Chris Miller road tests and review the 2014 Nissan Pulsar SSS
Anyone over the age of thirty will remember the Nissan Pulsar SSS.
Back in the day the SSS nameplate was a common sight on Australian roads…the car itself was never really a benchmark for performance, but added lots of sporty looking equipment and was marginally faster than the garden variety Pulsars.
In 2014 not a lot has changed although the new Nissan Pulsar SSS has more performance credentials than the older model, and is considerably more potent than the current lower grade Pulsars.
As you’d expect there is a body kit and lots of bits and pieces to make it look faster, and to be honest it’s a car that can be quite good fun.
Powered by a turbo charged 1.6 litre four-cylinder it develops a healthy 140kW and 240Nm, which makes for a peppy performer, even though the Pulsar tips the scales at a portly 1755kg.
The engine is smooth all the way to red line and surprisingly economical too; our average fuel use over a week came back at a respectable 8.6 litres per 100km, albeit running exclusively on premium unleaded. The six-speed manual has a nice easy shift action and the clutch was very light making for easy gear changes.
With the SSS’s sporting intent, the manual version seems to be the way to go – it’ll save you $2,600 over the optional CVT auto too, with prices kicking off for the manual at $29,790 before on road costs. A 3 year/100,000km warranty and Nissan’s fixed price servicing schedule is standard.
On the road the Pulsar is very predictable with no nasty surprises when it comes to handling. The ride is surprisingly smooth given the low profile 205/50 tyres on 17-inch rims, although severe potholes and the like make their presence felt in the cabin.
The steering is light but communicates well and the little Pulsar does a respectable job through the bends.
Inside it’s all about comfort. The leather seats are supportive and very comfortable although they don’t push back quite as far as I would have liked. Really tall folk may find this a problem, but for average sized people it won’t be an issue.
Rear leg room is astonishing with seemingly more space in the back than much larger cars, the boot will also swallow a set of golf clubs with ease. The exterior distinguishes itself from the standard Pulsar with exclusive badging, 17 inch alloys and a body kit that looks a like a bit of an afterthought. It’s not offensive by any means, just a little tacky.
The driving position is a little taller than you might expect but provides excellent all round visibility with rear vision aided by a standard reversing camera.
The multi function steering wheel is logical and easy to use and the dash architecture is not only well designed with everything falling easily to hand, but looks great too. A big 5.8-inch central colour screen dominates the dashboard and makes for easy use of the standard sat-nav and good sounding 6-speaker audio system.
The Thai built Pulsar’s build quality couldn’t be faulted and the materials used are high quality.
Sitting at the top of the Pulsar range, the SSS isn’t left wanting for equipment. Standard fare includes auto xenon headlights, sat-nav, Bluetooth phone & audio streaming, dual zone climate control and push button start with keyless entry.
Safety systems include driver, passenger and side curtain air-bags, stability control, traction control and anti lock brakes with brake force distribution and brake assist. The Pulsar SSS has a five star ANCAP safety rating.
The great thing about the Pulsar SSS is its functionality. It has a stack of room inside, is easy to park and very easy to potter around town in, but if the mood strikes for a bit of fun the Pulsar SSS will deliver there too. It’s great fun to blast away from the lights, entertaining on a winding mountain road and has enough power in reserve for effortless high-speed overtaking.
It’s not in the same league as VW’s Golf GTI or the Renault Megane, but is also considerably cheaper.
It does take the fight fair and square to cars like the Hyundai Veloster, Kia Koup Turbo and even the base model Toyota 86 GT, but those cars just don’t provide the functionality of the Pulsar.
Sure the others, particularly the Toyota 86, are more focused when it comes to spirited driving, but the all round Pulsar SSS package makes it a winner for those who like to have their cake and eat it too.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 1.6 litre turbo petrol developing 140kW and 240Nm
Transmission: Six-Speed manual or CVT Automatic
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $29,790