The Nissan Pulsar is a compact car/small family car produced by the Japanese automaker Nissan since 1978 when it debuted as a subcompact car. It was originally conceived as a replacement for Nissan's first front-wheel drive platform, the Nissan Cherry family (models E10 and F10). So the Pulsar was actually the third-generation FF layout Nissan. All Pulsar models were produced in a front-wheel drive configuration, though from the 1980s, Nissan did offer four-wheel drive models, and in the early 1990s, the four-wheel drive turbocharged Nissan Pulsar GTI-R. Some models were sold as Nissan Sunny and Nissan Almera.
The Pulsar was first released in 1978 and was a subcompact car as was the Nissan Cherry it replaced. The N10 series Pulsar was exported to Australia with the Datsun Pulsar name. This model was known as the Datsun Cherry or Datsun 100A/120A/130A/140A/150A in Europe and the Datsun 310 in the U.S.. In Canada, the Datsun 310 was available with "Pulsar" striping on the rear quarters. The Nissan Langley, from 1980, was a more upmarket Pulsar.
The Pulsar was available as a three or five-door hatchback, four-door sedan, a two or four-door van or station wagon, a two-door fastback with wraparound rear window, and a short-lived four-door fastback.
A mid-term facelift brought new E-series engines for 1981 and 1982.
A more angular version was announced in mid-1982. This model was also built in Italy by Alfa Romeo as the Arna (named after the joint venture which created it, Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli), using Alfa Romeo engines. Confusingly, the Italian models were also sold with Nissan badges, in Japan as the Nissan Pulsar Milano and in Europe as the Nissan Cherry Europe. At Alfa Romeo, the Arna was meant to replace lesser versions of the popular Alfasud, but never had the Italian car's appeal. The Cherry Europe also failed spectacularly in its home market - lacking the build quality and reliability of its Japanese built sister car, yet at the same time managing to inherit the typical 1980s Alfa vulnerability to body corrosion.
By this time, Nissan had more or less standardized its naming policy worldwide, so as a Nissan it tended, with few exceptions, to be known as a Pulsar.
Those exceptions included related models in the Japanese home market. The Nissan Langley was a Pulsar with more powerful engines and four headlights. The Nissan Liberta Villa was a four-door version. The Nissan Pulsar EXA was a two-door coupé version with pop-up headlights. European markets continued with the Cherry name (as opposed to "Cherry Europe" for Alfa-built models).
The Pulsar EXA was known in North America as the Pulsar NX and shared many of its parts with the Nissan Sentra. This version of the Pulsar NX was available from 1983 to 1986 and came with either the fuel injected turbocharged E15ET engine or the carbureted naturally-aspirated E16S engine. The Langley was built in Australia as the Nissan Pulsar, while the more standard Pulsar appeared there as the Holden Astra. The three-door and five-door hatchback versions of the Pulsar were also made available, replacing the old Datsun 310 hatchbacks, but they proved to be unpopular and they were withdrawn from Nissan's North American lineup after one year. The five-door hatchback remained in Australia until 1987, where it was known as the Pulsar ET Turbo and featured the E15ET engine.
Pulsar EXA Convertible - This limited edition model was designed to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Nissan Cherry dealerships. It was launched in May, 1985, and just 100 vehicles were made available for the whole of Japan. The vehicle sports numerous special accessories, including a soft top made from a special insulating material to keep out the rain and heat, and a rear window made from organic glass to ensure high visibility.
In 1986, Nissan's design chief refused to follow the smoother, aerodynamic look of other cars. A squarer Pulsar (N13 series) was released as a result; innovations included a four-wheel drive model. The Pulsar–Astra relationship continued in Australia, with the Langley sold as the Pulsar there and the four-door sedan version of the Nissan called the Pulsar Vector. The Langley also continued sales in Japan as a "Japanese-spec" Pulsar with a more powerful DOHC 1.8 L engine as opposed to its SOHC counterpart in Australia. The N13 Langley featured other options such as a limited-slip differential, luxurious interior and the much sought-after black headlights, center grille and round Skyline-style taillights. In countries such as New Zealand, the Sunny and Pulsar were combined into a single model, the Nissan Sentra — which differed (apart from the station wagon) from the models sold under the same name in the United States.
