Used Nissan Pulsar Hatchback (2014 - 2018) Comfort

Review by Keith Jones on
Last Updated: 15 Jan 2015
3.5
While the Nissan Pulsar name may be unfamiliar in the UK, this model heralds the Japanese brand's return to the mid-size family hatchback class for the first time since the demise of the Almera back in 2006. It's Europe's most competitively-fought market sector, with some very capable rivals; notably Volkswagen's Golf and its relations from SEAT and Skoda, Peugeot's latest 308 and Ford's ubiquitous Focus.

5 out of 5

Comfort

Of the various factors influencing Nissan Pulsar comfort levels, the single most important of these is the quality of its ride.

Nissan has shied away from bestowing the Pulsar with the kind of enthusiast-satisfying handling that the Ford Focus is blessed with, instead offering a level of soothing compliance to the suspension that outsmarts both the Golf and smaller-wheeled Peugeot 308s. Both high and low speed ride quality is excellent, the Pulsar dealing effectively with initial, harsher ruts, as well as ironing out smaller road ripples.

This complements the very spacious interior well, particularly in the rear, although whether people really need limousine-like legroom in the back of a hatchback of this size is debatable. Choose an Acenta model or higher and the rear bench seat comes equipped with a centre armrest, complete with obligatory cup holders. The rear bench itself is roomy enough for three, each with an adjustable head restraint.

Front seat occupants will find they sit a little higher than in other hatchbacks in this class, allowing for a greater view of the road ahead, as well as making the Pulsar easier to get in and out of.

The smooth ride and decent level of build quality means that the Pulsar is a quiet and rattle-free place to be, although the clatter of the diesel engine option can be intrusive. It’s also free from too much wind noise, aside from the usual low level audible turbulence around the door mirrors.

It’s a glassy cabin, meaning it can get hot inside the Pulsar, so sensibly all models come with air conditioning, although we’d recommend buying at least the Acenta grade with its standard dual-zone climate control.

4.5 out of 5

Practicality

With its spacious interior and five-door body, Nissan Pulsar practicality is right up there with the class leaders.

There’s a low loading lip and a wide tailgate opening to enable owners to make the most of the Pulsar’s 385-litre boot space. That’s a little larger than the Golf’s boot (380 litres), but significantly smaller than the 308’s 470-litre space and the Honda Civic’s 477-litre cargo bay.

Fold the seats over and it’s a different story, with the Pulsar’s 1,395-litre maximum volume outstripping all its rivals, although the rear seats aren’t flush with the boot floor, but they do split 60:40 to aid usability.

All that rear seat space is a boon when fitting child seats in there, with lots of room to manoeuvre cumbersome equipment. Two ISOFIX mounting points are also included. Acenta models upwards also benefit from keyless entry and exit, saving you fumbling for keys when your hands might otherwise be full.

Dotted around the cabin are a variety of door pockets, storage areas and little slots for hiding away detritus that tends to build up in car interiors over time.

Seat trims feel hard wearing, as do the interior plastics, with virtually everything finished in dark colours, hiding much of the signs of use that will inevitably accumulate.

Get a Nissan Pulsar Hatchback valuation

How does the boot space compare?

Nissan Pulsar Hatchback (14-18)
385 litres
362 litres
272 litres
237 litres
4 out of 5

Behind the wheel

That wide expanse of glass and the slightly elevated driving position gives the Nissan Pulsar best-in-class all-round visibility. On models fitted with reversing cameras and the aerial viewing system, reverse parking into bays becomes supremely easy.

Everything around you feels well-assembled, with the upper aspects of the dashboard featuring soft-touch plastics and switchgear that should stand the test of time, if not a tactile delight to use. That’s true of the steering, pedals and gear lever too, which are light to operate and encourage a gentler action.

The two main analogue instruments are clear, while the five-inch colour display between them plays host to a variety of different menu and information options. Pulsars fitted with the colour touch screen on the raised centre console offer clear graphics but some of the virtual buttons on the screen itself can be a bit fiddly to hit precisely when on the move.

Nissan’s sensibly made all the wealth of technology included in the Pulsar package easy to use with unambiguous displays, something that will prevent some technophobe buyers being alienated.

Despite all its plus points, the Pulsar’s interior doesn’t feel very special and there’s little to get excited about – paler colours might help lift the mood but Nissan’s chosen a sombre palette for its interior.