LIKE slipping on an old pair of jeans Australians have warmed to familiarity. The Nissan Pulsar re-entered the motoring scene this year and the proof is in the pudding.
Up until April this year the Pulsar had secured 5.5% of the small car market. That equates to 4282 sales compared the Tiida it replaced which had sold 393 units in the same timeframe last year.
Nissan said it wanted to quadruple its share and the well-known nameplate is already kicking goals. And the offering is about to get even stronger with the hatch variant due later this month.
Ahead of the hatch's release, we revisited the range-topping sedan which boasts a massive equipment list for $28,990.
The Pulsar really fits into the "super small" category. Like the Kia Cerato and Holden Cruze, the Pulsar is far from compact inside.
Four adults can appreciate the head, leg and knee room, while fitting three across the rear is not a stretch. Head room in the back can become an issue for those above 180cm, yet it's still a grand space for a small car.
Plaudits must be awarded for the touch-screen system's ease of use. Entering destinations into the sat nav is easy and fast, rather than a dial or mouse-style operation favoured by most manufacturers. Switching to various pre-set radio stations is also simple with six buttons at the ready.
Functional and simplistic, Nissan has developed a classy looking cabin. There are some hard plastics on the console, yet they are inoffensive and work seamlessly in a modern environment.
On the road
Comfortable and smooth, Nissan is targeting a sensible and conservative market with the Ti.
Beneath the metal is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine which can be underwhelming when required to work hard.
Under acceleration the Pulsar can take some urging. Summons power and the continuously variable automatic sings as it attempts to answer the call.
Push into a bend hard and there is ample body roll and it predictably scrubs wide on the corners.
Yet the Pulsar is easy to drive, with well-weight steering, and don't ask too much of the four-potter and it performs without fuss. At 110kmh it lops along nicely and quietly below 2000rpm.
What do you get?
All the kit is thrown at the Ti, which features sat nav, leather trim, 17-inch
alloys, keyless entry with push-button start, Xenon headlights and washers, sunroof, dual-zone air con and rear-view camera.
All Pulsars have six airbags, stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes, which contributed to a recently awarded five-star ANCAP rating.
When it comes to sedans, also worth considering is the Toyota Corolla Ultima sedan (from $31,990), Mazda3 SP25 (from $31,490), Hyundai Elantra Premium (from $28,990) and the sporty Holden Cruze SRI-V (from $26,490).
Our automatic Pulsar proved quite frugal on test, achieving about seven litres for every 100km (just above the official figure).
Nissan has also capped servicing costs for six years or 120,000km.
The Pulsar could use some additional storage spots for phones along with other goods and chattels, such as keys and MP3 players, but you do have two cup holders in the centre and space in the doors for bottles.
A weekly grocery trip can be swallowed by the large boot, but forget taking home any furniture or larger items as the back seats don't have a split-fold function.
This Ti model has some nice alloys and a small boot lid spoiler. It's not a heart-stopper in terms of external design, all the extroverted bling is being left to the SSS hatch that will be launched this month.
What matters most
The good stuff: Outstanding standard specifications, gigantic cabin space for this genre.
What we'd like to see: Zestier performance, more compliant ride with less roll in the corners.
Servicing and warranty: Three years/100,000km with 24 hour roadside assistance. Servicing is every six months or 10,000km. Capped price servicing for up to six years/ 120,000kms (whichever comes first). Average price over 12 services is $297.18.
Model: Nissan Pulsar Ti.
Details: Four-door front-wheel drive small sedan.
Engine: 1.8-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 96kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 174Nm @ 4800rpm.
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.
Consumption: 6.7 litres/100km (a).
CO2: 160g/km (a).
Bottom line: Ti $28,990 (a). Plus on-roads.
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