Nissan Pulsar Review

The Nissan Pulsar is a family hatchback sold between 2014 and 2018

£9,708
Average price
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1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Good value
  • Comfortable
  • Spacious interior

Cons

  • Bland styling
  • Uninspiring to drive
  • Mediocre interior quality
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

The arrival of the Qashqai in early 2007 brought the end to Nissan C-segment hatchbacks (otherwise known as Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus-sized models) in Europe, and it was a move that proved hugely lucrative. 

But in 2014 Nissan would return to this popular segment with the Pulsar, reviving a nameplate that hadn’t been used for some years. Boasting a similar design to the latest Qashqai and X-Trail (at the time), it also arrived with some impressive levels of technology, with high-end versions equipped with elements like LED headlights and blind spot monitoring. 

Also offering the longest wheelbase in its class, it brought impressive levels of space by hatchback standards, while launching with a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines to ensure its competitiveness.

Latest model

The Pulsar had quite a short lifespan, with Nissan discontinuing the model in 2018 when the firm decided to close its Barcelona factory, where this hatchback was produced.

There were a few small tweaks over the years, with an addition in 2015 seeing a punchy 187bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine introduced to the hatchback, giving the Pulsar extra performance and revised dynamics to make it into more of a hot hatch.

In 2017, Nissan also expanded the line-up with an N-Connecta Style Edition, bringing additional standard equipment to the line-up, along with slightly tweaked styling.

Value for money

Value for money was always at the core of the Pulsar, and that was reflected with its quite attractive starting price of £15,995 when it was new, rising to just over £20,000 for a top-spec Tekna version. Even the sportier version came in at under £20,000. 

Today, however, the Pulsar is a very attractive used buy, with its relatively unknown status helping to bring prices down. The cheapest high-mileage cars start from just £4,000, though you’ll pay around £6,500 for a clean car with around 60,000 miles on the clock. The most expensive used Pulsars will set you back around £13,000, so you’re really better off opting for a more affordable version considering the minimal changes it received over its lifetime. 

Looks and image

Though Nissan tried to give the Pulsar some of the stylish appeal of the Qashqai with its neat chrome ‘V-Motion’ grille, the overall design is relatively bland, with the Pulsar showing its age far more than rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Volvo V40, for example. High-spec models – particularly the Tekna – are more appealing, though, thanks to their larger alloy wheels and modern LED headlights. 

Inside, the Pulsar’s interior doesn’t do a huge amount to excite, either, with quite a plain and dark design, though the actual ergonomics and functionality of it all are excellent. Though the touchscreen on higher-spec versions is quite dated now, it still remains easy to use too. The quality of the Pulsar’s cabin does also fall short of the class best, though that is reflected in the price you pay.

Behind the wheel, the thing that stands out with the Pulsar is just how comfortable it is. With a soft suspension setup, it’s a good match for Britain’s poor-quality roads, while this Nissan is generally refined and easy to drive too. If you’re looking for something sporty, however, it’s not the best. The sportier 190 model adds a touch more excitement, but it’s certainly not the most thrilling still. 

Space and practicality

Another area where the Pulsar scores well is when it comes to interior space. With a relatively boxy shape, there’s little to dent the amount of room on offer. At the time of its launch, it had the longest wheelbase in its class, which enables class-leading levels of rear legroom, along with plenty of headroom too. 

At the same time, the 395-litre boot is a good size for a vehicle of this class, and roomier than key rivals like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. If you’re choosing a hatchback as a family car, the Pulsar is a very capable option. 

Engines

Kicking off the Pulsar’s engine range is a 113bhp 1.2-litre petrol (badged DIG-T 115), which comes with the choice of a six-speed manual or Xtronic automatic transmission. It’s able to accelerate from 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds, though the automatic will take a lethargic two seconds more. 

If you fancy a diesel, there’s a 108bhp 1.5-litre unit, coming with a six-speed manual gearbox, and managing the 0-60mph sprint in 11.3 seconds. If you want some extra zip, choose the top-spec 187bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol, which too comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, and can take the Pulsar from 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds. 

Running costs

Where running costs are concerned, it’s the Pulsar’s diesel engine that performs best, with Nissan claiming up to 78mpg, and very low CO2 emissions of 94g/km. These figures are based on the old efficiency testing cycle, however, so won’t be comparable to newer cars on sale. 

Low CO2 emissions do mean many diesel Pulsar versions for sale will be free to tax too, while insurance groups ranging from 10 to 18 are decent for a vehicle of this size. 

Things to look out for

There are a few things to look out for if you’re in the market for a Pulsar. Firstly, take a look at the interior plastics as they’re prone to scratching, while some of the diamond-cut alloys can corrode if cleaned using harsh chemicals – look out for signs of bubbling. 

Also make sure the air conditioning system works as it should because it’s a problem quite a few owners have complained about over the years. 

Rivals 

The Pulsar sits in the family hatchback segment, which remains one of the most competitive. Key rivals include the best-selling Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf, though other worthy alternatives include the Mazda3, Peugeot 308 and Kia Ceed

Depreciation

The Pulsar has depreciated quicker than many competitors, though it does mean it’s a very appealing used buy; getting you a roomier and better-equipped car than many of its rivals, and at a more affordable price. 

Trims explained

Nissan offered four main trim levels on the Pulsar, with equipment highlights and pricing as follows.

Visia –

Entry-level Pulsar models don’t get all that much equipment, with highlights including tyre pressure monitoring, remote locking, Bluetooth and an alarm. You also get stop/start technology, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, front and rear electric windows, cruise control and speed limiter and a chrome window surround.

From £4,500

Acenta –

Upgrade to the Acenta and it brings more attractive 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic emergency braking, a leather steering wheel and heated door mirrors. You also get keyless start and entry, automatic lights and wipers and dual-zone climate control.

From £4,500

N-Connecta –

If you’re looking a bit more in the way of technology, take a look at the N-Connecta, which gets a touchscreen, satellite navigation, DAB radio and a reversing camera. It also features part-leather seats, two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels and a slightly sportier look.

From £7,000

Tekna –

At the top of the range, the Tekna comes with lane departure warning blind-spot warning, leather upholstery and heated front seats. Large 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and electric folding mirrors are also included.

From £6,500

Summary

  1. Nissan’s family hatch sold between 2014 and 2018
  2. Well-equipped, except from entry-level trim
  3. Very roomy interior by class standards
  4. Uninspiring design
  5. Low-rent interior
  6. Very comfortable…
  7. If unexciting to drive
  8. Efficient diesel engine
  9. Plenty of tech on high-spec models
  10. An affordable and appealing used family car

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