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The 2013 Nissan Pulsar has been officially unveiled ahead of its public debut at this week’s 2012 Sydney motor show.

The return of the Pulsar marks the beginning of Nissan Australia’s major product renaissance that will see the Japanese giant launch 12 entirely new or redesigned models in the next two and half a years.

The Nissan Pulsar, which has been absent for the greater part of six years, replaces the underperforming Nissan Tiida and puts Nissan top of mind for the ever-growing number of small car buyers.

The new Pulsar sedan launches on February 1, 2013 with a starting price of $19,990 (base model ST six-speed manual) and will go head-to-head with a very competent field of competitors, including the recently launched Hyundai i30, new Toyota Corolla and the upcoming Volkswagen Golf.

Nissan Australia’s new boss, William Peffer, says Nissan is hoping to outsell the Toyota Corolla with the new Pulsar but wouldn’t give a timeline as to when that might happen.

Even if it doesn’t have the same level of awareness as the Corolla, which is the best-selling car worldwide, Nissan believes Australian buyers still remember the Pulsar badge for all the right reasons. Despite its long absence, the Nissan Pulsar still has a 71 per cent awareness rate locally, which will give the new model a fighting chance against its competitors. It will need to find at least 3000 buyers a month to be in the same league as the Corolla (which is beaten by the Mazda3’s 3500/month average).

Arriving initially in sedan form only, the Pulsar is powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 96kW of power and 174Nm of torque. Official fuel economy figures are yet to be released, but we suspect it will be around the 6L/100km mark for the combined city and highway cycle.

The Pulsar will be available with either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Nissan’s new Xtronic CVT in the Pulsar, which we sampled in a prototype Maxima late last year in Tokyo, is a significant improvement over the current-generation CVTs and will potentially prove an advantage rather than a hindrance.

As a package, the new Pulsar’s interior spaciousness is unlike many small cars on the market. Although technically classified as such, and priced accordingly, the Pulsar offers generous cabin space and a 510L boot, which is actually larger than the Holden Commodore large car.

We had the opportunity to sit in the sedan’s front and rear seats and can report that it’s very much akin to a medium car in head and legroom.

The base model Pulsar ST comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, Bluetooth connectivity, a full compliment of safety features (front, side and curtain airbags, stability control, brake assist and traction control), cruise control and a full size spare.

Move up to the Pulsar ST-L and you get a rear spoiler, LED accent lights, leather steering wheel and shifter knob as well as fog lamps. The range topping Ti comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, integrated satellite navigation system, rear-view camera, xenon headlamps, full leather trim and dual-zone climate control.

The Nissan Pulsar range will be bolstered by mid-2013 when the company introduces the Nissan Pulsar SSS turbocharged hatch and regular hatchback models powered by the same 1.8-litre engine.

In order to steal some thunder away from the new Corolla (which launches this week) and give early adopters a reason to choose Pulsar, Nissan Australia is offering a pre-sale offer on the 2013 Pulsar sedan range. Starting tomorrow and running up until the Pulsar’s launch in February, a 10 per cent deposit will see you in a Pulsar sedan ST manual for $299 per month with a guaranteed future value. This extends to Pulsar sedan ST-L ($399/month) and Ti model ($499/month).

2013 Nissan Pulsar manufacturer’s list prices:

  • ST Manual – $19,990
  • ST CVT – $22,240
  • ST-L Manual – $23,650
  • ST-L CVT – $25,900
  • Ti CVT – $28,990

Check out the Nissan Pulsar photo gallery for more pictures.