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Meet the Nismo Pulsar hot hatch
The Nissan Pulsar GTI-R remains an iconic name for a certain generation. Specifically, the generation that enjoyed wearing baseball caps, loved the sound of turbo chatter and liked their cars with bulging, slatted bonnets.
Time to party like it’s 1991. Today at the Paris motor show Nissan pulled the sheets from the GTI-R’s successor, the Nissan Pulsar Nismo.
Now, before you start furiously cancelling your deposit on that Focus ST, hold on a tick. This is, formally, a design study only, but it’s a mighty convincing one.
Nissan’s motorsport arm Nismo has taken the sensible C-segment hatch and kickstarted its heart. It’s not yet clear precisely how much power it has extracted from that 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbo engine up, but our best snooping revealed an output somewhere between 250bhp and 275bhp.
That’s more than enough to take the fight to the doorstep of the Golf GTI and the Renault Megane RenaultSport, and would keep the upcoming Civic Type R honest too.
Visually, the Nismo Pulsar is making a statement. It’s been slammed so hard the new carbon fibre chin spoiler is brushing the ground, while two exhausts now sprout centrally from a carbon fibre bumper and a carbon fibre spoiler sits atop like a sporty tiara. Lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres fill the arches, as do vast, ventilated brakes.
Inside there are Recaro bucket seats, a thinner Alcantara-lined sports wheel and alcantara gearstick. It’s all very proper.
We spoke to Pulsar product manager Andrew Limbert, who confirmed Nissan wants to get back into the hot hatch playground. But even though Nismo has been tuning Nissans for the last 40 years, the brand remains in its infancy in Europe.
However, in a short space of time Nismo has knocked out three variants – the Juke, 370Z and GTR – in quick succession, and is keen to add a hot hatch to that portfolio.
But Limbert admitted the Nissan board is currently struggling with exactly where to pitch a hot Pulsar. The Nismo brand is still attempting to establish its identity, with some efforts – the Juke, for example – receiving only mild tweaks, while others – the GTR – are hardcore, stripped out nutjobs.
Which is why Nismo is trialling different powertrain options and outputs for the Pulsar. These seem likely to vary from 200bhp-region Kia Pro_Cee’d style levels, through 220+bhp Golf GTI territory and finally into the 300bhp-plus A45 AMG arena.
And Limbert said Nissan wants feedback from car enthusiasts – that’s you lot – on where the Pulsar should sit on the hot hatch spectrum.
So let’s hear it. Which hot hatches should a fast Pulsar target, and how much power should it pack? Thoughts below, please…