Time Well Spent : Nissan Pulsar 190 DiG-T Tekna – 8/10


The 190 DiG-T Tekna is Nissans top of the range family hatchback – but with an added sporting accent. On paper it makes little sense but in real life proves one very important fact about modern cars… They’ve gone a bit soft.

The £22,645 Pulsar 190 DiG-T Tekna

Unless you are discussing cars like the Juke Nismo RS or the mighty Skyline, Sporting and Nissan go together like ice cream and crisps… it just doesn’t really work. That’s nothing against the brand generally as Nissan have a pretty rustic reputation for building affordable, reliable and fairly well respected cars. Its just that thanks to a society we live in that’s still obsessed about badge snobbery, Nissan often fail to capture the minds as a first choice option when compared to traditional marques such as Ford and VW. Personally, I think this is unfair owing to the fact their range nowadays comprise of some pretty bold and dynamically styled cars.

I’ll make no bones about the fact that I really like the Pulsar. Its got an astonishing amount of space front and rear, its priced well, is well equipped and is so so relaxing to drive. Previous examples have proven to be almost devoid of any serious flaw and the recent diesel model tested caused my partner to remark it was as good… if not better than our very own Golf Mk7 Bluemotion – a car that the Pulsar aims to capture a slice of the action.  The model in discussion here is 190Ps 1.6 turbo Tekna which uses the Nissan Renault alliance KH3 engine and six speed manual box.

The driveline is shared with the Juke Nismo RS and other sporty Renaults but slightly down rated to 190Ps. Its smooth, flexible and economical. Engine cover looks and feels a bit cheap and the oil cap is very deep down underneath which might make topping up a bit messy.

As with the usual Tekna fare, you have a genuine five seater car that’s bristling with tech and other driver assisting gizmo’s that comes with a very reasonable £22,645 OTR price tag. I wont spend too much time waffling on about quality and trim and so on as the previous reviews will put you right in these areas. Visual differences on the 190 motor include 18″ diamond cut alloy wheels, a honeycomb front grille, a square cut larger bore tail pipe and a diffuser detail to the rear bumper in mock carbon fibre – the latter being not the most convincing to look at. On the inside the sporting accent is limited to even more faux carbon fibre detail to the dash and door capping’s.

As expected, leather upholstery comes as part of the gig but they share the same structure and shape as the lower powered models. Not too bad in terms of comfort but badly needing some alternative sculpture and more aggressive bolstering in the front to differentiate from the less powerful variants. Some quick cornering or spirited evasive action finds you almost sliding around in the seat. In true Pulsar tradition the overall package is remarkably refined and devoid of the dreaded harshness and vibration. In fact I’ll go as far as saying that the car is maybe just that bit too refined and smooth – a rather odd thing to quote I know… but trust me on this.

Well equipped cabin features everything you need with heaps of driver and safety related assistance systems. Screen is a bit small and some plastics are below class expectancies but the fit and finish is quite good. White stitching detail helps to lift a bland appearance

With 190Ps and 240Nm of torque under your right clog the Pulsar goes really well and has a pleasing amount of low to mid range wallop when time calls for it. So far as its ability to turn into a five door five seat slingshot matter, the time honoured sprint to one mile a minute takes a smidge over 7.5 seconds while the overdrive top carries you off to a top speed of 135mph. The problem comes back to the closing sentence of the last paragraph, its so smooth and isolating that it doesn’t really feel that quick. Of course the speed the horizon comes towards you and the climbing of the dials tell you a different story, it really is quite rapid and punchy… it just… well… you know? lacks that edge and bite.

Nissan have altered the E-PAS settings to give this car what it badly needed… steering feel at the rim and the handling is sharper and tighter thanks to revised spring and damper settings. The brakes are also on top of the job, no grab or over sensitivity just plenty of anchor to rub off your speed. On the subject of speed its ability to absorb motorway miles is worthy of mention. A recent trek down to the West Country without stopping passed by without a moments concern towards comfort or refinement. Equally good too is the overall fuel consumption – Nissan claim an overall drinking habit of almost 48 mpg, I returned a very pleasing 46.2 – one of the few cars to come really close to the claimed figures.

The rear legroom is class leading and occupants get their own face level vents. Refinement is brilliant – perhaps too good for the performance potential?
Boot space is 385 to almost 1400 litres. The visible hump in the floor is well over 6 inches high and makes for awkward loading and spoils the practicality somewhat.

Other niggles still remain though. The infotainment screen is quite small compared to rivals and you have to fiddle with the panel dimmer settings to avoid an over bright and reflecting illumination level. Some penny pinching can be noticeable too. The driver door switch pack features illumination for the drivers window only and the other door switches have no back lit detail whatsoever. Some of the plastics feel hard and cheap but in fairness this worries me little considering the money you would have to cough up for an equivalent Golf with the same spec and speed. Overall build quality is very good however, not a squeak nor a creak from anywhere in the cabin was noticed.

Overall, my conclusion is that the Pulsar could do with a sportier model. The smoothness actually spoils the car slightly and the trim level, even though there are a couple of hints towards the performance, plays on the luxury theme rather than its liveliness – A Nismo RS version maybe? Give it a burbling exhaust note, a snazzier steering wheel, some subtle body styling and alcantara suede and you’ll have a very cost effective and thoroughly smile inducing all rounder.

Oh… and for Gods sake Nissan… sort that back seat folding out!



Its been said already. A really nice car with loads of go and good fuel consumption that sadly makes little commercial sense in a luxury trim package.

Cant be beaten for passenger space and its refinement is quite superb along with a great driving position and chassis tweaks that actually are noticeable. That dreadful lump in the rear floor still takes the shine of its practicality and it lacks that that deep rooted feel of quality that the current Golf exudes.

Overall? well its cracking value for money, the dealers are more courteous and attentive than most and some motoring magazines have voted it a previous car of the year. Its a fine machine but the driveline and chassis badly needs a genuine sporty model.

But for those who want to blend into a crowd of three in a car that’s a genuine “sleeper” the Pulsar 190 DiG-T Tekna in this current form is a car I would wholeheartedly recommend.

Should you buy and if not why? For sure… some serious bangs for your bucks!

Model Tested: Nissan Pulsar 190 DiG-T

Produced by: Nissan Motor Co Barcelona

Price: £22,645 OTR

Driveline: Nissan KH3 1.6 16v turbo intercooled petrol with 6 speed FWD manual

Power / Torque: 190Ps with 240Nm of torque @ 1600rpm

Brakes: All round discs with ABS/EBD Brake assist & lever type handbrake

Performance: *0-60 in 7.7 seconds with 135mph max

Economy: *47.9mpg (46.2mpg on test)

Co2: 138G/Km

* Claimed Manufacturers Data

THE HIGHS: Strong performance – Vastly improved chassis and steering feel – Cannot be beaten for passenger space – Well equipped – Blissfully refined – Good spread of available power and torque – Great value for money – Very easy and effortless to drive.

THE LOWS: Front seats need better shaping – A bit too sweet and refined for the performance available – That awful rear folding seat – Brand image slightly woolly – Needs more aggressive styling detail to make perfect sense – Some cost cutting is noticeable.

For more information on the Pulsar or the Nissan range CLICK HERE





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