Car reviews - Nissan - Pulsar - Q 5-dr hatch
Stylish, comfortable, versatile, economical, reliable, fun to drive
Room for improvement
Dreary cabin, not a great leap forward over its N14 predecessor
25 Jun 2003
THE Nissan Pulsar has been one of Australia's most popular small cars since it was first sold in 1980.
The fifth-generation Pulsar, released in October, 1995, was longer, wider and heavier than its predecessor, which moved it up out of the small car class into the small-medium bracket.
There are two body styles, a sedan and a hatchback.
The hatch looks more like a station wagon than a hatch and followed a trend, along with other manufacturers, popularised by Subaru with the Impreza but really started by Nissan Australia with the unsuccessful Pintara Superhatch.
The sedan is aimed at older, more conservative buyers while the hatch is marketed to attract the younger market. It has been a successful sales tactic.
The hatchback has three equipment levels - the base LX, the mid- range Q and the SSS at the top level.
The Pulsar Q equipment level includes a driver's airbag and most sensible creature comforts such as central locking, electric mirrors and a four-speaker, security-coded radio/cassette. Air- conditioning was an extra cost option.
From the outside, the Q can be distinguished by decals on the rear doors, body coloured bumpers and a roof spoiler which looks more like a sun shade over the hatch window.
Inside there is space to comfortably accommodate four adults or five for short trips.
The split rear seat back folds down which makes the Pulsar a useful cargo carrier.
The four-cylinder, 1.6-litre engine continued over from the previous model with internal improvements, one being variable valve timing for the inlet camshaft, which increased the power output to 86kW at 6400rpm and the torque to 147Nm at 4000rpm.
Nissan used a chain to drive the two overhead camshafts in this engine instead of the more common rubber cam belt which can fail with expensive results if not replaced at the recommended intervals.
The suspension uses struts and coil springs at the front and a multi-link torsion beam with coil springs at the rear. Overall, the suspension is a good balance between ride comfort and cornering ability.
Within the limits of the tyres, the Pulsar has safe, vice-free handling and braking.
The Pulsar Q incorporates tried and proven engineering which makes it and most of its rivals comfortable, safe, economical and long lived, given reasonable treatment.
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