Versions in the United Kingdom were:
- 1.3 L (57 kW@5000rpm)
- 1.3 LS (57 kW@5000rpm)
- 1.3 GS (57 kW@5000rpm)
- 1.3 LX (59 kW@5150rpm)
- 1.4 LS (64 kW@5000rpm)
- 1.4 GS (64 kW@5000rpm)
- 1.6 LX (69 kW@4800rpm)
- 1.6 SLX (75 kW@5300rpm)
- 1.6 GSX (86 kW@5800rpm)
- 1.8 ZX (98 kW@5000rpm)
Engines offered in the Australian built version were:
- 1.6L GM Family II 16LF, 1597cc, single point TBI, SOHC, 56kW (75hp)@5600rpm, 125N·m (92lb·ft)@3600rpm
- 1.8L GM Family II 18LE, 1796cc, multi point EFI, SOHC, 79kW (106hp)@5600rpm, 151N·m (111lb·ft)@3600rpm
- 1.8L GM Family II 18LE, 1796cc, multi point EFI, SOHC, 84kW (113hp)@5600rpm, 162N·m (119lb·ft)@3600rpm (SVD)
Saloon models were badged as Pulsar; this was the basis for the badge-engineered Holden Astra.
In Europe, it was sold as the Nissan Sunny, unrelated, however, to the Sunny sold in Asia. In Malaysia, it was sold as the Nissan Sentra, differ from the Nissan Sentra sold in the America and visually similar to the European Nissan Sunny. In South Africa it was sold as the Nissan Sabre. There were three and five-door hatchbacks and a four-door sedan.
The EXA was spun off as its own model, with an innovative modular rear end: customers could opt for a coupé, hatchback or an open-top car depending on what they put on. This version was actually based on the North American B12 "Sentra" chassis, and was equipped with the 1.8L CA18DE engine (93 kW @ 6400 rpm, 156N·m (115lb·ft) @ 4800 rpm), as found in the S13 Nissan Silvia. This version of the EXA was available in North America under the name Pulsar NX and was sold from 1987 to 1990.
The North American Pulsar NX was offered in two distinct trim levels, the economical XE and the performance oriented SE.
Engines offered in the North American Pulsar NX:
- 1.6L E16i, 1597cc, single point TBI, SOHC
- 1.6L CA16DE, 1597cc, multi point EFI, DOHC
- 1.6L E16i, 1597cc, single point TBI, SOHC
- 1.8L CA18DE, 1809cc, multi point EFI, DOHC
- 1.6L GA16i, 1597cc, single point TBI, SOHC
- 1.8L CA18DE, 1809cc, multi point EFI, DOHC
- 1.6L GA16i, 1597cc, single point TBI, SOHC
The EXA/Pulsar NX was replaced in 1991 with the Nissan NX coupe.
In 1990, the N14 model finally saw Nissan turn to the rounded look. Holden decided not to manufacture a competitor until the late 1990s with the new Astra . It continued to be offered in New Zealand as the Sentra. In Europe, the Sunny name continued, applied to three, four and five-door models, alongside the Sunny California station wagon from Japan (called either the Sunny Estate or Sunny Traveller). The Langley and Liberta Villa models were not offered. There was no N14 Pulsar offered in the US either; Instead, the US Pulsar evolved into what was known as the NX1600 with the GA16DE engine, the SR18DE or the NX2000 with the SR20DE engine and rear disc brakes. 1994 was the last year for the N chassis in the US.
This generation was badged as the Nissan Sabre (hatch back) and Sentra(4 door saloon) in South Africa, and the Nissan Sunny in Europe. The Pulsar was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1991, which it shared with the Honda NSX - the only time the award was shared by two different cars.
The N14 series also saw the introduction of the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R (labelled Sunny GTI-R in Europe). This was a homologation variant produced to satisfy the necessary WRC rules at that time. It featured a turbocharged SR20DET engine producing 169kW (230hp JIS) of power, as well as the ATTESA all-wheel drive system.
The GTI-R, which was identified as an RNN14 model, was entered by Nissan into the World Rally Championship. However, it did not prove to be very competitive, and many believe it was hampered by a few technical problems. These included excessive weight over the front wheels which caused a deficiency in handling where the car could understeer excessively and the location of the turbocharger's intercooler unit atop the engine which caused inefficiency in the induction system. Many also theorised that the cars were running with a manufacturer of tyres that were not up to scratch with the competition at that time. The GTI-R raced under the Nissan Motorsport Europe banner. It was more competitive in the hands of privateers, winning the Group N class of the World Championship in the hands of Grégoire de Mévius. It also proved popular in the European Rallycross Championship.
In 1995, the N15 Pulsar was launched and sold in Europe as the Nissan Almera. The New Zealand Nissan Sentra changed name to Pulsar after the Nissan assembly plant in Wiri, Auckland closed down in 1998, in favour of imports from Japan. Again, four and five-door models were offered, with three door models being available in Europe only, and not Australia and New Zealand. The Australasian versions included the LX, SLX, Q and SSS variants. New Zealand specific versions included the S and SE variant. The SSS model (5 door hatch only) featured the SR20DE engine featuring 105kW (141hp)/179 Nm. The station wagon continued to be from the Sunny, later spun off in Japan into the Nissan Wingroad.
