With a maximum output of 140 kW / 190 hp, a compact model has actually earned sporty insignia such as sleek body modifications or at least a nickname sounding like dynamics. Nissan dispenses with such a trim in the strongest variant of its golf competitor Pulsar to date, and makes the 24.190-euro Pulsar 1.6 DIG-T appear as inconspicuously as its significantly weaker motorized siblings.
The new 1,6-liter four-cylinder turbo of the Pulsar is no stranger. The direct injection engine is already in service in the Qashqai compact SUV, but has to make do with 120 kW / 163 hp. In the pulsar, on the other hand, it really shows muscles and makes an almost grotesquely big breakthrough in the engine range. Because if you want a weaker petrol engine, you have to go straight to the 1,2 liter entry-level gasoline engine with just 85 kW / 115 hp. Even the five-door diesel, with 81 kW / 110 PS, does not come remotely into similar performance regions as the new top petrol engine.
The powerful Pulsar petrol engine is also unusually positioned in comparison with the competition. The competition is in the 130 to 170 hp range, above which it offers its cars as sports models. Kia, for example, the Ceed GT (150 kW / 204 PS) comparable in terms of driving performance, Peugeot the 308 GT (152 kW / 205 PS). Unlike these two and numerous others, the Pulsar does without sports suspension, sports seats and sports optics. The top model only reveals details; such as the 18-inch wheels or the black instead of the chrome-plated surrounds of the LED headlights. Inside there are carbon trim parts and white stitching on the leather steering wheel and gear knob.
The unexcited appearance also fits the driving behavior. The 1,6-liter four-cylinder is not a riot brother, but a powerful and elastic power pack. The five-door car pushes 240 Nm forward, while remaining calm and quiet. The manual six-speed transmission, which is available as an alternative to power transmission, requires little effort thanks to the wide power panel of the turbo engine.
Compared to the weaker models, the chassis was slightly tightened and the steering was designed a little more directly. Both support the confident driving behavior of the five-seater. The manufacturer specifies 5,7 liters as the consumption value, but experience has shown that this cannot be maintained in practice. At least two liters more flowed through the injection nozzles during the short test drive. Nevertheless, the 1,6-liter turbo with its massive torque should also attract diesel fans with long-distance profiles, due to the lack of alternatives in the pulsar alone. However, the Nissan does not want to be a sports car - it leaves this role to the previously announced Nismo variant of the Pulsar, which should come sometime in the coming year with performance values above 200 hp.
It is an academic question whether the bourgeois model had to have 190 HP or whether just under 30 less would have been enough, as in the Qashqai. The standard and practical consumption values would probably not have been much lower even with a throttling. At most the price could have been a little more attractive. A good 24.000 euros are fine for a car in this performance class, especially if you take into account the relatively extensive equipment. In addition to the above-mentioned items, there are also automatic climate control, emergency brake assist and seat heating on board at no extra charge.
The bottom line is that the new engine is good for the entire series. So far, the Pulsar has suffered from being a car without major mistakes, but also without great advantages over strong competition (the biggest plus point is the high legroom in the rear). With the top petrol engine, you have now gained at least a small unique selling point and a little more emotionality. After all, ten percent of customers will choose the strong four-cylinder, is expected at Nissan.
Author: Holger Holzer / SP-X