Review: Nissan Pulsar ST Sedan

Posted by Daniel Backhaus
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An icon in Australian automotive history; the Nissan Pulsar was a fixture in driveways across the country for over two decades until it’s replacement in 2005. But now it’s back after ten years’ retirement to light up the small car segment with the 2014 Nissan Pulsar.

Replacing the Tiida, which never really caught on with buyers despite its class leading features – the 2014 Nissan Pulsar returns in both hatch and sedan form, with up to four grades of trim depending on what takes your fancy at the dealership.

I jumped into the base model Pulsar ST Sedan to see how much has changed in the near-decade it’s been away from Australia.

Initial Impression

2014 Nissan Pulsar

My test Pulsar sedan looks much more premium than the sub-$25,000 light sedan. From the outside, it certainly looks compact – a 2700mm wheelbase and 1495mm height translates into a small footprint on the road.

At 6’ 2”, I was worried that my test drive would be an uncomfortable experience – a worry that proved unfounded.

The Pulsar sedan maximizes interior space without sacrificing comfort through smart design choices by Nissan’s design team to create a modern cabin that has real space for five passengers.

With a six-speaker audio system, even my test base model comes with steering controls for the MP3-compatible stereo and hands free Bluetooth telephony.

Seating is well supported across all places, and carrying three of my bigger mates to touch practice proved to be an effortless exercise.

Driveability

2014 Nissan Pulsar ST Interior

The Pulsar ST comes fitted with a 1.8-litre twin cam four-cylinder petrol engine, matched with a six-speed manual transmission as standard. My test car was fitted with optional Xtronic CVT automatic, which delivers an optimal “gear” based on your drive, rather than using fixed gear ratios.

The CVT works a little differently than a regular auto. Rather than change up and down based on a set amount of gears, a CVT responds to how you drive and when you press down and lift off the accelerator. It basically works the same as a regular auto in practice, but thanks to its optimal power delivery, it can give better fuel economy and efficient performance.

Highway driving especially loves the CVT, which basically coasts along at 100km effortlessly. In fact, cruising at highway speeds is so breezy, I had to set the cruise control more than once so I didn’t end up with a ticket.

Liveability

2014 Nissan Pulsar ST

The Pulsar sedan is made for everyday life. With a 510-litre boot and generously proportioned back seat, there’s enough room for four passengers and their luggage – or just the bits and pieces that pile up from day to day errands. Versatile storage solutions innovatively take care of the things that inevitably get carried into the car from the house. Sunglasses, gum, makeup – there’s a place for everything in the Pulsar.

The six-speaker audio system delivers good sound quality – I was able to sing along (excellently, I might add) to all of my playlists thanks to MP3-compatible audio system and arguments about what I forgot to pick up at the shops came through loud and clear over the Bluetooth phone connection. And in my defense, I didn’t know we were out of shampoo.

Safety features in the Pulsar include front, side and curtain airbags, traction control, dynamic control, ABS and brake assist to deliver a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

The Pulsar sedan was engineered for modern life, and with such a long history in Australia – it’s adapted for the way we drive to deliver a stylish, reliable package that fits into your life.

Cost

2014 Nissan Pulsar ST

The Pulsar sedan range starts at $22,787 recommended driveaway price (RDP) for the base model ST manual. With optional Xtronic CVT automatic fitted, as in this review, expect to pay $25,156 (RDP.)

The flagship, top of the line Pulsar Ti sedan caps off the range at $33,087; with luxury additions including leather seats, dual zone air conditioning, reversing camera and in-dash satellite navigation.

The Pulsar returns an official fuel economy rating of 6.7L/100km in CVT form, while manuals sip 7.2L/100km. I got great fuel economy in a mixture of stop-start city driving and long stretches of highway, travelling over 300km on half a tank before the orange fuel light came on.

All Nissans are covered by a 3-year/100,000km warranty as well as a class-leading 6 years of myNissan capped price servicing. 24-hour roadside assistance is also thrown in, meaning your Pulsar will never be stranded.

Conclusion

After nearly ten years, the Pulsar is back with a vengeance. With over thirty years of history in Australia, this compact sedan proves that style and substance can co-exist.

With room for five adults, and storage on top of that, the Pulsar is unique amongst its competitors thanks to its ability to combine durable practicality and refined style.

To see how versatile the revitalised Pulsar range is, head to Motorama Nissan at Browns Plains and arrange a test drive.