Nissan Pulsar / Tiida


Debut: 2014 / 2011
Maker: Nissan
Predecessor: Tiida / Versa (2005)



 Published on 8 Sep 2014 All rights reserved. 


To older car enthusiasts like us, Pulsar should not be a strange name. Nissan used the label during the 1980s and 1990s to represent its C-segment hatchbacks. Somehow, it was then replaced by Almera in Europe and Tiida in Asia. Neither was competitive enough to live in our memory. The Almera was discontinued in around 2006, then Nissan Europe simply skipped conventional hatchback sector and switched to small SUVs (Qashqai and Juke, which were huge successes but another story that I hate to talk). So why is Nissan bringing back Pulsar now? If counting on European sales alone it may not be justified to do so. The answer lies in China. In 2011, Nissan developed the second generation Tiida primarily for the Chinese market. Thanks to its high practicality and affordable prices, it met the requirements of Chinese motorists well thus was quite popular there. Then sales expanded gradually to Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, the Middle East and now finally Europe. Some markets called it Tiida and some called it Pulsar, depending on which nameplate was more popular before. Among them, only the European version gets a significant facelift to differ from the big-selling Chinese car.

The European Pulsar differs from Tiida by mainly the design of nose and tail. It might be a bit more interesting – or less boring – to look, but no one would call it stylish. Just as too many Nissan designs today, it tries hard to be unoffending rather than to impress. The car is pretty tall at 1520 mm, so standing beside a Volkswagen Golf (1452 mm tall) it appears hardly athletic. This is not helped by an unusually long wheelbase of 2700 mm.



That wheelbase should imply a big-car platform sitting underneath, but contrary to believe it is actually built on the Renault-Nissan group V platform (V for Versatile), which is extensively used by B-segment small cars like March, Note and Sunny/Versa. Predictably, the combination of extra-long wheelbase and a simple torsion-beam suspension results in enormous cabin space. Nissan claims a class-leading rear legroom of 692 mm, which beats many D- and even E-segment saloons. Think about the accommodation of Ford Mondeo in a compact family hatch package.

Unfortunately, the cabin of Pulsar is not improved from the now outdated Chinese Tiida. In recent years Nissan has been seriously criticized by us for half-hearted interior design and build quality. These criticisms continue in the Pulsar. It looks dull and low rent. Plastic quality and switchgear precision fall short of European standards. Although ergonomics and visibility are good and electronic/safety features are up to date, it lacks the desirability of most European rivals. The Korean Hyundai i30 and Kia Cee’d can also beat it easily in terms of interior design and richness.



A similar story can be told for its performance and chassis. Perhaps in the anticipation of low sales volume, only 1 petrol and 1 diesel engine are offered. Renault’s 115 hp 1.2 TCe 4-cylinder turbo engine is rebranded as 1.2 DIG-T (stands for direct injection gasoline turbo, obviously) in Nissan’s language. It is pretty refined, but brisk it is not, blame to the economy-biased long gearing. The 110 hp Renault 1.5dCi turbo diesel is equally marginal to pull the C-segment car. It is also noisier, and the extra weight it puts at the nose has noticeable effect on handling.

Neither engine versions could be described as fun to drive. Just as many Nissans, the Pulsar is engineered to be safe, easy to drive, comfortable and no more. Its light steering communicates little with the driver. Its suspension doesn’t deliver the crisped response and agile handling of Golf, Focus, Leon, i30, Cee’d etc. When it comes to ultimate ride comfort, the multi-link camp rivals still have an upper hand. NVH suppression around the cabin is pretty good though, so the only major complaint is the diesel engine noise.

Perhaps we should not have too much expectation on a half-hearted design like this one. It is built by a company whose philosophy – at least since Carlos Ghosn took the helm – promotes mediocre engineering to achieve the highest profit margin instead of striving to build the best cars. It is practically a 3-year-old design destined to China, happens to find resurging opportunities in the recovering European market. Sorry, the actual car isn’t as bad as this might sound if you use it just as most motorists do, but I really hate the attitude running behind it. Don’t think we are fool, okay?
Verdict: 
 Published on 8 Sep 2014 All rights reserved. 
Tiida


The Chinese Tiida has been around since 2011. Nissan does not offer the car in its home market, where traditional C-segment has been in sharp decline over the last decade. The Tiida was quite well received in China, capturing sales of 144,000 units in 2012 and 129,000 units in 2013, thus is the company's best seller in China. It could have been better if not because of the anti-Japanese atmosphere aroused by political issues. Chinese car magazines were generally impressed with the car’s spaciousness and value for money, if not so much with its driving dynamics.

The Chinese Tiida offers the choice of HR16DE and MR16DDT engines, both are Nissan’s own designs. The naturally aspirated 1.6 gets dual-VVT and twin-injectors to produce a respectable 126 hp, but it doesn’t feel as powerful on the road. The 1.6-liter direct injection turbo engine comes straight from Juke (in higher tune it is also used by Renault Clio RS). Producing 190 hp it should transform the Tiida into a hot hatch. Unfortunately, the rest of the car is unaltered, thus it is only quick on straight line and struggles in corners. Both engines can mate to manual gearbox or Xtronic CVT.

Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Pulsar 1.2 DIG-T
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4387 / 1768 / 1520 mm
2700 mm
Inline-4
1197 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
Turbo
DI
115 hp
140 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
205/50R17
1258 kg
118 mph (c)
10.1 (c)
-
Pulsar 1.5dCi
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4387 / 1768 / 1520 mm
2700 mm
Inline-4 diesel
1461 cc
SOHC 8 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
110 hp
192 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
205/50R17
1307 kg
118 mph (c)
10.8 (c) / 10.9*
35.5*



























Performance tested by: *Autocar





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Tiida 1.6
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4295 / 1760 / 1520 mm
2700 mm
Inline-4
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
126 hp
114 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
195/60R16
1211 kg
109 mph (c)
11.0 (c)
-
Tiida 1.6 turbo
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4295 / 1760 / 1520 mm
2700 mm
Inline-4
1618 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
190 hp
177 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
205/50R17
1321 kg
137 mph (c)
7.7 (c)
-



























Performance tested by: -





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