The 2015 Nissan Pulsar SSS sedan is full of surprises, but Mandy Turner spends a week with one to see if it deserves its sporty SSS name…
The year was 1988. World Expo visited Brisbane, Crocodile Dundee II was in cinemas, and the N13 Nissan Pulsar SSS Vector sedan was unveiled at the Adelaide Formula One grand prix.
Fast forward to June 2015, and Nissan has again added the well loved (in Australia at least) SSS badge to the back of a four-door Pulsar sedan. Creating not only the perfect excuse to spend a week in one, the arrival of the car into the CarAdvice Melbourne garage also gives me the chance to experience a piece of Nissan history.
For this review, I’ve enlisted some outside help – I've brought along my best friend Nikki.
Having just been handed the keys by Dave Zalstein, I stand back and cast my eyes over the Pulsar while Nikki jumps straight into the back seat to check out the spacious legroom.
The exterior styling makes little impact on me. The boot is very square and the short bonnet looks like it's been ‘squashed’ into the rest of the car. I also can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the ‘DIG (direct injection gasoline) Turbo’ badge on the boot. Perhaps it's what's on the inside that counts?
I open the door and the first thing I see are red ‘SSS’ floor mats. They’re not bad, they just don't particularly work well with our test car’s Deep Sapphire Blue metallic paint. The ‘SSS’-badged side sills are a sporty touch but they don’t look or feel overly high-end.
The basic-looking engine start/stop button is cleverly placed, sitting low enough on the dash so as not to be hidden behind the windscreen wiper stalk. It can be seen through the steering wheel too and lights up bright red like the coals of a smoldering fire.
Conveniently, there’s a small storage compartment tucked into the bottom of the centre console that perfectly fits the keys too – brilliant. It also means you don’t have to lose one of your cup holders to keys. Speaking of which, the front two cup holders are a little tight for space – even for your standard 600ml plastic water bottle – but there is space for larger bottles incorporated into the door pockets.
With Nikki and I planning a shopping trip to Chadstone shopping centre before heading back home to Shepparton, it’s a run up Melbourne's M1 where I get to see what the SSS’s turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine is all about.
With 140kW of power and 240Nm of torque, the DIG Turbo engine is up 44kW and 66Nm on the naturally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder that powers the rest of the Pulsar sedan range. And while the turbo makes all the difference in terms of pace, it claims to drink 7.8 litres of premium unleaded fuel per 100km, while the 1.8-litre claims to sip 6.7L/100km of regular unleaded. As much as the SSS’s extra zip is a plus, a nicer exhaust note would be a plus, in my eyes anyway.
The standard six-speed manual transmission can take a little time and patience to get used to but once familiar, is a cinch to use. Oddly, the clutch does seem to be a bit on the heavy side for a car like this though.
Despite their chaotic reputation, navigating Chadstone’s many car parks in the Pulsar SSS is easy. Vision out of all the mirrors and windows is clear, and the rear-view camera with guide lines helps nail those tighter parks.
After hours of shopping, it’s time to test out the Pulsar sedan’s 510 litres of boot space. Able to be accessed via one push of a key-fob button, the SSS sedan’s boot is 200L bigger than that of its Pulsar hatch equivalent. Nikki does her best to fill it comic books, but I manage to fit in a golf bag too. Very impressive.
Our shopping spree done, the leather accented seats are a welcome relief. The satellite navigation is set for home and, instead of music as entertainment, we decide to listen to the GPS lady. 'She' is very demanding and speaks with force when ‘she’ says, "Please turn here", or, "You will need to turn right soon". She sounds just like my mother…
We make it back to Shepparton, unload our shopping and collapse on the couch. Apart from banging my head a couple of times getting into the car, burning my hand once on the rod that holds the bonnet up and adjusting to its high-revving cold start idle – it gets close to 2000rpm – my week 'dating' the 2015 Nissan Pulsar SSS sedan isn’t bad.
It’s a little difficult for me to say if it lives up to the ‘glory days’ of the SSS of the 80s because I was in nappies for the majority of them. But it’s easy to live, has good grunt and I respect its simplicity. It doesn't have any gimmicks or useless features, just everything you need.
At $26,990, the Nissan Pulsar SSS sedan offers more car and more boot than the SSS hatch, and commands only a $1000 price increase. For the effectively same or less money though, you could get your bum into a Mazda 3 SP25 sedan or a Honda Civic VTi-L sedan. Or for slightly more coin, a Holden Cruze SRi-V sedan, Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S sedan or Toyota Corolla ZR sedan. That said, none of those offer the classic SSS badge…
Click on the Photos tab for more 2015 Nissan Pulsar SSS sedan images by Mandy Turner.