Pulsar packs in

plenty

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

FOR a number of reasons, the Nissan Pulsar is one of the top cars in the family hatch class.

I know that's a big claim, but I stand by it.

The cabin is big for a start, with room for five adults and plenty of rear legroom. Only one car beats this space and that's the Skoda Octavia.

The handling and road holding are excellent, although I would like a little more feel from the steering, and the quality of ride is as good as the all-conquering Golf - which cannot match it for family friendly space.

The range of engines is limited, but it does have one to suit just about everyone, with two turbo petrols and a good 1.5 diesel.

And Nissan claims its the best equipped car in the class.

I recently drove the most powerful offering, a 1.6 turbo petrol with no less than 187bhp and enough acceleration to bring up 62 from rest in under eight seconds.

That puts it firmly in warm hatch territory and helps make it a hoot to drive on a challenging road.

And it also looks to be better value than the similar top-selling Ford Focus with 1.5 turbo petrol power.

The engine is smooth and quiet until it gets right to the top of its rev range - but few owners will ever take it there.

As long as the revs are above 1,800, there is big acceleration from almost any speed in the first four gears of six, and three and four or the ones for swift and safe overtaking.

The engine is sweet and willing, spinning towards the red line effortlessly and the power delivery is a delight.

There's not much under 1,800 revs in fifthand sixth, but there are plenty of other cars with that problem.

That very good ride showed itself over one of my favourite local circuits through country lanes and B-roads.

It soaked up the worst I could throw at it and did the same at slower speeds in town as well, treating speed humps with disdain.

It feels taut and sporting through the corners, with very good road holding and grip and the handling balance was marvellous.

The boot is a good size, although there's quite a high lip to lift things over and, of course, it also has split-fold rear seats to make plenty more space.

Nissan's claim that it is one of the best equipped cars in theclass could well be true, looking at the kit on offer.

I drove the mid-range Acenta and it comes with cruise, electric heated mirrors, all-round electric windows, stop/start, remote audio controls on the wheel and 16-inch alloys.

Also standard are a fully adjustable column, Bluetooth, five-inch touch colour display, six airbags, automatic lights and wipers, climate, keyless entry and starting, leather covered steering wheel and automatic emergency braking.

FAST FACTS

Price: £17,860

Mechanical: 187bhp, 1,618cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 135mph

0-62mph: 7.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 49

Insurance Group: 17

C02 emissions: 134g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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