A few months back Car magazine ran a very harsh review of the 2015 Nissan Pulsar. You can read the text here (undated) to see all that they said.
Ever since then I have been wondering how bad could it be so in the name of half-baked research I went to look at a real Pulsar but didn’t manage to actually drive it. Key to understanding the Pulsar is this part of the Car review: “The wheelbase of the Barcelona-built Pulsar, at 2.7 metres, is the longest in its class, no doubt helping the supple ride quality, and rear legroom (all 692mm of it) at least matches a Skoda Superb, and might even better it.”
A little later on they write: “The Pulsar also has – and be prepared to fall on them faint with amazement – the widest front door armrests in the sector. Spanning 95mm across their softly bolstered width, such cosseting homes for elbows are not usually seen outside the luxury sector, Nissan reckons”. If we overlook the snide aside, the aim of this car is really clear. It’s a comfort-orientated vehicle that aims to provide a really great place for the driver and the passengers to pass the miles.
It manifestly isn’t a track day killer and shouldn’t be judged as such. It’s a woeful car to smoke in though, as there are no ashtrays. Apart from that much of what I see seemed agreeable, specifically the roomy interior and pleasant all-round visibility.
Autocar viewed Nissan’s offering in a more balanced way: “In this incredibly competitive class, the Pulsar’s main attributes are class-leading interior space, above-average refinement, and a suite of driver aids grouped under the ‘Nissan Safety Shield’ umbrella.”
The interior design manages something quite pleasing, to sort out the relationship of the information screen and the rest of the centre console controls. Rather than have the screen as an isolated feature (also acceptable) Nissan have enlarged the “frame” of the screen and brought all the controls into its scope. This then all appears to float in front of the rest of the dashboard. I think that’s quite a neat conceit.
The material textures are technicalesque and everything I touched had an appropriate texture (What Car? disagree). I prodded the roof-mounted interior lamp and it did not budge a fraction which indicates someone cared to fix this securely to the body. Nice touch, that.
You will need to get to the middle range of the spec hierarchy to get a rear centre arm-rest. Black mark. These are essential features in any vehicle you intend to drive even a moderate distance in. They ought to be standard.
Turning to my focus of the moment, colour: the Pulsar in Denmark comes with nine exterior shades though two pairs of those are whites and reds which are indistinguishable in normal conditions. A bronze is available and also a pleasing blue. The interior colours let the side down. I see this car as a comfort cruiser so an extra helping of cosiness is needed above the beige fabric offered.
What I have learned from this is that it doesn’t make sense to judge a car in terms of something it is not. The long wheelbase of the Pulsar and the efforts made to give it a relaxing demeanour speak of a car which is intended to set itself apart on terms other than outright performance.
Of course, I will have to test this car to see if it is as pleasant as it promises. Nissan’s planners are taking a risk with this strategy but I would expect journalists to give them some credit for this rather than assuming that because the Pulsar is not competing with the others on their terms it can be written off casually.