Nissan has unveiled the all-new Pulsar hatch – its answer to the Ford Focus, VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra. The car marks the brand’s re-entry into the highly competitive family hatch segment for the first time since the Almera ceased production in 2006, and revives a name originally used in 1978 but never here.
The Pulsar is designed to slot below the new Qashqai and X-Trail in the line-up to form a family of three, and its resemblance to its SUV big brothers is striking. At the front, the V-shaped grille surrounding the badge, and angled headlights, are virtually identical to the Qashqai’s, as are the strong shoulder line and upturned crease above the sills.
At 4,385mm in length, the Pulsar is 115mm longer than the Golf. The wheelbase is 63mm longer, too, at 2,700mm. Exact figures have yet to be released, but Nissan claims the new car offers “considerably” more rear leg, shoulder and kneeroom than its rivals.
It’s not only styling that the Pulsar shares with the Qashqai and X-Trail. It has the same LED headlight tech, while the engine line-up is carried over from the Qashqai. This includes the 113bhp 1.2-litre DiG-T petrol turbo, a 1.5 dCi diesel with 108bhp, 260Nm of torque and CO2 emissions as low as 95g/km, plus a 187bhp 1.6 turbo under the bonnet of a range-topping warm hatch.
A Golf GTI-rivalling Pulsar Nismo is likely to boast a 197bhp version of the same engine, while an even hotter 215bhp Pulsar Nismo RS, featuring a mechanical limited-slip diff on the front axle, is also expected in due course.
The Pulsar should be one of the safest cars in its class thanks to the adoption of the Safety Shield package already available on the X-Trail, Qashqai and facelifted Juke. This includes autobraking, a 360-degree camera system giving the driver a full picture of their surroundings when parking or pulling out, plus lane-departure and blind-spot warning.
While the Pulsar was originally to be built in Nissan’s Sunderland factory, that capacity will now be taken up by Infiniti’s Q30 compact crossover. Instead, the new hatch will be made in Barcelona, Spain, although it was designed at Nissan’s studio in Paddington, London, while the engineering development was carried out at its base in Cranfield, Beds.
The Pulsar name has been used in global markets since it was introduced in 1978. In some European markets the Sunny was called Pulsar, and it was also used on the car that we knew as the Almera. We expect the Pulsar to go on sale in the autumn from around £16,000.
Nissan's new Golf-rivalling Pulsar has also opened its doors for the first time. In keeping with its ‘shrunken Qashqai’ look on the outside, the cabin borrows plenty of cues from its sister car, while a number of components are carried over entirely.
The steering wheel, for example, is identical, along with the gearlever, instrument cluster and central display. But the dash architecture is different and swoops around the main control panel, while chrome and piano black trim improve the feeling of quality.
The Pulsar will be built in Barcelona and go on sale in the UK this autumn. Engine choices will include a 113bhp 1.2 DIG-T petrol and a 108bhp 1.5 dCi with CO2 emissions of 95g/km. Prices are expected to start from around £16,000.