NISSAN AIMS to “dominate” the family car market with its forthcoming Pulsar five-door hatchback but has admitted that it will take a full model generation to do so.
The Pulsar will take on the Focus, which was the UK’s second best-selling car of 2013 with 87,350 cars sold, as well as the Vauxhall Astra, the fourth most popular car with 68,070 sales and the Volkswagen Golf, the fifth best-seller with 64,951 cars sold.
“We have fairly ambitious targets for volume in Europe,” Dr Andy Palmer, Nissan’s chief planning officer, told Driving. “But we’ve been out of the pure C-segment market for a long time and most customers in Europe know us for SUVs. It’s going to take a full generation of having that car before you see us dominating the C-segment which, of course, is an ambition.”
Nissan’s last C-segment car was the Almera, which ceased production in 2006. Since then, Nissan has been concentrating on volume sales in the growing SUV market with the ever-popular Juke and Qashqai models.
Unlike SUVs such as the quirky Juke, family cars are traditionally more conservative in design. However, Palmer says that a lot of work has gone into trying to make the Pulsar visually arresting, particularly from the side. Nissan says that, like its crossover stablemates, the Pulsar is characterised by “bold wheel volumes, a tapered waistline and a flowing profile”.
“If you look generally at a lot of the competitors out there, you can see a lot of emotion front and rear but the sides are fairly monosyllabic,” said Palmer. “So what we did with the team is to try and bring much more sculpture into the shape of the side.”
The Pulsar will be slightly longer than the Focus at 4,385mm, as compared with 4,358mm, and will have the longest wheelbase (the distance between the centre of the front and rear wheels) in its class at 2,700mm. This, says Nissan, allows considerable legroom for rear passengers.
It will launch in autumn with two turbocharged engines: a 1.2-litre DIG-T petrol unit producing 113bhp and a 1.5-litre dCi diesel that generates 108bhp. A more powerful 187bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine will join the range early in 2015. Nissan claims all engines will have CO2 outputs below 95g/km, subject to homologation.
Pulsar will be available with XTronic automatic transmission as well as Nissan’s Safety Shield suite of technologies including Forward Emergency Braking, Moving Object Detection, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Warning.
Palmer also revealed that he recently signed off the Pulsar’s NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), which determines the overall quality of a vehicle when being driven. He has also ensured it shares the brand “DNA” of other Nissan vehicles.
“When you step from Qashqai to Pulsar, it feels like it’s in the same family,” he confirmed. “For a very practical car that you’re going to live with every day, it most definitely has the same mother and father. And that was important because you have people moving between these segments.”
The new Nissan Pulsar goes on sale this autumn and prices are expected to start at around £15,500.