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  • Standout rear legroom and comfort; excellent ride and handling package; well-equipped; refined engine and transmissions; quiet cabin.
  • Plain styling; no sat-nav or Bluetooth music streaming option on lower grade variants; rear seats don\'t fold flat into floor.

OUR RATING
7 / 10



Nissan’s launch of the Pulsar sedan earlier this year may have revived the badge, but its resurrection of the much-loved Nissan Pulsar Hatch was always the hot-ticket item.

Nissan is now hoping the all-new Pulsar hatch will gain fast traction in the highly competitive small car segment, thanks to Australia’s ongoing affection for five-door hatches.

Cost is already set to be the Pulsar hatch’s trump card. Not only is the pricing geared to undercut most rivals; Nissan is even bettering the cost of its Pulsar sedan stablemate by $1000.

Available in four trim grades with two petrol engines, the Pulsar hatch range kicks off at $18,990 for the Pulsar ST (tested), which is already reasonably well equipped.

Highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels; cruise control; steering wheel audio and phone controls; a four-speaker sound system with Bluetooth connectivity; power everything; air conditioning and remote keyless entry.

Under the bonnet sits a naturally aspirated 96kW/174Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine borrowed from the sedan range and shared with the second-tier $22,490 ST-L hatch.

The higher grade $24,990 ST-S and range-topping $29,240 Pulsar SSS score a more powerful 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol unit with 140kW and 240Nm of torque.

However, the price advantage enjoyed by the base model ST isn’t reflected in the SSS, which will go head-to-head with the latest Holden Cruze 1.6-litre turbocharged SRi-V with its $26,490 price tag.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

As in the Pulsar sedan line-up, all hatch variants come standard with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), which adds $2250 to the price of the ST and ST-L and $2500 to the ST-S and SSS versions.

While the new-generation Nissan Pulsar hatch is unlikely to set the world on fire when it comes to styling, it could at least be considered a contemporary design that’s unlikely to polarise opinions.

Meanwhile, larger, more aggressive wheels and a sports body kit distinguish the snazzier SSS model from its less powerful siblings, along with that all-important ‘SSS’ badge.

Inside, the Nissan Pulsar hatch is anything but flash. Instead, we get a relatively simple design that blends soft-touch materials with a spattering of metallic-look highlights that ultimately fall short of key rivals.

Clearly though, comfort has remained high on Nissan’s agenda.

The cloth seats are well cushioned and more importantly, well bolstered. They’re also more comfortable than the leather upholstery in the top-shelf SSS, which are firmer and surprisingly less body hugging.

The driving position is good too, with plenty of adjustability in the seat and the steering wheel.

Visibility is another strong point of the Pulsar hatch. The low beltline provides excellent forward and side vision, while the large, drooping-style rear window makes it easy to see out the back.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

One of the big selling points of the Pulsar sedan is its extraordinarily generous rear legroom and the hatch also doesn’t fall short in that department.

Boot space is reasonable and there’s the usual 60/40 split-fold second row seats that disappointingly don’t fold flat into the floor, thereby limiting load space versatility.

The ST’s 96kW engine has less power than most of its rivals (Holden Cruze – 104kW, Kia Cerato – 115kW, Toyota Corolla – 100kW, Mazda 3 – 108kW) but doesn’t feel any worse for it.

It’s a lovely free-spinning unit and mated with the silky smooth six-speed manual gearbox it puts the fun back into driving – even in the entry-level Pulsar hatch.

We also tried the same car with the optional CVT auto and while it doesn’t deliver the same degree of driver satisfaction as the manual, it works well enough and is more refined than others we have tested.

The Pulsar SSS we tested is an entirely different proposition, particularly in manual guise. With considerably more power and torque on tap (up 44kW/66Nm) than its 1.8-litre siblings, it’s a lot more willing right from the get-go.

The sweet spot is around 4500rpm, where the boost is most telling, although the power delivery is wonderfully linear right across the rev range.

