Forget the baseball cap-on-backwards, tatt-toting, doof-doof music-crazy drongo. Believe it or not, there are people out there who want to drive a pumped-up little car without appearing to show off.
And have I got the package for you. The Nissan Pulsar SSS sedan ticks the boxes of a perky performer with restrained exterior and quality yet unremarkable interior; in effect a practical package with a stack of luggage space.
Following the comeback of the Pulsar SSS hot hatch, the SSS sedan heralds the introduction of the Pulsar Series II, with the car taking the place of the Pulsar Ti in the model line-up, enjoying the same specification but with the addition of the 1.6-litre DIG (direct injection gasoline) turbo engine, SSS body kit and rear park assist.
While the price of the outgoing Ti was $29,990 plus on-roads, the Pulsar SSS sedan is priced from $26,990 for the manual version and $29,290 for the automatic.
The Pulsar ST-L sedan gains satellite navigation with 5.8-inch touch screen, reversing camera with guidelines and Bluetooth audio streaming, all the while receiving a price reduction of $1200 from the manufacturer’s list price.
Additional value has also been added to the Pulsar hatch range, highlighted by a $3800 reduction in the MLP of the Pulsar SSS hatch. The ST-L gains rear park assist while also receiving a price cut of $1600. The Pulsar ST-S hatch has been discontinued.
Despite its own body kit, the Pulsar SSS sedan fails to mix it with warm-hatch rivals with their chiseled looks, flash colours and fancy wheels. Restraint is the catchword.
However, the Pulsar SSS sedan’s plain appearance sees it hold the surprise element at the traffic lights when, thanks to turbo power, it sees off more sporty looking machines.
The illusion is maintained on the inside with the most unspectacular decor consisting of hard plastic surfaces, subdued colour, flat seats lacking support and a generally drab ambience.
On the plus side, there is plenty of space for shoulders and knees and driver visibility is good. Then there is the cavernous boot, with 510 litres of room, a third more than the Pulsar hatchback. It manages that with a full-size spare aboard.
Pulsar SSS sedan has a 5.8-inch touch screen with satellite navigation and rear-view camera with guidelines, six-speaker sound system and Bluetooth connectivity.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Highlight of the new SSS is the engine, a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol pumping out 140 kW at 5600 rpm and 240 Nm 2000 rpm, which replaces the 1.8-litre motor of the displaced Ti.
This can either be connected to a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable automatic transmission for those prepared to pay almost $3000 more.
Six airbags are on board and there’s an extensive line-up of active safety technology – anti-locking brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, plus vehicle dynamic and traction control.
Those who like thunder with their lightning are destined to be disappointed with the Pulsar SSS. With 140 kW on tap, the car fairly skips along, but fails to exhibit aural attitude like some of its sportier rivals.
Softer suspension settings and light steering feel also add blandness to the driving experience but keep occupants in comfort even on bad surfaces some rivals would serve up to passengers.
The six-speed manual gearbox was not so accommodating, the driver having to contend with the two-three / five change-up misstep occurring a couple of times on test. Over the period, the sedan regularly exceeded eight litres per 100 kilometre fuel consumption over a mix of city and open-road driving.
It’s got a way to catch up to the Mazda3 SP25 sedan, while Subaru WRX sedan lovers need not apply. However, Pulsar SSS sedan buyers save a poultice on price and there’s always that element of surprise in performance off the mark.
AT A GLANCE
Pulsar ST sedan: $19,990 (manual), $22,290 (automatic)
Pulsar ST-L sedan: $22,490 (manual), $24,790 (automatic)
Pulsar SSS sedan: $26,990 (manual), $29,290 (automatic)
Pulsar ST hatch: $19,990 (manual), $22,240 (automatic)
Pulsar ST-L hatch: $20,990 (manual), $23,240 (automatic)
Pulsar SSS hatch: $25,990 (manual), $28,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Nissan dealer for drive-away prices.
17-inch wheels with full-size spare
ABS anti-locking brakes
Electronic brake-force distribution
Vehicle dynamics control
Front fog lights
Self-levelling low beam LED headlights
8-way power seats: driver and front passenger, driver with dual memory and electric lumbar support
Smart key and push start ignition
7-inch touch screen
Satellite navigation system
12 Harman Kardon speakers, including subwoofer
Pandora internet radio
Bluetooth wireless technology with audio streaming, voice recognition
EyeSight driver assist system
Adaptive cruise control
(1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine)
Capacity: 1618 cc
Configuration: In-line four-cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, turbocharged direct injection
Bore and stroke: 79.7 mm x 81.1 mm
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 5600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 240 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Emission rating: Euro 5
Drivetrain: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4615 mm
Width: 1760 mm
Height: 1495 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Track: 1530 mm (front/rear)
Ground clearance: 160 mm
Tare mass: 1258 kg
Towing capacity: 1100 kg (braked) / 750 kg (unbraked)
Seating capacity: 5
Cargo capacity 510 litres
Fuel Tank Capacity: 52 litres
Turning circle: 10.7 m
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Suspension: McPherson struts, stabiliser bar (front); Torsion beam, stabiliser bar (rear)
Brakes: Discs. ABS anti-skid brake system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Vehicle Dynamics Control. Traction Control
Steering: Electric power assisted rack and pinion
Wheels / tyres: Alloy 17in x 6.5J / 205/50 R17 tyres. Full-size steel spare
Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: N/A
Fuel type: 95 RON unleaded
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 7.8 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 187 g / km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 6.5 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 6.5 / 10
Three years / 100,000 kilometres