When Nissan revived the Datsun brand for its lineup of small, low-cost cars, enthusiasts were left wondering whether they’d ever see a performance oriented Datsun. The answer appears to be an emphatic “not a snowball’s chance in hell” – but their latest new car may be a better candidate for the return of a historic badge.
Nissan’s long awaited rival to the VW Golf and Ford Focus will bear the Pulsar moniker, just like past compact Nissans have done all over the world. The Pulsar nameplate is still used in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, on a vehicle related to the Nissan Versa, but the newest Pulsar in Europe is an all-new design, intended to make Nissan a serious player in the C-segment hatchback market.
Past Pulsars have included the legendary GTI-R rally special and the little-known VZ-R (with an 8500 rpm-capable 1.6L 4-cylinder engine), and Nissan will be offering a Nismo version of the Pulsar as well. Based on how far Nissan went with the Nismo Juke RS, it should have some decent performance chops, even if it’s not an AWD homologation special.
While Nissan has always lagged in this segment, they’ve managed to build up a tidy business in Europe by bringing to market some of the first viable small crossovers, in both the Juke and the wildly popular Qashqai. Now that Nissan has finally established itself as a serious player in Europe, the hope is that the Pulsar will give them market share in the dominant passenger car segment as well.