NISSAN PULSAR SSS SEDAN
If a hot hatch is out of the question, look at a warma sedan. . Richard Blackburn checks one that goes for power, the other poise
Well-appointed for a small car, it has standard satnav, rear camera and parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, leather accented trim and dusk-sensing xenon headlights. Capped servicing is $838 over three years, at intervals of 12 months/10,000km. But if you average 15,000km, you’ll be up for a fourth service at a steep $491.
If you spot an old SSS, it’s likely to have an exhaust the width of a paint can, but this model is conservatively styled inside and out. There are a subtle bootlid spoiler, body skirts to make it look lower to the ground and 17-inch alloys. Inside, the only real hints it might be a bit sporty are the push-button starter and some faux-carbon highlights on the centre console and door trim. It is roomy, though.
The SSS gets a 1.6-litre turbo in lieu of the sedate 1.8-litre in other Pulsars. It doesn’t elevate the SSS to hot-hatch performance territory but it is a lively performer when kept in its sweet spot. With 140kW/240Nm, it pulls strongly from rest and in gear but without exhaust-note excitement. Thirst is on the high side for its size (7.7L/100km for the manual) and it uses premium unleaded.
The standard Pulsar sedan scored five stars and 32.67 points out of 37 in ANCAP crash tests. It has six airbags and standard reversing camera, but the seat belt reminders cover only the front seats and there are no crash avoidance aids such as blind spot warning or lane departure.
The punchy turbo engine creates the potential for a fun drive but the rest of the Pulsar package is built for comfort not speed. It rides well around town and the light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre — point it at a twisty section of road, however, and it soon disappoints. The soft suspension and overly light steering mean the car doesn’t inspire confidence at higher speeds, while it’s easy to spin the front wheels on slippery surfaces.