It pitches into the heart of Britain’s most hotly contested family sector, and the N-Tec 1.5dCi emerges head and shoulders above most rivals at the price.
The range of 15 models with a choice of petrol or diesel engines, manual or automatic transmission and in four trim levels spans the £16,000 to £22,345 basket and our test car was about mid-way and the likely best seller in the series. It’s easy to understand why.
Standard on the N-Tec are advanced braking and traction control systems underfoot; sophisticated telephone, entertainment, navigation and information; stand-out styling with leather detailing and convenience features such as dual zone air conditioning, heated mirrors and rain sensing wipers, cruise control and stop/ start and powered windows.
The powertrain is particularly smooth and quiet and the overdrive ratios on the top three manual gears produce a very free-wheeling characteristic which means you can be very light footed on the throttle and achieve remarkable fuel figures – we saw 74.7mpg sustained for some time before it fell to our very good average overall.
It pulls away strongly though not quickly but by careful gear selection there is a lot of power for overtaking within the best band and it really cruised with utter composure and efficiency.
I liked the light though long travel clutch and flick of the wrist positive gearchanges, the feelsome brakes underfoot and the nicely weighted, vibration-free steering with its good turning circle for urban use,
It steered and gripped well with a tendency to run wide on tighter corners but it felt very safe.
The Nissan Pulsar N-Tec covered the miles easily and economically but also very comfortably and it really softened the worst country lanes we used in our test.
Secondary controls are mostly concentrated on the steering wheel spokes and columns and need familiarisation but worked well while the straightforward instruments and in-dash info-panel are very clear and well marked.
I found the heating and ventilation was easy to understand and worked well, backed up by four powered windows, but a sunroof is not an option at this level.
There is reasonable amount of oddments space but the individual compartments are on the small side throughout. The high cill to the boot means you have to lift heavier items in with some care but the capacity is good with rear seats in use and gradually increases with the offset split to a very good size for a family or reps car.
N-Tec has cloth trim and the seats are well shaped and supporting with good front adjustment room and five seat-belts are fitted. Legroom is generally good and headspace adequate for those of average height.
As it stands, the Nissan Pulsar sees a welcome return to the family sector by the company, the N-Tec 1.5dCi lacks nothing of note yet offers a lot at the price and it really feels very well made, drives well and its economy is excellent and performance is reasonable.
|Nissan Pulsar N-Tec 1.5dCi £20,595||Insurance group: 12E|
|Mechanical: 110ps 4cyl 1461cc TD engine, 6sp manual, front wheel drive, front strut and rear beam suspension, disc-brakes
L 4.39m; W 2.02m; H 1.52m; Kerb 1352kg; Boot 385-1395 litres
|Max speed: 118mph||0-62mph: 11.5sec|
|Combined mpg: 53mpg||CO2 emissions: 94gkm|
|BIK rating: 15%||Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000miles|