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2016 Nissan Pulsar – lovely smooth, quiet family workhorse [Review]

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The new 2016 Nissan Pulsar is an example of an ‘ordinary’ family car which delivers impressive smoothness and style, without breaking the bank too much. It’s aimed squarely at the VW Golf in terms of size and specification, and cost, and manages to deliver a credible amount of style to the task. We took one over for a couple of weeks extended test to see how it fares in general motoring terms.

The 2016 Nissan Pulsar is a family cousin to the hugely popular Nissan Qashqai, which means it comes with the same sort of space, comfort and all round golly gosh practicality that makes or breaks this genre. Take a look at our video below to get an idea of how it performs.

First impressions
The Pulsar Tekna as tested features an 1197cc petrol engine delivering 85PS, with a 6 speed manual transmission, a 0-62 mph speed of 10.7 seconds, and a combined fuel consumption 56.5 mpg. All wrapped up in a comfortable 5 seater hatchback format. It also comes with a roomy 492 kg payload in the rear, which is more than enough to cope with a full family trip with all the gear.

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In fact it’s the overall practicality of the car which is the first thing you notice. It’s not flashy in any way, nor does it come with any standout gimmicks, but what it does do, is deliver that much sought after ‘fuss-free motoring’ so beloved of the pundits. It’s quiet, smooth and refined in general use, and perfect for the real world needs of a family transport.

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In use
The styling of the Tekna model we tested is also definitely more stylish than a lot of rivals in this price bracket. The subtle touches around the rear tail-lights and hatch, the sweeping curve down to the nose, and the addition of those subtly stylish wheels help with the overall effect.

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Nor does it disappoint inside. The rear has an impressive amount of leg-room, even with the front seats comfortably set back for a long journey, and the driver’s position is comfortable enough to soak up the miles when necessary. We took the car on an extended trip across Europe as part of the test, and came away very impressed with how refreshed we felt even after several thousand miles of driving.

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A lot of this has to do with the fact that, although modest in size, the engine never really feels stressed. Coupled with the lazy 6 speed, you can just cruise for hours with no harshness or headache inducing noise. A credit to the designers. Push it along and you will definitely notice the engine note become a little more fussed, but for the majority of the time, the car is remarkably smooth to drive in all ways.

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The interior ergonomics also play their part, with a nice clear dash, a luxurious feel from the centre mounted GPS and controls which fall easily to the hand. It’s all where it should be, and once you kick in the cruise control, there’s little to do except avoid hitting ducks and tired lumberjacks. Three cheers also for a heating/cooling system which makes sense, instead of making you feel like you’ve stepped into a spaceship. Set and forget.

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Conclusion
The Pulsar is a surprisingly competent performer and more than impresses with its ride, handling and comfort, especially over long runs. Around town you may find that you’re having to run through the six-speed box a little more than expected, but again, once you get used to it, third gear becomes a most useful and effective way to navigate city traffic in general. Interior comfort is top notch, as is the payload space of the hatch area, and we have to say that in general terms we preferred it to the VW Golf in overall ‘liveability’.

Price (as tested): £21,450.00

Specifications:
Engine Name 1.2 DIG-T 115
Max engine power KW(PS)/rpm 85
Max. engine power (PS) 115
Capacity (L) 1,197
Gears 6
Transmission Manual
Fuel Type Petrol
Emission Level EURO5b+
Torque (Nm) 190

Acceleration 0-62mph – 10.7 secs
Fuel Consumption Combined (mpg) – 56.5
Fuel Consumption Extra Urban (mpg) – 65.7
Fuel Consumption Urban (mpg) – 44.8
Maximum speed (mph.) – 118

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


  • Malatrope

    Nigel, is this going to be imported into America? Perhaps this was in the video, but I didn’t catch it.

    • Oh good question, I’m actually not sure. There’s not much of a Pulsar history in the US, so it’s probably not. Or it may arrive called something else.

      • Malatrope

        That is a shame. The American public has never embraced high fuel mileage cars (they are too interested in getting to the speed limit faster than anyone else) so it is difficult to find a good small engined car here. I will keep a lookout, though.

        • Well I have a feeling that with the arrival of the Bolt and Tesla 3, things may change shortly in the US. :)

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