Spot Check on the Motoring Press

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.

2015 Nissan Pulsar in Dig-T 115 Tekna X-tronic trim. Leather, autobox and alloys.
2015 Nissan Pulsar in Dig-T 115 Tekna X-tronic trim. Leather, autobox and alloys.

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.”

2015 Nissan Pulsar interior, mid-range model.
2015 Nissan Pulsar interior, mid-range model.

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.

2015 Nissan Pulsar interior C-pillar RH

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.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

8 thoughts on “Spot Check on the Motoring Press”

  1. I remember making some disparaging below the line comments about that review, stuffed as it was with jaundiced, mealy-mouthed criticisms. Car is not Autocar, I know, but every car deserves a fair crack of the whip.

  2. If the Restaurant critics of magazines only liked steaks, the Literary critics only liked spy stories and the Film critics only liked RomComs they’d never get the job. But Motoring journalists don’t seem to feel obliged to have breadth and objectivity.

  3. Some people just want a hatchback that is not riddled with intolerable vices. Seems to me that the Pulsar would be as good a car as any other in that respect, perhaps better if it has a nice ride, decent controls and can be bought on a good deal.

  4. Not very long ago, I wrote some rather disparaging comments about the Pulsar, based on it’s appearance. I still consider it to be somewhat over-bodied, but I’m minded to think better of it in the light of this review. Back in the days of the Car forum, there was an automotive Room 101 thread. Into this, I suggest we add the current generation of motoring journalists; in particular, the preening, self-regarding bunch at TWBCM.

  5. I´m prepared to concede this is not an “exciting” car and also insist that not every car can or should be exciting. There are other parameters. The Pulsar is an attempt to find another group of buyers. It may very well end up forgotten in 12 years but could also be a car whose owners liked a great deal because it suited their needs.

  6. I’ve now read the Car piece. Were I still a loyal contributor to their website, I’d be moved to write :

    Oi, Steve Moody. I put my time in here for free. As such I have the right to be as ignorant, bigoted, glib, snide and subjective as I choose. You, however, are a professional motoring journalist. Had I not given up on your magazine after 40 years loyal subscription, I might even be tempted to say that I pay your wages. As a professional you should grit your teeth and be totally objective, realising that not all cars are made for your enjoyment and that, despite being interested in cars, some of your readers make their purchasing decisions with others in mind using the soft matter that lives at the top of their heads, not between their legs. And, on that matter, I’d point out that if I want to read cheap jokes, I’ll buy the Beano.

  7. Today, Jaguar has released a photo of the new XF’s interior. So far, so interesting for the enthusiast/anorak – if only it wasn’t quite so obvious that the accompanying news item on TWBCM’s website wasn’t written by an autonomous human being, but by Google’s new Instatexta® cloud-based copywriting software.

    “Smart, eh? There’s still plenty of wood and leather but it’s a far more modern, less traditional-looking environment than Jaguars of the recent past. Check out the trendy vodka bar mood lighting illuminating the door switches and underlining the centre console – no pipe, or slippers, here.”
    The year is 2015, not 2008. Instatexta is obviously getting the different components for its texts from older reports on similar topics. Limiting the age of the source used might be the answer to this niggle.

    “Jag’s stuck with the rotary gear selector, but has it ditched the swivelling air-vents, a party piece of the original XF? They look decidedly conventional in this image.”
    The human eye can spot rectangular outlines on the dash’s extremities – Instatexta obviously needs some additional fine tuning to its shape recognition programming.

    The future of lazy journalism is bright. The future is Instatexta®.

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