-pressure monitoring.

There are Isofix child-seat mountings, as well as child-proof locks on the rear doors. Every model bar the entry-level Visia also gets automatic emergency braking, while options such as Smart Vision with Around-View Monitor are available as you move up the range.

Similarly, Nissan’s comprehensive array of ‘Safety Shield’ tech, as well as LED headlamps, can be specified either as standard or as an option on lower grade models.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Nissan Pulsar

Colours

The Nissan Pulsar’s colour palette is made up of nine finishes, and surprisingly, every paint shade incurs a cost. Alabaster White and Flame Red are the only solid colours available at a £250 premium. Metallic Black, Azure, Bronze, Force Red, Starburst Silver, and Twilight Grey finishes are £575 extra. Pay £745 and you can have Storm White pearlescent paintwork.

Coloured body side mouldings are £180 extra and come in black, grey, silver or grey, while a ‘Chrome’ style pack for the side sills and mirror caps is £278 – and can also be ordered in black or white finishes.

Trims

The Nissan Pulsar is available in four trim levels: Visia Limited Edition, Visia, Acenta, and range-topping Tekna. All Pulsars have body-coloured door handles, a carbon-effect rear diffuser, chrome window surrounds, manual air conditioning, a rear spoiler and remote central locking as standard.

Entry-level Visia Limited Edition and Visia cars add an AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers, electrically-adjustable door mirrors and 16-inch steel wheels. Options include 16-inch alloys, as well as a spare wheel.

Move up to Acenta trim and you get six speakers, dual-zone climate control, front fog lights, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, a rear-centre armrest and 16-inch two-tone alloys. In addition, DIG-T 190 cars also receive a chrome exhaust finisher, darkened bezel sport LED headlights, plus wheels an inch larger in size.

N-Connecta offers a DAB radio, driver and passenger seat lumbar support (the passenger seat also gains height adjustment), a front sliding armrest, part-leather trim, rear privacy glass and 17-inch alloy wheels. N-Connecta DIG-T 190 models get the same extra kit as the similarly-engined Acenta cars. Options include Nissan’s Smart Vision with Around View Monitor, as well as LED lighting.

Range-topping Tekna models are well-equipped, with the Around View Monitor, electric folding door mirrors, ’Graphite’ heated leather seats, 18-inch two-tone alloys (not on CVT cars) and a host of complex safety systems all included. Once again, DIG-T 190 cars come with the same additional signifiers as Acenta and N-Connecta.

Dimensions

If it will already hold a family hatchback, the Nissan Pulsar should slot into your garage without fuss. It’s only marginally longer and taller than a Volkswagen Golf.

Length 4,387mm
Width 1,768mm (without mirrors), 2,017mm (with mirrors)
Height 1,520mm
Max towing weight (braked) 1,200kg (manual), 500kg (Xtronic CVT) 

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Nissan Pulsar

All Nissan Pulsars come with stop-start technology to reduce emissions and make them more fuel-efficient. The cleanest model is the dCi 110, which has CO2 emissions of 94g/km as a manual with 16- or 17-inch wheels. Versions with 18-inch rims emit 4g/km more. The cleanest of the petrol models is the 1.2 DIG-T 115, at 117g/km – again, with smaller wheels. Emissions of the DIG-T 190 start at 134g/km.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the diesel Pulsars that can claim to be the most economical, at 78.5mpg (74.3mpg with 18-inch rims). While, at 47.9mpg, the 1.6 DIG-T 190 drinks the most fuel over the combined cycle. The smaller-capacity 1.2-litre petrol is a nice compromise between the two, with quoted economy of 56.5mpg. The Xtronic CVT automatic gearbox is around 1mpg more economical according to Nissan’s official figures.

Under current VED rates, the Pulsar costs from £0 to £130 per year to tax, while Benefit in Kind rates for company car drivers run to start at 24 per cent for the highest-specification Tekna DIG-T 190. The dCi 110 is again the winner here, with the lowest rate of 18 per cent. Sitting in groups from 10-18, the Pulsar shouldn’t be too taxing on the wallet when it comes to insurance either – no doubt helped by its wealth of standard safety kit.

Reliability and servicing

Sharing many components with the popular Qashqai SUV, the Pulsar generally has good reputation for reliability. However, some issues with build quality have been reported, and the service of the Nissan dealer network has come in for criticism, too.

Nissan offers a standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty on the Pulsar, as well as a 12-year corrosion guarantee. Service intervals are every 12 months/12,500 miles for petrol variants, and while annual checks for diesel models are also recommended, these get away with 18,000-mile gaps between maintenance.

Extra-cost service plans are also available, and Nissan also promises to provide free car health checks, a courtesy car when a service is being carried out, and to match prices for maintenance.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Nissan Pulsar

The Nissan Pulsar starts at £12,995 for the Visia Limited Edition six-speed manual. That’s significantly lower than cars such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. The cheapest Visia model is the DIG-T 115 Xtronic CVT at £16,045, while the dCi 110 manual is £150 more. A budget of £15,995 buys you an Acenta DIG-T 115 with a manual gearbox, while the diesel dCi 110 costs £17,595. Acenta trim also introduces the more powerful DIG-T 190, at £17,795.

Technology-packed N-Connecta cars kick off at £17,645 for the DIG-T 115, while for £1,600 more you can have the DIG-T 190 version. Diesel-engined N-Connecta Pulsars start from £19,245. Top-line Tekna models kick-off at £19,045, which buys a DIG-T 115. Moving up, the dCi 110 is £1,600 more, while the range tops off with the Tekna DIG-T 190 at £20,845. It’s worth noting that in almost every case, specifying DIG-T 115 cars with the Xtronic CVT gearbox costs £1,600 over manual versions.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

New Parents

Acenta 1.2 DIG-T 115 – mid-range trim includes extra safety kit and convenience features to add to the Pulsar’s excellent practicality

Company Car Buyer

N-Connecta 1.5 dCi 110 – tax-friendly low emissions, with a higher specification for lots of on-board technology and added style

Cost Conscious

Visia 1.5 dCi 110 – plenty of standard equipment and good economy mean impressive value with potentially low running costs

Rivals

Ford Focus

Updates to the popular Ford five-door have kept the styling fresh, and updated in-cabin technology and engines ensure it remains a strong choice.

Hyundai i30

The new i30 hatchback boasts a new-found confident style and – like the Pulsar – a comprehensive array of standard safety features.

Kia Cee’d

The good-looking and family-friendly Kia hatchback has a seven-year warranty, low emissions (from 94g/km) and a carry-all estate option.

SEAT Leon

The Spanish version of the Volkswagen Golf has just been relaunched and offers sharply-creased style, plus three or five doors.

Volkswagen Golf

The ubiquitous but ever-present German compact car has just undergone a refresh, making it more high-tech and classy than ever before.

What others say

Auto Express

The Nissan Pulsar’s strong points include the spacious interior, which can shame larger cars from the class above, decent standard equipment levels, and a full-house of safety kit.

What Car?

The Nissan Pulsar is a family hatchback that’s designed to appeal to those seeking a straightforward, no-nonsense car. It’s spacious, decent to drive and great value for money.

 

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