2013 Nissan Pulsar ST-S review

2013 Nissan Pulsar ST-S review

It doesn’t make sense. Somehow, Nissan has taken all the design cues you would find their larger vehicles, and built them into their new Pulsar. An interior that is not short on space, engine options that give you more than adequate power at your right foot, and the awesome styling that is found on the Pulsar’s 370Z and Murano stable mates. Then again, if you put it like that, it does make some sense.
After a seven year absence from our shores, the Pulsar nameplate made its return in the form of the sedan in February this year. According to Nissan Motor Company CEO, William Peffer Jr: ‘Nissan is excited to complete the comeback of the Pulsar today with the launch of the Pulsar Hatch. The Australian market has embraced the Pulsar sedan since its launch in February. Now we can offer an even more compelling case with the four grades of Pulsar, including two turbocharged variants’. This is part of Nissan’s larger plan to roll out multiple new models over the course of the year, including the Patrol V8 and funky Juke crossover. Today’s feature car is their latest release, the new Nissan Pulsar Hatch, a little car with a big car feel.
Jumping behind the wheel, the first thing you will notice is how much the Pulsar doesn’t feel like a small car. To give you an idea of how much space this car has, with the driver’s seat adjusted to suit my 197 cm frame, I can sit in the back seat behind the driver comfortably. A dash that starts low then curves up towards the windscreen, and lowset console give plenty of room to stretch out. The seat bolsters are comfortable but unobtrusive, and more than ample enough to secure you in a spirited cornering manoeuvre. Every relevant control falls easily to hand, with the steering wheel bristling with buttons to ensure you don’t take your attention away from the road, plus Bluetooth capability comes standard on all models across the range.
Today’s feature car is the ST-S, powered by a 1.6 litre turbo engine, backed up by a constantly variable transmission (CVT). Upon start up, the car is whisper quiet, something you would expect from a brand new car. What you don’t expect is the power unleashed by the diminutive engine, enough so that you can find yourself sitting on the speed limit long before you expect it. Being fitted with Nissan’s DIG injection system, the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber, as opposed to through an inlet manifold as with other engines. This allows for greater control over the combustion process, raising power & torque levels while accurately controlling emission levels.
The CVT makes this car a delight to drive in traffic, far outperforming the traditional ‘automatic’ style gearbox. It does this by having constantly variable gear ratios, omitting the clunk felt on up-shift during acceleration, and the lurch felt on deceleration, even while using the ‘tiptronic’ manual shifting mode. Steering is light, light even for a car as small as this, which makes navigating car parks a breeze. The ST-S rolls on 17 inch rims, wrapped in Continental tyres, a good choice that gives a high friction level, while maintaining low road noise at high speed.
All in all, the new Nissan Pulsar hatch is a surreal experience. To look upon that stylish yet small body, then to stretch out in its expansive exterior seems strange. To look at it’s a cute little engine, then to experience the large amount of power under acceleration. And with a starting price of $28,010 for the ST-S, ultimately the Pulsar Hatch does make sense.

Thanks to Nepean Motor Group for supplying the vehicle to be reviewed.

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