N16 Pulsar Sedan
1 Jul 2000
By CHRIS HARRIS
In the latter 1990s cash-strapped Nissan had no choice but to re-body its ’95-vintage N15, itself a rehash of the once-leading N14 of 1991.
Needless to say the front-wheel drive N16 sedan feels older than its years, with safe and predictable but mediocre steering, handling and ride attributes, a gutsy but coarse 92kW/161Nm 1.8-litre DOHC 16V four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed auto or five-speed manual transaxle (a sweeter 83kW/140Nm 1.6 powered the base LX until the mid-range ST 1.8 ousted it in early ’03), and pleasant but smallish cabin putting the once-formidable Pulsar amongst the small-car also-rans.
Yet keen pricing and rising equipment levels (a driver’s side airbag, power steering, air-con, keyless entry and power mirrors were standard) kept sales humming along.
Sadly the previous Pulsar’s 2.0 engine vanished, so all other models – ST, sporty Q and luxury Ti til February ’03 and then an upgraded ST, ST-L and Q until June ‘03 – were lumbered with the 1.8.
Meanwhile the significantly different Pulsar N16 hatchback was only built in the UK, so Australian buyers had to wait for a year for it to arrive.
A strong Sterling currency meant that the Japanese-built sedan was always cheaper and thus more popular – even though the hatch delivered better looks, dynamics and interior presentation.