Healthy pulse of people power
IT’S easy to get dazzled at a motor show. I admit to losing focus as I fronted up to the fan favourites at the Australian International Motor Show: the wicked Aston Martin One-77, the latest Lamborghini Gallardo and the bold new Jaguar F-Type.
With the action over for another year, I pondered my pick for best in show. The Ford Evos concept car with four gullwing doors? The Lexus concept with the giant grille? The green-power Holden Volt?
No, no and no. My car of the 2012 show is the Nissan Pulsar.
It may be only a humble little hatch but it’s the proof that Nissan is finally back on track in Australia and planning to push hard and reward customers with a wide spread of newcomers, starting with the Pulsar but also including the funky Juke and hulking Patrol. Go back a few years. Nissan ran off the small-car rails when it dumped the Pulsar in favour of the ... let’s say ... underwhelming Tiida, priced far too high for Australians, who see $20,000 as the cut-off for affordable small cars.
Japanese management had decided the Tiida was all we needed, despite its development as a cut-price Asian car, and it was also fine to walk away from one of the most popular badges in the business.
Nissan promoted the Tiida name as ‘‘ like the tide washing a beach’’, a fairytale eventually denied by a Nissan trump who said it was a made-up name.
Carsguide went on the attack and a posse of Nissan dealers headed to Japan to plead for sanity. But the Tiida stayed and Nissan sales slumped.
Then head of Nissan Australia Dan Thompson knew what was needed and promised the Pulsar would be back in 2012. He lobbied hard for the return of the name and the car; now marketing firebrand Bill Peffer is running with his legacy.
For the past five years, a lot of Australians have been missing an affordable Pulsar (with a sporty SSS variant). Now they can get what they want, instead of what Nissan tells them they need, as people power scores another big win.