Peak torque kicks in from 2000rpm, so there’s plenty of low-down pulling power in all six forward gear ratios, making for effortless high-speed overtaking, even in sixth.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

The SSS gets the same smooth-shifting manual transmission as the ST, but it’s infinitely more engaging behind the wheel of the hero model.

We also tried the SSS with the CVT and while it also gets a manual mode that does it’s best to mimic manual shifts with ratio steps, the power delivery feels noticeably less responsive.

Like the sedan, the entire Pulsar hatch line-up benefits from Nissan’s local testing and suspension tuning program, which has delivered excellent ride comfort and decent cornering ability.

We drove the car on a variety of different quality roads during the launch program with the car providing nothing less than a supple ride at all times even over broken surfaces.

The Pulsar Hatch SSS is the only model to receive a unique suspension tune and while it’s noticeably firmer than the lower grades, it maintains its ability to iron out compressions and bumps.

It’s also quiet, with minimal engine noise making its way into the cabin even when pushed.

Equally praiseworthy is the Pulsar’s speed sensitive electric power steering. There’s an almost perfect level of weighting right from the straight-ahead and sufficient feedback to let you know what the front wheels are doing.

Again though, the SSS version’s steering is more heavily weighted at speed, but lightens up at low speed for easy parking jobs.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

While the relatively short drive program at this week’s Pulsar launch didn’t allow for accurate fuel consumption readings, Nissan claims 7.2L/100km and 6.7L/100km for the six-speed manual and CVT for the 1.8-litre models, respectively, while the turbocharged ST-S and SSS variants claim 7.7L/100km for the manual and 7.8L/100km for the CVT.

Safety is also well covered, with the entire Nissan Pulsar Hatch range equipped with six airbags, vehicle stability control, anti-locking brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.

It’s not perfect, but the all-new Pulsar Hatch provides a compelling value-for-money proposition with standout interior space and comfort combined with a strong list of standard features, along with refined and willing drivetrains.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch pricing
– before on-road costs

Pulsar Hatch ST manual – $18,990
Pulsar Hatch ST CVT – $21,240
Pulsar Hatch ST-L manual – $22,240
Pulsar Hatch ST-L CVT – $24,740
Pulsar Hatch ST-S manual – $24,990
Pulsar Hatch ST-S CVT – $27,490
Pulsar Hatch SSS manual – $29,240
Pulsar Hatch SSS CVT – $31,740

CarAdvice will also be publishing a full review of the Pulsar SSS later today.


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NISSAN PULSAR BREAKDOWN

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
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Nissan Pulsar Specs

SSS : C12 : 1.6L TURBO MPFI - 6 SP MANUAL - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 5D HATCHBACK
Car Details
Make
NISSAN
Model
PULSAR
Variant
SSS
Series
C12
Year
2013
Body Type
5D HATCHBACK
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$15,400 - $17,500
Dealer Retail
$16,650 - $19,800
Dealer Trade
$12,100 - $14,000
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
TURBO MPFI
Engine Size
1.6L
Cylinders
TURBO 4
Max. Torque
240Nm @  2000rpm
Max. Power
140kW @  5600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
106.1W/kg
Bore & Stroke
79.7x81.1mm
Compression Ratio
9.5
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
52Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.7L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1320
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1520mm
Length
4295mm
Width
1760mm
Ground Clearance
137mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1100  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.7
Front Rim Size
6.5x17
Rear Rim Size
6.5x17
Front Tyres
205/50 R17
Rear Tyres
205/50 R17
Wheel Base
2700
Front Track
1530
Rear Track
1530
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Torsion bar, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control System, Vehicle Stability Control
Driver
Cruise Control, Mobile Phone Connectivity, Power Steering, Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio Compact Disc Player
Exterior
Body Kit, Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler, Xenon Headlights
Interior
Power Windows
Safety
Dual Front Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Eng Scuttle
Country of Origin
Thailand