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by Tim Beissmann

A Nissan Pulsar SSS could return to showrooms after the Japanese brand confirmed a sporty hatch will become part of an extensive Pulsar line-up that launches in January 2013.

Nissan Australia CEO and managing director Bill Peffer confirmed at least one performance-themed variant would be added to the local line-up after the launch of the Pulsar sedan in January and the addition of the high-volume Pulsar hatch in April.

“[The Pulsar] lends itself to the things that you mentioned… hot derivatives and different models, and we’ll have a full range of those options down here,” said Peffer. “This is a car that will define the next several years of Nissan here; we have big aspirations for this car.”

Nissan Australia spokesman Jeff Fisher told CarAdvice the SSS badge, which made the Pulsar a hit with young enthusiasts in the 1990s, was among the consideration set for the sportiest version of the new Pulsar.

“We’re looking at lots of different options, and to see if [the SSS badge] is the right way to go and if it has enough recall for the general public,” he said.

Asked whether the sporty Nissan Pulsar hatchback would need to have unique looks and a more powerful engine than the standard car, Peffer cautiously said “yes”, before adding: “We don’t want to give up too much [information yet], but I think you guys are going to be impressed; the consumers and public will be impressed.”

The timing of the sports variant is still up in the air, however, with Peffer admitting he is unsure if it will join the Australian line-up before the end of 2013.

A sporty Pulsar hatch would likely form solid competition for the Hyundai i30 ‘warm-hatch’ that is currently on the local brand’s wish list. In May, Hyundai Australia senior manager of product planning Scott Williams revealed a sports model powered by a 130kW 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine would be “job nearly well done” in terms of its aspirations.

The new Nissan Pulsar will arrive in Australia exactly seven years after the introduction of the unloved Tiida small car, which never came close to replicating the popularity of its predecessor.

Tiida sales peaked at 13,756 in 2007 but have fallen away drastically since then, with just 3577 sold across the country last year and 1977 so far this year, giving the compact Nissan just a 1.4 per cent share of the small-car segment. In its final eight full years on sale (1998-2005), the Pulsar averaged almost 20,000 sales per year, with the high point coming in 1999 when it hit 22,591 units.

A 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is expected to power the standard variants of the new Pulsar, with the option of a manual gearbox or Nissan’s new ‘X-Tronic’ continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Peffer believes Australia’s fondness of the Pulsar nameplate will contribute to its successful return to our market.

“Twenty-nine years we’ve been in the market here with Pulsar. This is the only market where that name resonates as well as it does here.”

He said value would be central to the local success of the reborn model.

“You’ll be surprised with the value proposition that it offers from a pricing standpoint, from a packaging standpoint, a size standpoint and a performance standpoint.

Should Nissan bring back the SSS badge? Share your views on the comment thread below.