Nissan Pulsar (2013-2018) Review

It's spacious, efficient and well-equipped, but the Nissan Pulsar doesn't stand out

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Spacious interior
  • Extremely low used prices
  • Good level of standard equipment
  • Newer models lose value quickly
  • Anonymous styling
  • Dull to drive
Nissan Pulsar prices from £8,058.
Finance from £172.44 / month.

The family hatchback market is brimming with great cars, from the Ford Focus to the VW Golf, the SEAT Leon to the Vauxhall Astra, the Skoda Octavia to the Mazda 3 – and that’s just six.

This means that it's easy to overlook cars such as the Nissan Pulsar, which aren't bad by any means but just don't stand out. As a new car, that is.

Since new models aren't that desirable when it comes time to sell, the used prices tumble dramatically after a few years, meaning you can get a nearly-new model for many, many thousands less than the list price.

Find a good Nissan Pulsar deal then and it does make a lot of sense as an affordable practical family car. That's mainly down to its spacious interior which is close to - if not quite up with - the largest rivals such as the Skoda Octavia. There’s easily enough room here for three adults to sit comfortably, which is more than you can say of the Ford Focus.

If you’re wondering whether the boot is tiny as a consequence, it isn’t. In fact, it’s bigger than a Golf’s. The Pulsar is also fitted with efficient engines. There aren’t many to choose from but the lowest powered petrol will do up to 56.6mpg and the diesel up to 78.5mpg, which isn't bad for a car capable of carrying five adults in total comfort.

The Pulsar is also spectacular value for money, if you can track down nearly-new models. Here you’ll find a level of safety equipment worthy of the car’s five-star Euro NCAP rating plus loads of upmarket features to simplify the driving process - even in entry-level models. While new there was quite a step up in price to the next model up, since the Pulsar is no longer available new, all second-hand versions should offer strong value, so choose the model that gives you the kit you want for a price you can afford.

If you’re looking for driving thrills, though, look elsewhere; the Ford Focus, for example. The Pulsar is safe and predictable to drive but there’s little sense of connection with the front tyres through the steering wheel and the car leans heavily in corners. It’s comfortable, though, with the soft suspension smoothing out most imperfections. As a result, if comfort is top of your list, the Pulsar's space and smooth suspension are two big plus points that make it worth considering. Especially if you the most spacious car for your money.

Key facts

Warranty 3 years
Boot size 385 litres
Width 1768mm
Length 4387mm
Height 1520mm
Tax (min to max) £0 to £130

Best Nissan Pulsar for...

Best for Economy – Nissan Pulsar 1.5 dCi Visia

No surprises for guessing the most economical Pulsar is the diesel, with an official fuel economy figure of 78.5mpg

Best for Families – Nissan Pulsar 1.5 dCi N-Connecta

With its ‘around-view’ monitor and a sat nav, N-Connecta trim was made for safety-conscious families on the go. Diesel offers the best fuel economy.

Best for Performance – Nissan Pulsar 1.6 DiG-T 190 Acenta

At 7.7 seconds this Pulsar is three seconds faster from 0-62mph than the next fastest version, the 1.2 DiG-T 115. It’s the performance choice but don’t expect performance car handling. Tekna brings two-tone 18in alloys and a stack of safety technology.

One to Avoid – Nissan Pulsar 1.6 DiG-T 190 Tekna

The most expensive version of a model is rarely the best buy, and this top-spec Pulsar is no exception. It’ll lose money hand over fist. It’s not as if, with all that performance, it’s any real fun to drive, either.


  • July 2014 Nissan Pulsar is launched.
  • March 2015 The 1.6 DiG-T petrol engine joins the range in March
  • Summer 2015 The Pulsar is updated to make it feel more agile in corners
  • 2016 Pulsars built May 2014 to December 2015 recalled for faulty headlight auto levelling system. 
  • 2016 N-tec trim replaced by n-connecta

Understanding Nissan Pulsar names

Engine DiG-T 115

Petrol engines are badged DiG-T. The power of each engine is shown in horsepower, which can also be written as PS. The diesel is badged dCi.