In Japan, the N15 was available under numerous nameplates. These included:
Pulsar Serie Rezzo 3 door hatch (GA15DE engine, base JDM Pulsar, indicative features include absent rear high stop lamp and front fascia black slatted spotlight covers until 1998 facelift).
Lucino BB 3 door hatch (GA15DE engine, exactly same as Pulsar Rezzo, except for rear indicator lense covers being clear coloured).
Pulsar Serie X1 3 door hatch and 4 door sedan (GA15DE engine, indicative features included high stop lamp incorporated into rear spoiler (hatch and sedan) or bootlid (sedan only) and option of driving lights. Front fascia differs to that of Pulsar Serie Rezzo).
Lucino JJ 3 door hatch(GA15DE engine, exactly same as Pulsar Serie X1, except for rear indicator lense covers being clear coloured).
Pulsar Serie X1R 3 door hatch and 4 door sedan (exactly same as Pulsar Serie X1 and Lucino JJ, except GA16DE engine featured instead of GA15DE).
Pulsar CJ-I and Pulsar CJ-II 4 door sedan (GA15DE engine, exactly same as Pulsar Serie Rezzo).
Pulsar SR-V 5 door hatch (GA15DE or SR18DE engine, indicative features include rear number plate surround fascia, front nudge bar and two-toned paint scheme).
Lucino SR-V 5 door hatch (exactly same as Pulsar SR-V, except rear indicator lense covers being clear coloured).
Pulsar GTI 3 door hatch and 4 door sedan (SR18DE engine, indicative features include 15" alloy wheels).
Pulsar 5 door hatch (GA15DE engine, exactly same as Pulsar and Lucino SR-V but without two-tone paint, nudge bar and rear number plate surround fascia).
Pulsar VZR 3 door hatch (SR16VE engine, available from 1998 onwards only, featured Nissan's NEO VVL technology and 15" alloys from Pulsar GTI).
Pulsar SR-V VZR 5 door hatch (SR16VE engine, exactly same as Pulsar VZR 3 door hatch).
A 4-wheel drive option was available in Pulsar SR-V, Lucino SR-V and Pulsar CJ-I, CJ-II and X1 (sedan only) models.
JDM N15 Pulsar and Lucino models had drivers airbag as standard. Passenger airbag was an option in 1995 and standard from 1996 onwards. Speedometer became digital from 1998. Tachometer was not present on Pulsar Serie Rezzo, Pulsar CJ-I, CJ-II and Lucino BB models. Air conditioning was standard on almost all models, but could be requested without. Manual adjusting windows were available on Pulsar Serie Rezzo, Pulsar CJ-I, CJ-II and Lucino BB models, otherwise electric windows were standard. Sunroof was available option on Pulsar Serie X1, Pulsar Serie X1R, Pulsar GTI, Pulsar VZR and Pulsar / Lucino SR-V models (hatch only). Manual controlled air conditioning controls were standard, climate control was available as option and standard on Pulsar Serie X1R, Pulsar GTI and Pulsar VZR.
An Autech tuned version of the Pulsar SRV and Lucino SRV was also available featuring the SR18DE engine. Indicative features included the placement of the spare-wheel on the rear boot lid and inclusion of plastic side mouldings over the wheel arches and large rear spoiler. As a result of shifting the spare-wheel to the boot lid, the number plate had to be relocated in the rear bumper, meaning a bumper was produced specific for this model.
The N15 Nissan Pulsar came with the following engine options:
GA15DE - 1500cc DOHC single point EFI. Featured in the Australian and New Zealand Pulsar LX, JDM Pulsar Serie Rezzo, JDM Pulsar Serie X1, JDM Pulsar CJ-I, JDM Pulsar CJ-II, JDM Pulsar SR-V, JDM Lucino BB, JDM Lucino JJ and JDM Lucino SR-V. There was a 4-wheel drive variant of the GA engine series available in the JDM Pulsar SR-V and JDM Lucino SR-V 5 door hatch and some JDM Pulsar CJ-I, Pulsar CJ-II and JDM Pulsar X1 4 door sedans.
GA16DE - 1600cc DOHC multi-point EFI (sometimes ECCS featured). Featured in the Australian and New Zealand new models Sentra SE, Sentra SLX Sentra Q and JDM Pulsar X1R hatch and sedan variants.
SR18DE - 1800cc DOHC multi-point EFI. Featured in the JDM Pulsar GTI 3 door hatch and 4 door sedan, JDM Pulsar SR-V 5 door hatch models. 4-wheel drive variant of SR engine series available in JDM Pulsar SR-V model.
