Nissan hopes its new Pulsar family hatchback will go supernova

Andy Palmer, executive vice president and chief planning officer of Nissan. The new Pulsar family hatchback is expected to hit the Irish market in early 2015.  Photograph: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

Andy Palmer, executive vice president and chief planning officer of Nissan. The new Pulsar family hatchback is expected to hit the Irish market in early 2015. Photograph: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 06:00

Nissan will re-enter the family hatchback segment this year with a new model likely to be called the Pulsar. Due to be officially introduced at the Paris motor show in the autumn, it will go on sale in Ireland early in 2015.

It has been several years since Nissan had a competitive car in the family hatchback market, its last proper family car being the Almera. The Pulsar is due to replace both the Almera and the outgoing Tiida, a smaller car that never made the impact intended.

Few details of the new car are available but it is expected that its engines will come from Nissan’s mainstream 1.2 petrol and 1.5 diesel range. Industry sources also suggest there will be a hot hatchback “Nismo” version with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 212-horsepower output.

The Almera disappeared from the motoring landscape eight years ago, with Nissan deciding to concentrate on crossover niche models, such as the Qashqai and the Juke. It also stopped producing the Primera, with which it enjoyed considerable success in Ireland.

Nissan believes it can offer substantial competition to the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus. However, it will not re-enter the bigger D segment where names like the Passat and Mondeo rule the roost, at least for the foreseeable future.

The Pulsar has been kept under close wraps but it is expected the design will attempt to be as bold as that of the Qashqai and the Juke. One senior Nissan executive, Andy Palmer, has already said the company does not expect everyone to like the car. “We know not everyone will love it,” he said, indicating that the move back into the C-segment will confront the perceived conservatism of VW and Ford competitors.

There was some speculation that Nissan would revive the Almera name or perhaps the Sunny name, but it seems it has opted for Pulsar. That name has been used by the company since the late 1970s and has continued in use in Asia and Australia ever since.