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Pulsar - a practical family alternative.

Byline: MOTORING WITH LEE GIBSON DRIVETIME

THE Nissan Qashqai has become something of a phenomenon since it first hit our roads in 2006.

The clean The car that really kickstarted the crossover craze, it was an instant hit and is now the benchmark by which other entrants into this increasingly competitive market sector are often judged.

lines Surprising as it may seem to the marketing men, though, not everyone has been won over by the pumped up, in-your-face styling of these hatchback/SUV mash-ups.

So for those contrary folk who refuse to ride the crest of the latest trendy wave, Nissan offers the Pulsar.

Launched a year ago, this represents the Japanese car-maker's return to the traditional family hatchback market for the first time since the drab Almera disappeared almost a decade ago.

Without the raised suspension and rugged looks of its popular stablemates, the Pulsar possesses clean and relatively unfussy lines not always associated with Japanese brands.

There's no escaping the Qashqai entirely, though, and it does take some of its design cues from the crossover, especially with its bold grille and front bumper arrangement. All models also get attractive alloy wheels while a sharply rising shoulder line, muscular wheel arches and rear roof spoiler add a sporty touch.

Two of the three turbocharged engines on offer, a 1.2 litre petrol and 1.5 litre diesel, are also lifted straight out of the Qashqai while a 1.6 litre petrol is tweaked to offer more power than the version in the crossover.

The 1.5 litre diesel I drove will pique the interest of business users thanks to its exceptional fuel economy, a claimed 78.5mpg on average, and road tax-exempt carbon emissions of just 94g/km.

While it may not be quite as perky to drive as the petrols it offers plenty of versatility, taking town traffic in its stride and proving surprisingly smooth and refined on the open road.

With the family market as its target, this motor is set up for comfort rather than excitement and the drive reflects that.

But while the Pulsar may not set the pulse racing, a combination of light but accurate steering, nimble handling and plenty of grip make it an easy car to live with from behind the wheel.

And this is further helped by the interior design, which echoes the straightforward, unfussy nature of the exterior.

Controls are logically laid out and, although slightly small, the 5.8-inch touchscreen interface on my range-topping Tekna trim car is clear and easy to use.

Tactile, soft touch surfaces are in frustratingly short supply, especially on the dashboard and control panel, but the use of contrasting gloss and matte finishes and the leather upholstery on this flagship model raise the perceived quality.

Everything certainly feels solid and durable enough to cope with the rigours of daily family life.

There is plenty of space for the family to get comfortable, too, as the Pulsar is one of the roomiest hatchbacks around.

Nissan have deliberately made the wheelbase - the distance between the front and rear wheels - as long as possible to maximise internal space and this really pays dividends for passengers in the back, with class-leading leg and headroom to stretch out in.

The boot is also spacious, at 385 litres, but loses some marks for practicality because of a rather high lip to lift heavy items over and the large step left in the floor when folding the split rear seats down.

This minor niggle is somewhat offset, though, by the generous equipment levels across the range.

This flagship model positively bristles with hi-tech kit such as automatic lights and wipers, keyless entry and ignition, 360-degree camera to help you park and an infotainment system with full smartphone integration and access to a variety of apps.

There's also a range of safety features over and above the usual airbags and stability control, such as emergency braking, moving object detection and lane departure and blind spot warning systems.

If you're after a comfortable, practical and easy-todrive family runaround, then the Pulsar is a commendable alternative to offerings from big-hitters like Ford, Vauxhall and VW.

If, however, you crave a bit more excitement, there is a Nismotuned nIssan with more the road in the most mileage, versatility of alone, over 100 to taxi firms across best-selling taxis. now, Green purchased 65 hot-hatch version on the way.

FAST FACTS | Model: Nissan Pulsar Tekna 1.5 dCi | Price: PS22,245 | Mechanical: 110ps, 1,461cc diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual transmission | Max speed: 118mph | 0-62mph: 11.5 seconds | Combined mpg: 78.5 | Insurance group: 12E | CO2 emissions: 94g/km | Bik rating: 16% | Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles

The Pulsar possesses clean and relatively unfussy lines not always associated with Japanese brands.

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Nissan Pulsar Tekna 1.5 dCi - it's an easy and economic family car to live with
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Nov 29, 2015
Words:816
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