SR20DE - 2000cc DOHC multi-point EFI. Featured in Australian and New Zealand (Australian assembled) Sentra and Pulsar SSS variant delivered with silver/red rocker cover, also called "Red Top" 105 kW @ 6400rpm / 179Nm @ 4800rpm-4800rpm / 0-100km/h 8.8 secs / Kerb weight 1142 kg.
Autech Version SR20DE - 1998cc DOHC multi-point EFI. Only Sold locally in Japan. Was used in Serie and Lucino Japanese Varients (576 produced total). Featured compression ratio of 11.5:1, 264 duration @ 11.4mm lift camshafts, unique valve springs, DET vales, portwork, piston oil squirters and uniqe pistons to achieve high compression. Power is stated at 180bhp/130kw @ flywheel. 191nm@4800rpm.
SR16VE - NEO VVL (Nissan Ecologically Orientated Variable Valve Timing and Lift). Featured in JDM Pulsar Serie VZ-R.
SR16VE N1 - Featured in the JDM Pulsar VZ-R N1, which was a racing homologation version intended to compete with the Honda Civic Type-R. Producing 200PS (197hp/147kW) from its 1.6 L SR16VE engine, it held the highest specific output ever for a naturally aspirated production car, at 123.125hp/litre until the Honda F20C engine was released in the Honda S2000.
In 2000, Nissan launched the N16 Pulsar, which included a compact MPV version (the Nissan Almera Tino or Nissan Tino) for the first time. The Wingroad continues to be sold as the Pulsar Wagon or Almera Traveller in many countries. To keep the Bluebird nameplate alive, Nissan shifted it to the four-door version of the Pulsar, and named it the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM).
In the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the Bluebird Sylphy is sold as the Nissan Sentra. In New Zealand and Thailand, the five-door Pulsar is imported from the UK, while the four-door model is essentially a rebadged Bluebird Sylphy. Consequently, each body style has a different front end. In Thailand, Singapore, and China, the N16 Bluebird Sylphy is sold as the Nissan Sunny.
In Indonesia, the Bluebird Sylphy or Pulsar is known as Sentra 1.8 Super Saloon. This model is for private use and sold between 2002 and 2004. It has standard ABS, dual SRS airbag, leather interior, and CD player with MP3. The facelifted model N16 is Sunny Neo 1.6, and intended for taxi use only.
For 2004, the N16 Bluebird Sylphy and Pulsar got facelift with revised grille, and a whole new rear end with "Teana-like" taillights. The N16 Sunny and Sentra were also received totally new front end.
After the Japanese production of Bluebird Sylphy G10 and Pulsar N16 were discontinued, the Sentra N16 is still manufactured and sold in the Philippines and Malaysia. The models for Malaysia are SG and SG-L, with the choice of Comfort or Luxury Package. The Sunny is continued to be offered in Singapore. Trim levels are EX Saloon, Super Saloon, and Luxury Edition.
In Australia and New Zealand, Nissan continued to use the Pulsar name for the N16. Four-door sedan and five-door hatchback versions were offered.
Trim levels were LX, ST, Q and Ti. Engine choices consisted of a 1.6-litre or a 1.8-litre four-cylinder with 16 valves. Power output was 83 kW (118 hp) and 92kW (123hp). The four-door was available in four trim levels - an LX with the 1.6, the ST and Ti with the 1.8-litre engine as standard, and a Q version with the 1.8 motor and a sportier level of trim, including a rear spoiler and alloy wheels.
In the five-door range there was no LX version, this being four-door only. Nissan launched the hatchback model with the ST trim level and a sporty Q version. As such, all hatches were 1.8-litre powered. The base-model LX sedan came with a driver's airbag, air-conditioning, remote locking and power mirrors, although no anti-lock brakes (ABS) or power windows were offered. Surprisingly, the ST five-door gained an extra front airbag, whereas the four-door model did not have one as standard.
In Ti form, the four-door gained both front airbags, ABS, climate-control air-conditioning, alloy wheels and power windows. The Q model was similar to the Ti four-door, although there were slight discrepancies between the sedan and hatch, with the latter version gaining an extra air-bag and 15-inch alloy wheels versus the 14-inch alloys on the sedan.
- In October 2005, a new Nissan Bluebird Sylphy (G11 series) was previewed and appeared at the Tokyo Motor Show.
- In Japan, the Nissan Tiida hatchback and Tiida Latio sedan replaced the Pulsar in 2004. The Tiida range was introduced in Australia and New Zealand in early 2006, certain European markets in 2007, and also the United States, as the Versa.
- In 2005 a concept car called the Nissan AZEAL debuted at the Detroit Auto Show. The Azeal, an affordable front wheel drive sport coupe aimed at the youth market, is best described as a successor to the Pulsar NX.