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  • Solid performance from the 1.6-litre turbo; refined transmissions; excellent ride/handling balance; comfort; space and practicality
  • SSS styling is lukewarm; CVT is less engaging than the manual; engine note is lacking

OUR RATING
8 / 10



2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review

For over 13 years the much-loved Nissan Pulsar SSS has been conspicuously absent from Australia’s burgeoning hot hatch market.

But the iconic badge has finally made its comeback, knocking out the old 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine and replacing it with a punchier 1.6-litre turbo.

Priced from $29,290 (plus on-road costs), the Pulsar SSS sits at the top of Nissan’s new-generation small-car range, just as it did all those years ago.

Only back then, the warmed-up hatch wore a price tag of just $23,470.

Nissan says the significant premium placed on the Pulsar SSS is more than justified by its considerable upgrade in power and torque, along with its impressive inventory of standard equipment.

It would have been a tougher sell if Nissan was to push the SSS on looks alone. Apart from a slightly racy sports body kit, unique 17-inch alloys and a chrome-tipped exhaust pipe, there isn’t a lot to distinguish the SSS from its less powerful Pulsar hatch siblings.

Inside, the upgrade is more obvious. There’s leather trim, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and a 5.8-inch touchscreen display with satellite navigation and a rear-view camera, which are unique to the SSS grade.

They join xenon headlamps, front foglights, leather-bound steering wheel and six-speaker audio unit with Bluetooth phone and music streaming.

2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review

More significant is the 140kW/240Nm 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant, which produces 35kW/61Nm more power and torque than the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre of the last SSS and 44kW/66Nm more than the 1.8-litre in the entry-level Pulsar hatch.

For the bargain hunters, it’s also the same engine that you’ll find in lower grade ST-S – essentially a stripped-out version of the SSS, which sells from $24,990.

Right from the get-go, the Nissan Pulsar SSS feels different. There’s a subtle change in the exhaust note, more weight in the steering and the engine feels a lot more potent.

Throttle response is satisfyingly sharp too, with peak torque from just 2000rpm ensuring plenty of punch off the line.

And there’s no shortage of ‘go’ further up the rev range either, as the free-spinning engine finds its sweet spot at around 4500rpm when the boost comes on song.

It also doesn’t seem to matter what gear ratio you’re in, as even in sixth there’s always sufficient grunt on tap for safe, high-speed passing.

Sadly, though, there isn’t much in the way of a performance-style engine note, at least from inside the cabin.

Nissan hasn’t released acceleration figures for the SSS, but we’ll cover those details in a more comprehensive test of the car down the track. In the meantime, we reckon it feels like a 7.0-second car – at least in manual guise.

2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS Review

That would make it considerably quicker than the 2000 model SSS, which needed 8.8 seconds to cover the 0-100km/h sprint.

The front-wheel-drive Pulsar SSS gets an ultra-smooth shifting standard spec six-speed manual transmission – one of the highlights of this car – but we also tried the optional CVT automatic version.

Unlike the CVT available in the lower grades, the SSS version gets a ‘manual mode’ that does its best to mimic a manual transmission by distinctive steps between the gear ratios.

However, it’s noticeably less engaging than the proper six-speed manual and the power delivery feels slightly restrained.

Crucially, the Pulsar SSS gets its own unique suspension tune, and while it’s noticeably firmer than the rest of the hatch range, Pulsar’s commendable ride comfort is maintained even over harsh surfaces.

It’s also surprisingly well composed in the corners, displaying minimal body roll, good chassis balance and never really feeling like it’s working that hard – even at pace.

It’s not quite a full-blooded hot hatch, nor is the SSS priced like one. But for just over $29K you get yourself a decent dose of performance in a capable and comfortable all-rounder.


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2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS 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
$15,730 - $17,880
Dealer Retail
$16,930 - $20,130
Dealer Trade
$12,400 - $14,300
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