If a hot hatch is out of the ques­tion,qo, look at a warma sedasedan. . checks one that goes for power, the other poise

The Advertiser - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -


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.

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