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red nissan pulsar

Nissan Pulsar review

The Nissan Pulsar is a family hatchback that offers tremendous value for money as a used buy. It comes with some useful safety equipment, a refined cruising character and a spacious, practical cabin– and it’s perfect for the school run or a weekday commuter trip to the tip after a spring clean.


Nissan played it safe when it designed the Pulsar – its curvaceous bonnet, slim headlights, alloy wheels, contoured side doors and arrowhead-shaped rear lights lend it a no-nonsense look.  

It’s closely related to the Nissan Qashqai and has adopted some of that 4x4’s styling and under-the-skin engineering. The Pulsar is available in Visia, Acenta, n-tec and Tekna trim levels – the latter enhancing its looks with LED headlights, front fog lights and larger alloy wheels. 

The Pulsar’s styling remained more or less the same during its four-year life in the UK and was no longer sold as a new car after 2018 – so if this car’s spacious credentials appeal, a used 2018 model is perhaps the next best thing. 

red nissan pulsar

Contoured side doors and arrowhead-shaped rear lights lend it a no-nonsense look.

What’s it like to drive?

The Nissan Pulsar came with a choice of engines when new – a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol, a 1.6-turbo petrol and a 1.5-turbo diesel. All have their strengths, but the 1.2 petrol is arguably the best, with decent performance and reasonable economy. The diesel engine is economical but needs to be worked harder on the motorway. 

The Pulsar’s soft suspension helps it to soak up bumps and ruts with minimum fuss. The body leans a bit more on roundabouts and on country roads than, say, a Ford Focus’s, but the car grips well and its light steering makes parking easy.  

red nissan pulsar side

The Pulsar’s soft suspension helps it to soak up bumps and ruts with minimum fuss.


As with the exterior, the Nissan Pulsar’s interior puts function before form, with a straightforward dashboard layout that features a few soft-touch plastics and employs a design that ‘sweeps’ into the front doors. You have to opt for N-TEC and Tekna trims to get a 5.8-inch touchscreen on the dash – otherwise, you have a more old-school audio interface with a small display, buttons and dials. Touchscreen-equipped trims get a DAB radio and sat-nav, as well as a reversing camera and Nissan’s Connect system, which works with several types of smartphone operating system. 

As standard, all Pulsars get Bluetooth, four speakers, air-con and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. Higher trims add another pair of speakers, dual-zone climate control, auto lights and wipers and a ‘surround view’ system which uses cameras to create a bird’s-eye view of the car on the touchscreen. 

Interior space is another Pulsar strength, with lots of room for those in the front and rear seats to stretch out. There’s also no hump in the floor and a decent amount of shoulder room to satisfy a centre rear passenger. The rear doors are particularly wide opening, which helps less mobile passengers to get in and out, and large windows all around give the interior an airy feeling. 

nissan pulsar interior


Front-seat occupants get a pair of cup holders, bins in the doors, a storage cubby and a good-sized glovebox, while those in the rear get cup holders and an armrest with the Acenta trim grade and above. Those outer rear seats also come with Isofix mounting points for child seats. 

The boot holds more luggage than that of a VW Golf or Ford Focus and the rear seat backs are split 60/40 – with them folded there’s a bit of a step in the floor. It’s still a large, well-shaped space that’s perfect for long loads. Even with the rear seats in place, there’s enough room for three suitcases in the Nissan Pulsar’s boot. 

 two people putting bikes into the boot of the nissan pulsar

Running costs and reliability

All of the Nissan Pulsar engines’ official economy figures were measured using the older NEDC method. Expect real-world miles-per-gallon for the 1.2 petrol engine to be somewhere in the low-40s, the 1.6 petrol to be in the 30s and the 1.5 turbodiesel to be in the high-50s.  

What we love

Comfort and space are the Nissan Pulsar’s key strengths.The cosy seats and soft suspension mean this is a car you can spend several hours in and get out feeling refreshed. Then there’s the rear legroom – this is a roomy car for5people. The Pulsar also provides a good amount of tech as standard, so you get a lot of goodies for your money. That makes it tremendous value for money if your budget is tight.

red nissan pulsar rear

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Town and country drivers




The family car market is chock-full of rivals that put performance and handling before everything else. The Nissan Pulsar opts for comfort and space – if you’re not too fussed about how a car hangs on in the bends and prefer something that relaxes, this hatchback could be a great fit.

This review was