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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



2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

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.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

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.

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.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

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.

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.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

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.

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.

2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar Hatch Review

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.

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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  • O123

    2013 tiida!

  • galaxy

    looks out of date already. Nothing new. No compelling reason to buy. Mazda, Toyota and Hyundai have nothing to worry about.

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, it seems like a better proposition in base trim than the sedan but the interior looks 10 years old and looks cheap, my 2005 mazda 6 has a more up to date interior, even my 2003 mazda 2 did as well

  • Matthew

    The Cruze is superior in every single way, better value, styling and better to drive. I don’t get why you would buy such a bland car? but heaps do.

    • horsie

      So you’ve driven the pulsar have you?

      • Phil

        doesn’t need to. Wheels reviewed the sedan against the Mazda 3 and Corolla, and only scored the Pulsar 4.5 out of 10. 3 points behind Corolla and 4 behind the Mazda. By the sound of it, the only reasonable drive in the Pulsar lineup will be the SSS thanks to the suspension tune.

        • Zaccy16

          Yep I agree, the suspension tune of the base model pulsar is much too soft, the Mazda 3 annihilated the pulsar and it is 4 years old!

  • Smart US

    seems like nice package to me… i drive maxima 250 and i am getting around the town exceptional fuel use – only like 10% more than i did in Corolla – this car will be stunner for ppl looking after comfy drive and fuel consumption

  • crouchy35

    If you squint at the badge, it kind of looks like “BIG TURBO”.

    Very disappointing to look at. You know the designers have had their hands tied when there’s that stupid chrome strip on the boot to tart it up.

  • GIG

    Good bye SP25! I’m surprised that no one noticed the MR16DDT is the best engine in class. anyway nissan really need to work harder on styling with no doubt…

    • Zaccy16

      the mazda drives fantastically and is very fun to chuck around corners, it would beat the sss arpund the bends easily

  • Dieseltorque

    The HVAC controls and radio are from the 90′s. that’s a pretty boring interior. The seating configuration is appalling for a new car. Nissan take note of Honda’s magic seats. It’s just so boring, I hate to say it but the SSS despite the engine is lacking any excitement.

  • klowik

    Even the current Mazda 3 and the new Corolla has much better styling inside and out than this. There is no reason why people will choose the Nissan over Mazda3 and Corolla!! Unless they drop they the price of the TripleS to $25k..
    When the new Mazda3 comes out, this won’t sell at all.

    • Eric V

      I’m sure there will be plenty of over-60′s who will order a new ‘Nissan Pensioner’ and be quite happy with their ‘safe’ decision.
      As for the rest of us…….

    • Zaccy16

      i agree but unfortunately it will probably sell to all the oldies that used to have a pulsar! no one that has any interest in cars would buy one though!

  • MisterZed

    The temperature controls on our model are downgraded compared to overseas. The US model, for example, has a classier push button interface for the controls, while we get ugly 80s-era dials.

  • Shak

    I think Nissan forgot that what gets people into showrooms is styling first and foremost. If your car looks like a Hot Wheels car was left in front of a heater then people will steer clear no matter how good it drives. They will certainly get some sales from people who hear the Pulsar name and think this is the ‘Old Pulsar’ reborn, but to a lot of other folks, this simply wont do.

  • Ted

    Yes, this is a Nissan Tida overseas, only in Australia they bought back to Pulsar badge to sell the cars. the Tida was a flop…

  • Martin

    Urgh van-line rear end. Really doesn’t do anything to push the segment forward in either styling, features, packaging or safety. Just looks like an evolution of the (horrid) Tiida and is definitely not groundbreaking or aesthetically pleasing. I fail to understand how a company who can produce the GT-R, 370Z and the Murano, can style something so dour and uninspiring for one of the biggest market segments globally. Serious Nissan, get your sh*t together because you’re a likable company with some great products but you’re really letting the ball drop in some important segments.

  • ABCDEFG

    It’s like a Tiida with round edges. Actually it is a Tiida sold as a Tiida in other countries.

  • Anthony Mindel

    This is the new Tiida,whereas the sedan is the new Sentra,which is IMHO a much better looking car,and looks nothing like the old hideous Tiida sedan

  • Autoholic

    Interior looks back in the 90s.

Nissan Pulsar Specs

SSS : 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
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
52
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
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution
Driver
Cruise Control, Mobile Phone Connectivity, Power Steering, Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation
Entertainment
Radio Compact Disc Player
Exterior
Body Kit, Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler
Interior
Power Windows
Safety
Dual 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
8-I-9
Country of Origin
THAILAND