Given how well the larger Nissan Qashqai tows, we’re a little disappointed with the Nissan Pulsar.
In the lane-change test in particular, the Pulsar fell short of the standard set by its big brother, and by the best cars in the lightest weight class. The caravan became so wayward that our driver aborted the test after the second of three runs. The other judges also found the Pulsar less secure than the best small tow cars, with more steering corrections needed when buffeted by a crosswind.
The 1.5-litre diesel engine has its work cut out when towing. Pulling from 30-60mph took 21 seconds. That’s almost nine seconds longer than the Skoda Octavia.
The Pulsar does have its strengths, though. The brakes stopped car and caravan well, with plenty of bite and control. In the hill-start test, the Pulsar also performed respectably. The handbrake held without needing excessive force, and the Nissan pulled over the hill without too much protest. There was a slight smell from the clutch after reversing, however.
In day-to-day driving, the Pulsar is competent rather than fun. The cabin feels well screwed together and there’s a lot of passenger space.
The boot isn’t as large as the Skoda Octavia’s, but our practicality test team still found room for almost every item of holiday luggage. The reversing camera – very useful for hitching up – earned the Pulsar more marks.
Running costs should be affordable, thanks to the 1.5-litre diesel’s 78.5mpg on the combined cycle, although we’d be impressed if any owner matches that in real-world driving.