Mid­dle ground claim

All-round com­pe­tence adds to the Euro-la­bel im­pres­sion

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

SOME­ONE has been teach­ing Nis­san about mean, mode and me­dian. No mat­ter the cho­sen val­ues, the new Pul­sar sedan oc­cu­pies the mid­dle ground in the small car class.

That’s a ma­jor lift on the Ti­ida that came be­fore it and the Pul­sar’s mix of com­fort and space makes it a small car worth con­sid­er­ing.

VALUE

At $28,990 the top-line Ti is com­pet­ing with the likes of the Mazda3 SP20, Toy­ota Corolla, Ford

Fo­cus and Holden Cruze. Nis­san’s ap­proach has been to craft a plush, ac­com­mo­dat­ing ve­hi­cle. It com­pen­sates for a lack of sporty looks or han­dling— that role will be filled by the SSS hatch later this year— by tak­ing four adults and ma­jor ur­ban road ob­sta­cles in its stride.

On top of that, it is packed with gear in­clud­ing dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, Blue­tooth with au­dio stream­ing, a touch­screen with sat­nav and a re­vers­ing cam­era.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The Pul­sar may be a new car, but there’s not much new in the way of features. The CVT is cal­i­brated for fuel econ­omy and, un­less the ac­cel­er­a­tor is on the floor, is far less prone to emit the boom­ing drone that blights sim­i­lar trans­mis­sions.

It’s a fairly re­fined ride at 100km/h, where tyre noise is the big­gest in­tru­sion in the cabin. Click the sport but­ton on the gearshift, though, and the per­cep­ti­ble lift in en­gine re­sponse brings a match­ing rise in noise.

DE­SIGN

A re­fined look with clean lines and LED run­ning lights on the out­side is matched by an easyto-op­er­ate in­te­rior.

The in­stru­ment panel uses a tra­di­tional two-dial ap­proach for tacho and speedo— there is no dig­i­tal speed dis­play— and the au­dio con­trols are mounted on the steer­ing wheel, along with the cruise con­trols.

Chrome high­lights add up­mar­ket bling and there are smart touches such as the well­padded front door arm­rests.

The cen­tre bin is set too far back to be eas­ily ac­cessed by front-seat oc­cu­pants, though. And the de­fault set­ting on the fuel con­sump­tion is in km/litre, not litres/km.

SAFETY

AN­CAP hasn’t de­formed the Pul­sar’s pan­els yet, so there’s no of­fi­cial ver­dict on how the small sedan will per­form. It has a reg­u­la­tion six airbags and safety soft­ware and, with a big­ger, stiffer body than the Ti­ida, should rate as a four- or five-star car.

DRIV­ING

The Pul­sar ex­cels as an up­mar­ket shop­ping trol­ley. It is com­pe­tent in just about ev­ery de­part­ment with­out be­ing a stand­out in any of them.

The sedan is well-man­nered at ur­ban speeds, uses just on seven litres/100km of petrol in real-world driv­ing and the steer­ing is light­weight with­out be­ing vague.

Load a pair of adults in the back and they won’t com­plain about leg space or head­room.

The boot is huge at 510 litres and you’d really have to be pack­ing a load to be lim­ited by the goose­neck hinges. The ab­sence of a port or fold­ing rear seats is a draw­back to car­ry­ing long items, though.

On twisty roads the lack of power and out­right han­dling starts to show as the CVT tries to hold peak torque and the soft sus­pen­sion in­duces a touch of cabin-wob­ble through the left-right turns. Triv­ial stuff, given most own­ers won’t be as­pir­ing to chase 370Zs through the hills.

VER­DICT

The Pul­sar is a gen­uine ri­val to the Toy­ota Corolla as a util­i­tar­ian ve­hi­cle de­signed to do ev­ery­thing well. It may be ‘‘ white­goods on wheels’’ but the Nis­san gives the im­pres­sion you’ve bought one of those Euro­pean la­bels.

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