Mike Humble :
Not that long ago we sampled the surprisingly efficient Pulsar 1.2 petrol. Not exactly the most scintillating car ever driven but good on economy and passenger space. Recently, a diesel Tekna version was driven and what a difference an engine and colour scheme can make. In a lovely shade of metallic red the Pulsar 1.5 dCi Tekna looks sharp and business like, the darker colour scheme showing off the liberal sprinklings of bright work.
Continuing the Nissan Renault engineering alliance, the Tekna uses the proven 1.5 diesel unit but tweaked to develop 110Ps and a credible 260Nm of torque. Once warmed through it settles to a pleasing muted thrum and only intrudes into your enjoyment of Tuesdays Pop Master should you point the tacho needle eastwards. There’s a really good band of power from 1500rpm and combined with a really smooth gearshift quality makes the diesel Pulsar a truly effortless car to drive.
As before its well equipped, well made and superbly comfortable. Everything works and operates with all the tactile efficiency you expect of a family hatchback and the leather used is of good grade making the car smell a bit more premium than some other rivals. Other impressive details include the moving obstacle and blind spot warning systems that really do offer safety benefits rather than being techno gimmicks. At no point does the Pulsar disappoint as an everyday motor car.
The handling seemed sharper than the 1.2 petrol turbo model last sampled but the EPAS steering system still lacks that all important communication feedback through the rim of the wheel. So far as the ride matters it seems controlled and reasonably smooth with only average bump thump noise though a rough concrete road will bring with it some excessive roar at speed. Motorway refinement is as good as the very best of the rest, its a cracking tool to cruise in and its astonishingly frugal too!
Space is class leading, especially in the rear but this is let down by a clumsy rear seat design that doesn’t offer a totally flat floor when you lower the backrest for cargo loading. Rear legroom is almost of limousine class and only the very tallest will find their hair brushing the roof lining. Fixtures and fittings are a little lacking in design flair but all work very well indeed and so far as the aspirational rivals like Focus or Golf matter, the Pulsar roundly trounces them both for practicality and passenger space.
It may be lacking sex appeal and brand wow factor but for someone looking for a “normal” roomy, spacious, well equipped car with a rock solid dealer reputation, the Pulsar Tekna 1.5 dCi offers everything you need and more at a price that beats some established rivals hands down.
The Humble Opinion:
Another damn fine modern Nissan. Like the petrol example we tested, the dCi did not disappoint me in terms of refinement, economy and practicality. You simply cannot believe the sheer space on offer and for the lavish equipment inside at a shade over £22K on the road – its really good value.
Its got really strong performance, confidence inspiring brakes and front seats that support and cosset the driver. Also, the level of smoothness and refinement when cruising at speed or on the motorway are both strong points of the Pulsar.
It doesn’t claim to be heart stopping or adrenaline pumping but it mixes its stuff up there with the volume players. Its got the visual animosity to almost blend into a crowd of three but is this a bad thing? I don’t think so, but I do think it looks smart and inoffensive.
Its a Nissan for those with an allergic reaction to bolder cars like the Juke or Qashqai. Well made, well equipped, goes like a scared Kitten and you’ll find it comes with everything you’ll ever need and more as well as being very economical. The only everyday thing to disappoint me was that poorly designed rear seat folding backrest.
In summary: What it lacks in soul it more than makes up for in spirit!
Should you buy and if not why? Behind the plain looks is a fine family or fleet package… yes!
Model Tested: Nissan Pulsar Tekna 1.5 dCi
Produced by: Nissan Motor Co Barcelona
Price: £22,245 OTR
Engine: Nissan / Renault K9K 1461cc 16v turbo diesel with Stop Start
Power / Torque: 110Ps / 260Nm
Performance: *0-60 in 11.5 seconds 118mph max
Transmission: Transverse 6 speed manual
Brakes: All round ABS discs with EBD & brake assist
Fuel Economy: *78.5 mpg combined (66.8 mpg on test)
* Claimed Manufacturers Data
THE HIGHS : Superb economy – Strong performance – Class leading legroom – Well equipped – Impressive safety related driver aids – Refined when cruising – Good level of equipment in Tekna trim – Decent value for money – Refreshingly bereft of nonsensical styling cues – Good spread of dealers with a generally good reputation.
THE LOWS : Plain and lacklustre interior – Brand image perception not exactly soul stirring – Poor rear seat folding ruins practicality for cargo – Slightly cheap feeling facia vents – Cheap feeling door switchgear – Messy engine presentation.
For more information on the Pulsar CLICK HERE