Used Car Advice: 2017 Nissan Pulsar

This big, spacious, and economical hatchback is still good at giving brand new budget cars a run for the money

Photos: Leow Ju-Len


Remember when the Nissan Pulsar was everywhere? That means you’re of a certain ‘vintage’. The model name has actually made sporadic appearances in Singapore over the last two decades after its 80s and 90s heyday, but it’s actually still a continuing model in many parts of the world. Nissan tried to revive the Pulsar here in 2017 with the introduction of a spacious, 1.2-litre turbo engined hatchback version 2017 and while it didn’t stay on the showroom floor for very long it’s still a very viable commuter and appliance car. 

What you’re getting with the 2017 Nissan Pulsar is plenty of space for the money. It’s a very well-packaged hatchback with a roomy interior and a class-leading 385 litres of boot space. The folding rear bench expands it to 1,395 litres of load carrying capacity.

They are also well-equipped for safe driving, with electronic stability control (ESC) and a commendable six airbags fitted as standard equipment. It’s one of the earliest mainstream cars to be fitted with a whole suite of active safety features including blind spot and lane departure warnings. Build quality is high too, with solidly closing doors and tough, smooth paintwork. Cabin materials were obviously specified to a tight budget though, so while they are of decent quality no one is going to mistake this for a luxury car.

The 1.2-litre turbo engine develops a decent 115 horsepower, but it’s a car designed for commuting and not sporty driving so the transmission is by way of a CVT and acceleration is gradual rather than rapid. This does mean that it’s a pretty safe and rather predictable car to drive, making it a good choice for a first car over many other new budget cars currently on offer.

It’s pretty frugal on fuel, and with an official fuel efficiency rating of 5.1l/100km it’s a car that’s slightly bigger and yet more economical than a Honda Jazz from the same period.

Despite it being officially available in Singapore for only one year, there are still many of them on the used car market with low mileage and in reasonably good condition.

What to Look For: 

They are pretty simple but well-packaged cars that should offer many years of decent service. Even the oldest versions are only about four years old, and practically all Pulsars are priced under S$60k at the moment. The government’s big announcement on planning to ‘phase out’ petrol-only vehicles may have spooked many people out of considering an all-petrol car, but the Pulsar is pretty frugal on fuel.

Consider this: The new Nissan Note E-Power hybrid hatchback has a rated fuel economy of 4.6l/100km and a power output of 115 horsepower. The Pulsar has the same power output and a fuel economy that’s just 0.5l/100km worse.

You could get a slightly smaller, used Suzuki Swift, or a new Mitsubishi Attrage for similar money, but neither are as large as the Pulsar.

As with all used cars, tyres and perishable parts like wiper blades need to be checked to see if the seller actually looks after the vehicle or just aims to drive it until it falls apart. Mechanically, the Pulsar is a well-built vehicle that continues the tradition of being a reliable vehicle that has been with the nameplate since the 1980s.

Remember that the last Pulsar failed to take off in a big way here simply because the market was very crowded with cars in this segment during its time in the showroom, rather than it being a poor choice of a vehicle. The government may be all about electric mobility now, but there’s plenty of dependability left in an economical petrol engined car yet. 

2017 Nissan Pulsar 1.2 DIG-T

Engine1,197cc, inline-four, turbocharged
Power115hp at 5200rpm
Torque165Nm at 1750rpm
0-100km/h12.7 seconds
Fuel Efficiency5.1L/100km
Years Produced2017 – 2017

about the author

Lionel Kong
An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.