You are here
The Top Gear car review:Nissan Pulsar
For:Spacious in the rear, clear dash buttons, um...
Against:Simple lack of conviction, exactly what purpose does it serve?
1.2 DiG-T Acenta 5dr
What we say:
Nothing wrong with it, apart from being drab and unimaginative, and really not much fun
What is it?
Nissan’s first appearance in the standard family hatch battle for some years. You might remember that when launching the first Qashqai, Nissan said there was no space for it competing against the likes of the Focus. But now the Qashqai has brought the company back to prominence, and it wants to be able to enter fleet deals, for which it needs a regular Focus competitor. And so we once again have a Nissan five-door hatch.
The 1.2 turbo petrol is a modern economical unit that runs sweetly at urban and suburban speeds. But on major roads it’s sluggish, hampered further by long gears that are designed to amplify the economy. The 1.5 diesel alternative is also well-mannered and easy to use, if short on force, and it’s competitive on economy. Everyone should avoid the disappointing 1.6T.
To drive, the steering is accurate and progressive, and it’s all reassuringly stable. Just not much fun. The ride is quiet, too, if firmer than you might expect. Many models get elements of Nissan’s safety and comms suite – a connected nav system in many, and a bird’s eye view monitor and blind-spot warning in the top model. The blind-spot system cleverly uses the same little camera in the rear. Same for a lane-departure warning, which uses the front camera. Mind you, that one is over £20k. Mid-trim brings bright LED headlamps.
On the inside
There seems a lack of conviction here. The bigger, more premium Qashqai is more imaginatively styled and better built. But let’s pass over the slightly scratchy and undistinguished feeling of the dash plastics. At least the controls and switches are pretty clear, and the centre console is made a bit more interesting by appearing to float out from the dash. But really, the Pulsar has but one outstanding feature, and if you need it then you need it. Rear space is terrific. Class-leading. A match for many cars a size up, actually. This is why you’ll buy it instead of a Focus or a Golf. The boot is big, but lacks anything in the way of clever storage options or even a flat floor when the seats are folded forward.
The two engines do well on economy and CO2 and besides, this isn’t a car that encourages you to drive it with economy-denting abandon. The fitment of radar-triggered city braking in most models is good for insurance premiums, and the bird’s eye view monitor is great for manoeuvring in tight urban spots. An easy, if forgettable, car to own.