The Pulsar was replaced by the awkward-looking and oddly-named Tiida in 2006 – and Nissan used Sex InThe City’s Kim Cattrall in TV ads to take attention away from the car’s drab styling.
But the public wasn’t buying it – or the car – and sales of Nissan’s sole contender in the most popular vehicle category in Australia plummeted. The new Pulsar goes on sale early next year with the same price it left with – and where it was 16 years ago – $19,990 plus on-road costs.
“At this price, the only inflation is in the tyres,” says William Peffer, the boss of Nissan Australia at a preview of the car ahead of the Sydney motor show, which opens this Friday.
Nissan dealers protested angrily when the company dropped the Pulsar name in favour of the global Tiida badge – and they’ve been vindicated. Nissan says 7 out 10 of car shoppers still recognise the Pulsar badge even though it hasn’t been on sale for six years.
“The Pulsar means a lot to this country,” says Peffer. “We made the right decision to return to the nameplate that for so long characterised and shaped Australia’s small car landscape.”
With the new Pulsar sedan arriving in showrooms next February – followed by the Pulsar hatch 100 days later – the company is gunning for the top-selling Mazda3 and the new generation Toyota Corolla, launched later this week. “We hope we will outsell Corolla,” says Peffer.
Buoyed by a recent bout of nostalgia, kicked off with the 50th anniversary of the Patrol 4WD, Nissan is also reviving the Pulsar SSS name for its hot hatch. The turbocharged 1.6-litre performance model (140kW/240Nm) will go on sale in the middle of next year priced about $35,000.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, grey nomads holding out for a diesel version of the new Patrol continue to be disappointed.
The new Patrol, which goes on sale in February priced between $82,000 and $114,000, will be powered exclusively by a petrol-guzzling 5.6-litre V8 – the same type used as the basis for Nissan’s V8 Supercar next year.
The old Patrol, which has been on sale for close to 15 years, will continue to sell alongside the new model as a diesel-only model.