During the latter stages of the life of its ill-fated Tiida, Nissan Australia conducted research into the significance of model names to potential buyers. While it came as no surprise that the Pulsar name had been greatly missed, what did raise eyebrows was the fact that the SSS name rated even more highly than that of Pulsar.
That research played a large part in Nissan Australia’s decision to reinstate the SSS model as a member of its just launched 2013 Pulsar hatch range.
Now, much to the delight of its fans, the Pulsar SSS is back, this time with a 1.6-litre turbocharged, DiG Turbo (Direct Injection Gasoline) engine pushing out 140 kW of power, and 240 Nm at just 2000 revs.
To distinguish itself from the standard Pulsar, the SSS gets a sportier look with front, side and rear skirts, a modest rear spoiler, front foglamps, LED rear lights and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The 1.6-litre engine comes with a single scroll turbocharger that sends the SSS sharply off the mark with almost no lag. It’s a punchy unit that’s at its best from 2000 rpm upwards. While the engine note can’t match that of its hotter rivals it still adds a bit of character to the car.
We reviewed both the six-speed manual and CVT variants; the manual is light and smooth with plenty of grunt even in sixth gear for safe overtaking. While the manual is still our transmission of choice the addition of steering column mounted paddle shifts to the CVT makes it almost as much satisfying, although it does add $2500 to the price.
Suspension is firmer than in the other variants without compromising ride comfort while handling and cornering on the wet roads that we encountered were safe with only slight body roll.
There’s excellent interior space in all Pulsar models with well-sized seats and although the SSS does get some extra bolstering it’s not the hip-hugging compression of many similar cars. Pulsar also ticks another of our boxes in that there’s excellent visibility with a large front and rear windscreens and a low beltline.
Affordability is the name of the game in the new Nissan Australia lineup and the Pulsar SSS provides plenty of driving excitement at a modest outlay.