No thrills but Pul­sar no dill

Nis­san’s Pul­sar has a rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars 2000- 2006 N16 Nissan Pulsar -

YOU have to won­der about car com­pa­nies that dump a name that has be­come pop­u­lar and re­place it with a name that no one knows.

Ford did it with its top-sell­ing small car, the Laser, then had to watch as its small-car sales dropped dra­mat­i­cally. Nis­san did it when it re­placed the pop­u­lar Pul­sar with the oddly named Ti­ida.

The Pul­sar name­plate dates back to 1980 and over the years earned a rep­u­ta­tion for solid re­li­a­bil­ity, good value for money and econ­omy of op­er­a­tion.

By the time the N16, the last of the line, was re­leased in 2000 it was a well-equipped, good-sized small car that per­formed well, was eco­nom­i­cal and gave lit­tle trou­ble.

If it had a prob­lem, per­haps it was that it had be­come tired. It was a car for those of us with grey, or no, hair, and was not hip enough to ap­peal to younger buy­ers.

MODEL WATCH

THE N16 Pul­sar sedans were built in Ja­pan and were the first launched in 2000. The five-door hatch­backs came from Eng­land and ar­rived in the mid­dle of 2001.

It was no bea­con of con­tem­po­rary style, ad­mit­tedly, but it was a good­look­ing small car with pleas­ant pro­por­tions and clean lines. Per­haps it was too nice and didn’t have the sort of edge young buy­ers wanted.

There were four ver­sions of the sedan at launch, start­ing with the LX and work­ing up through the ST, sporty Q and lux­ury Ti. When the hatch­back came a year later, it added ST and Q ver­sions to the range.

The Pul­sar grew larger over time and the N16 was quite a bit big­ger than the mod­els that went be­fore it, but that ex­tra size trans­lated into de­cent in­te­rior room.

Rear pas­sen­gers may have suf­fered a lit­tle for space, but those in the front en­joyed gen­er­ous room.

Like the ex­te­rior, there was noth­ing flashy about the Pul­sar’s in­te­rior.

It was laid out log­i­cally and was com­fort­able.

Me­chan­i­cally, the Pul­sar was quite a con­ven­tional front-wheeldrive model.

There were two en­gines on of­fer. The LX en­try-level model had a 1.6-litre dou­ble over­head camshaft four with fuel in­jec­tion, which pro­duced 83kW and 140Nm.

It was an eco­nom­i­cal en­gine, but the 1.8-litre en­gine that pow­ered the rest of the range had a lit­tle more zip.

With more per­for­mance, thanks to its 92kW and 161Nm, the 1.8-litre en­ables the Pul­sar to stay on the pace in the heavy go­ing around town.

Both en­gines were avail­able with ei­ther a five-speed man­ual gear­box or a four-speed auto.

The Pul­sar was light and nim­ble, mak­ing it a breeze around town and easy to park.

On the open road it was quite com­posed, with a sup­ple sus­pen­sion able to soak up most of what was thrown at it with­out be­ing up­set.

The ride was com­pli­ant and com­fort­able for a small car and its han­dling was well bal­anced.

ON THE LOT

THE LX sedan was the price leader for the N16 and can now be bought for $8000-$12,000, but mod­els with the 1.8-litre en­gine are a bet­ter buy.

They’re not only more pleas­ant to drive, with the ex­tra power avail­able from the larger en­gine, but they also hold their re­sale value bet­ter.

ST sedans can be found for $8000-$15,000, sim­i­lar hatches for $9500-$15,500.

The sporty Q sedan costs $ 9500-$ 18,000 and hatches $10,500-$18,000.

For a lux­ury ride, go for the Ti sedan, for $10,000-$15,000.

IN THE SHOP

THE Pul­sar has a good rep­u­ta­tion for build qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity.

Noth­ing se­ri­ous seems to go wrong with them. Look for a ser­vice record to make sure of a reg­u­lar main­te­nance rou­tine.

Be­fore the N16, Nis­san used a chain to drive the camshaft, but both the N16 en­gines had belts. Make sure the belt has been changed ac­cord­ing to the ser­vice sched­ule.

Many Pul­sars were used by the rental in­dus­try, which means they ac­cu­mu­late kilo­me­tres quickly and can be driven by un­car­ing driv­ers.

Any Pul­sar with a higher than nor­mal odome­ter read­ing could well have been a renter. Ne­go­ti­ate hard to lower the ask­ing price on a car that ap­pears to have a rental back­ground.

IN A CRASH

ALL mod­els have a driver’s airbag, but some also have an airbag for the front pas­sen­ger and anti-skid brakes.

AT THE PUMP

THE N16 is gen­er­ally an eco­nom­i­cal car. It should do 7.5 to 8.5 litres per 100km in gen­eral use.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

WELL-BUILT, re­li­able small car that will cut your fuel bills.

Fuel miser: the N16 Pul­sar was a good-look­ing small car with pleas­ant pro­por­tions and clean lines. It is value for money and eco­nom­i­cal.

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