The Nissan Pulsar SSS is back, returning to Australia’s hot-hatch scene after a 13-year hiatus.
The price has risen considerably since then: the 2013 Pulsar SSS starts at $29,240 compared with $23,470 for the 2000 vintage – an increase out of sync with the base model, which at $18,990 today is just $125 higher than it was 13 years ago (read our full Nissan Pulsar hatch pricing and specifications story).
Yet the 2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS promises to take significant steps forward in all areas as it looks to win the hearts of new-car buyers in Australia’s ultra-competitive modern-day small-car market.
Under the bonnet sits a 140kW/240Nm 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, 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 2013 Pulsar hatch.
The 1.6-litre is paired with a six-speed manual transmission as standard and can be optioned with a continuously variable transmission for an extra $2500, taking its price to $31,740.
The Nissan Pulsar SSS manual’s sub-$30K starting price puts it on par with the five-door Volkswagen Polo GTI, despite the latter being one size smaller and marginally less powerful (132kW), but slightly torquier (250Nm).
The value equation of the SSS appears particularly strong, however; the model coming standard with a host of features not found in any other variant in the Pulsar range or a number of vehicles in the next segment up.
A sports body kit; racy 17-inch alloy wheels; xenon headlights with auto levelling, self-cleaning and auto-on functions; keyless entry and push-button start; leather-accented seat trim; dual-zone climate control; and a 5.8-inch touchscreen display with satellite navigation and rear-view camera headline the list of features unique to the SSS grade.
They join the front fog lights, cruise control, leather-bound steering wheel, and six-speaker audio system with AUX/USB inputs and Bluetooth phone connectivity that are already standard on models earlier in the range.
Nissan Australia is yet to confirm performance data for the new-generation Pulsar SSS, although a 0-100km/h sprint between 7.0 and 7.5 seconds and combined cycle fuel consumption in a similar region (7.0-7.5 litres per 100km) appears likely.
The 2000 Pulsar SSS accelerated from 0-100km/h in 8.8 seconds in manual form while consuming 7.0L/100km combined.
Australian buyers will be able to get all of the performance of the SSS at a cheaper price, however, with the $24,990 Pulsar ST-S hatch variant scoring an identical powertrain. With less standard equipment more than likely translating to a lower body weight, the ST-S may also be quicker than its more famous sibling, and a potential bargain for sports car fans on a budget.
The Nissan Pulsar SSS will go on sale alongside the rest of the new Pulsar hatch range in Australia on June 1.
2013 Nissan Pulsar SSS prices: