Nissan revives Pulsar nameplate

New Euro-hatch is aimed directly at the Volkswagen Golf market

Published: May 21, 2014, 2:00 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 3:00 PM

2015 Nissan Pulsar

The Nissan Pulsar name first appeared in North America as the early-1980s Pulsar NX coupe, which was based on the Sentra platform. It was replaced for 1987 by a quirky hatchback coupe, called just the Pulsar, which offered interchangeable fastback and wagon-back hatches.

The intent, one of several out-there ideas hatched under Jerry Hirshberger's tenure as Nissan's American design chief, was that the hatch lids could be exchanged quickly to provide customers with different capabilities for different circumstances.

The idea didn't catch on and the Pulsar name disappeared from the North American market in 1990.

It has continued to be used in other markets, however, and it's about to be rejoin the mainstream in Europe on a compact four-door hatch aimed directly at the Volkswagen Golf market.

Incorporating Nissan's most current styling cues, it was designed and engineered specifically for Europe, and it will be built at Nissan's Barcelona plant in Spain, with sales beginning this fall.

Thanks to the longest wheelbase in its class (2,700mm) and clever packaging, the Pulsar is said to offer considerably more rear leg and shoulder room than its segment rivals.

It also offers a wide range of advanced safety technologies, such as Forward Emergency Braking, Moving Object Detection, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Warning, typically associated with more premium vehicles.

Power comes from a choice of three different four-cylinder engines – all turbocharged – displacing 1.2, 1.5 and 1.6 litres.

Nissan says there are no plans to offer the new Pulsar in the U.S.A. But Canadians are much more receptive to hatchbacks than are Americans and the Sentra is available only as a sedan.

Plus, Nissan Canada has a precedent of offering models here that aren't sold south of the border – witness the current Micra. Just saying!