Trim level N-Connecta

The trim levels dictate the amount of standard equipment that you get. In Nissan-speak, Visia is the basic trim, Acenta is the next one up, N-Connecta is the ‘connected’ one with a sat nav and Tekna is the one brimming with technology.

Gearbox Xtronic

The automatic gearbox is called Xtronic

Nissan Pulsar Engines

DiG-T 115, DiG-T 190, dCi 110

Nissan's small, highly efficient petrol and diesel engines are perfect for the undemanding Pulsar, a car with its sights on easy driving qualities and low running costs. The most popular engine is the 1.2 DiG-T 115 petrol. It’s reasonably quick but very economical, while road tax is just £30. However, as with the other engines in the line-up, those running costs rise slightly on high-spec versions fitted with larger wheels. The optional Xtronic automatic gearbox doesn’t affect economy much but does hit performance – hard. It’s also noisier, so take a test drive to see how you get on with it.
Staying with the petrols, the 1.6 DiG-T 190 is the performance engine in the Pulsar range. Its 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds is almost the same as a Peugeot 308 GT’s. It’s economical, too, but road tax rises to £130.
If economy is your top priority, the 1.5 dCi 110 diesel is the engine for you. It’s a little gruff but settles to a relaxed cruise on the motorway, its natural habitat. Depending on wheel size it can achieve a claimed 78.5mpg. Regardless of wheel size, road tax is zero.





0 - 60

top speed



54.3 - 56.5mpg



115 - 118mph



47.9 - 49.5mpg






74.3 - 78.5mpg




Nissan Pulsar Trims

Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta, Tekna

Basic Visia trim packs in all the safety essentials sufficient to secure the Pulsar a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. Convenience features include all-round electric windows, an adjustable steering wheel, split-fold rear seats and air-conditioning. However, it rides on plain steel wheels rather than alloys.
With Acenta the air-con is now dual zone, the wheels are two-tone alloy, the steering wheel is leather covered, there’s a front centre armrest, a push-start button… The list goes on. It feels and looks a lot smarter. However, the 1.2 DiG-T 115 Acenta is a whopping £4000 more than the Visia version.
N-Connecta adds more convenience and luxury features including a sat nav, a DAB digital radio and even a colour reversing camera. It looks even smarter but now the price is around £21,000.
Tekna is a moving showcase for Nissan’s latest safety technologies including Safety Shield and Around View Monitor. The price peaks at around £23,000 for the 1.6 DiG-T 190 version, which has some additional sporty touches.

Nissan Pulsar Reliability and warranty

The Nissan Pulsar’s warranty lasts for three years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Like the car, it’s pretty standard. Rival model the Hyundai i30 has a five-year warranty and the Kia Cee’d, an industry-leading seven years’ cover. Does it mean the Pulsar is less reliable than those cars? Not necessarily. These days, few new cars are badly built. The Pulsar is too new to have attracted any serious reliability data but it shares a lot of parts with the Nissan Qashqai, itself a very reliable car. In any case, the popularity of PCP finance deals with annual mileages typically limited to 10,000 miles, means most Pulsar owners will never come close to doing 60,000 miles in three years. 

Used Nissan Pulsar

However, Within just one year, the value of the Pulsar takes a steep tumble to find their natural level, making a year-old Pulsar a much better buy. This is because more expensive versions in particular, haven’t the image or appeal to sustain their high prices for long, unlike, for example, the much more desirable VW Golf. At the other end of the trim scale, Visia is actually not that appealing, so any Pulsar in that trim will also struggle to hold its price. Acenta really is the sweet spot in the range: neither too expensive nor too pared back to lose as much money as the Tekna or N-Connecta. Diesels are not quite the used car heroes they once were. Buyers know that if they don’t do much mileage, an economical petrol engine is the better buy. For this reason, we believe a Pulsar 1.2 DiG-T 115 Acenta in a bright colour will hold its value as well as the more expensive diesel.


List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for performance







Nissan Pulsar 1.6 DiG-T 190 Acenta







Best for families







Nissan Pulsar 1.5 dCi N-Connecta







Best for economy







Nissan Pulsar 1.5 dCi Visia