Nissan Pulsar 1.5

dCi Tekna

Nissan Pulsar, front, static
Nissan Pulsar, front, action
Nissan Pulsar, front, action
Nissan Pulsar, head on
Nissan Pulsar, side, action
Nissan Pulsar, side
Nissan Pulsar, rear, action
Nissan Pulsar, rear
Nissan Pulsar, rear
Nissan Pulsar, boot
Nissan Pulsar, interior

A FEW years ago Nissan announced plans to bring a whole raft of SUV-style vehicles to market.

At the time such a notion probably seemed a trifle bizarre but with the benefit of hindsight it can now be seen as a bit of shrewd soothsaying.

Rather prophetically the Japanese car maker was foreseeing the emergence of a major new car market trend in the shape of the crossover.

Since then Nissan has led the way with scaled-down SUVs like the Qashqai and Juke - setting a trend that pretty much everyone else has followed.

Along the way it dispensed with familiar favourites like its Almera hatchback, a car that once competed with the likes of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf.

It's hard to believe but the last Almera was produced in 2006.

More recently Nissan has returned to what was traditionally the most hotly contested market segment with the Pulsar hatchback.

Unlike Nissan's crossovers I doubt whether other car makers will be queuing up to imitate the Pulsar but even so it has plenty to recommend it.

Sure, crossovers have soared in popularity but plenty of people still like to buy traditional hatchbacks, saloons and estates.

The Pulsar might be relatively plain but interestingly its design lines have slight crossover echoes, it certainly appears bigger, bolder, chunkier and sturdier than many hatches.

And crucially it is actually bigger and that is likely to be the key to its success.

It always amazes me how little room there can be in the back of some vehicles that claim to cater for the needs of a family.

Even some large-ish crossovers and SUVs are not blessed with acres of space in the rear - almost as if rear seat passengers are an afterthought.

The great thing about the Pulsar is that it not only out-performs cars in its class when it comes to interior space but many in the class above and probably a few in the class above that.

Sit in one of the rear seats and it's actually hard to believe just how much space you're afforded.

I tried the seat immediately behind the driver, having adjusted the driver's seat to accommodate my 6ft 1in frame, and there was simply oodles of legroom, almost on a par with the limo-like proportions one would encounter in a Skoda Superb.

Headroom is generous too and the cabin also feels open and roomy generally. In terms of fit and finish, instrumentation and switchgear the Pulsar also scores pretty highly. To top it off there's a decent sized 385-litre boot.

When it comes to engines a 1.2-litre DIG-T petrol unit and a 1.5-litre dCi diesel have been joined more recently by a 1.6-litre DIG-T petrol engine.

The more potent petrol model comes with a raft of enhancements, from upgraded suspension to sharper steering to achieve more of a performance focus.

Such upgrades are marginal rather than substantial though and it's easy to appreciate why the diesel would be the engine of choice for most.

It's a refined all-rounder that delivers a decent blend of performance and economy and ensures the Pulsar is a perfectly acceptable if unexciting driver's car.

Buyers can choose from the customary Nissan trim levels, which in ascending order are: Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna.

Standard equipment is fairly generous on all and even an entry-level Visia comes with Bluetooth, USB connection, cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, tyre pressure monitoring and a CD player.

Acenta gets extras like automatic lights and wipers, heated mirrors, a leather steering wheel and an upgraded sound system, while N-Connecta models add privacy glass, LED headlamps, the NissanConnect infotainment system and a reversing camera.

Ascend to the range-topping Tekna and you get such palatial add-ons as heated seats, leather upholstery and a plethora of high-tech safety features.

FAST FACTS

Nissan Pulsar 1.5 dCi Tekna

Price: £22,715

Mechanical: 108bhp, 1,461cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 11.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 74.3

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions:98g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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