Nissan Launches New Pulsar Hatchback

What am I looking at?

It's Nissan's new family hatchback, the Pulsar.

Fans of Japanese cars will recognise the name right off the bat - "Pulsar" was what the Japanese company called their hatchbacks in their home market in the 80s and 90s, which we got as the Sunny and Almera. This new Pulsar will slot right into the gap the Almera vacated in 2006 when it was cancelled in favour of the Qashqai crossover.

And what's new?

It's actually a little tough to say. The platform for the car is essentially shared with the Micra and Note, albeit lengthened by 10cm between the wheels. Meanwhile the engine range is already present in the new Qashqai. Although they were never officially sold in Europe, a lot of the Pulsar has been seen in other markets - Japan particularly - as the second generation Nissan Tiida.

However, this Pulsar will be built in Europe - at Nissan's Barcelona plant - for the European market, so while there'll be some familiarity if you happen to have driven a Tiida before, it ought to be a new experience.

What powers it?

At this autumn's launch there'll be two engines available, one petrol and one diesel. The petrol unit is a 1.2 turbo offering 113hp, with the 1.5 dCi diesel rated at 108hp. It's early doors in the publicity cycle so no performance figures are yet available, but Nissan has posited a 95g/km CO2 rating for the diesel, subject to homologation. That's roughly equivalent to 75mpg.

A 190hp, 1.6 litre version of the DiG-T petrol will join the range after launch, lending some hot hatch performance to the Pulsar.

Anything else?

Just like the new Qashqai, the Pulsar has oodles of tech thrown at it. The "Safety Shield" suite of electronic driver information aids (including emergency braking, moving object detection, lane departure warning and blind spot warning) will be offered as standard equipment on relevant specification models, while the updated "NissanConnect" interface also makes the transition from the crossovers down to the hatch.

Nissan is also citing class-leading headroom and legroom thanks to that 2,700mm wheelbase, offering more space for knees on the back row than many cars in the next class up.

Any alternatives?

Just a few.

The Pulsar will be taking on the biggest names in the business - Ford's Focus and Volkswagen's Golf. If you eschew sense and don't have either in your shortlist, the other competitors are numerous - Citroen C4, Renault Megane, Vauxhall Astra, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Peugeot 308, SEAT Leon and the list goes on and on and on.

Suffice to say Nissan has its work cut out. Its rivals continued making their C segment family hatchbacks right through the self-imposed hiatus and they've refined their art considerably.

How much will it cost me?

We don't know yet - prices will be announced closer to the autumn launch - but in order to be competitive the prices will need to be in the order of 17,000 for the 1.2.

In a line...

A welcome return, but it'll need to be stellar to succeed.

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