By on May 16, 2014

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.

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48 Comments on “Nissan Resurrects Another Storied Nameplate...”

  • avatar

    Can I be honest? I kind of like the profile of the Versa hatchback.

    Makes me wish Nissan made one in SE-R trim.

    • 0 avatar

      Me too. It’s a little tall but that’s fine. Would make for a nice cheap normal looking alternative to the Juke Nismo.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve seen some Versa hatchbacks with some nice aftermarket rims, and they look good. I guess that’s where Nissan was looking when they came up with the Versa Note Sport, but I’d still like to see one with more “go” than show.

        Oh, and if that iDX/510 concept or the Nismo Sentra were hitting showrooms this summer, there’s a pretty good chance I would not have got my Dart.

      • 0 avatar

        this! I love my altima 3.5 but the juke looks so tempting on paper. One of my neighbors have one and i never regert my purchase when I see the car in their driveway

  • avatar

    I prefer the nice Pulsar Langley sedan.

  • avatar

    I believe “craptastic” was coined to describe the original Pulsar.

  • avatar

    My 3rd car was a 2nd gen Pulsar. I thought they looked cool plus it had T-tops. At the time – my early 20’s, it was fun. In retrospect – almost 2 decades later, it wasn’t a very good car, it was 5-6 years old and it developed many niggling and cumulatively expensive problems. Although it was light with a low seating position and a standard transmission, so it would still be a relatively enjoyable drive today. I probably won’t look into the resurrected version, this post just made me a little nostalgic.

  • avatar


    This is what more automakers need to do, bring back their old names instead of resorting to alphanumeric nonsense!

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan makes up for it with the infiniti GFXJXQMwhateverlettersIforgot.

      • 0 avatar

        They’re renaming everything Infiniti to Q so you don’t have to remember!

      • 0 avatar

        No no remember it is now Infiniti Qinsertwhatevernumberhereisdoesn’tmatterpeoplewillsaythatwastheGFXQXright?Ican’tremember.

      • 0 avatar

        I finally figured out why the luxury car brands deliberately use difficult-to-distimguisj names.

        They’re trying to build the reputation of the brand, rather than the reputation of a particular model.

        It makes sense when you think about it. Especially when yoiu think about how a customer is going to brag do their friends, the relatively low sales numbers (compare Lincoln to the Honda Civic), the excessive prices/margins, and the chance at getting repeat business wehen the customer’s needs change. That way, the customer can change from a compact to an SUV and still brag that they have a $BLANK – which is supposed to be part of their self-image.

        That’s what the marketers seem to want, anyway. I find it interesting in a business school case study kind of way, but I’m not impressed.

  • avatar

    How about the Nissan Pulsate.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    My 1st car was a 1986 Nissan Pulsar NX, last year of the EXA body. I really did love that style for some strange reason.

  • avatar

    The Pulsar. The ’80s tin crapbox with the slightly sexual sounding name. Nice. Maybe now Toyota can bring back the Supra name.

  • avatar

    I’ve always thought the 80s Pulsar was just plain strange, but I’ve got a certain soft spot for its successor, the NX1600/2000.

  • avatar

    The Pulsar ?

    A “Storied” nameplate ?

    And err … on what planet might that be ? All my recollections of the Pulsar [ reviews – first hand experience – friends and neighbors that had the unfortunate experience of owning one etc ] being anything but ‘storied’ or even remotely resembling anything positive

    More like a “Sorry” nameplate if you ask me .

    Fact is the last thing on planet Earth Nissan needs is to bring the Pulsating Pulsar nameplate back along with all the negative connotations that go with it .

    Fact is its kind of sad and IMO indicative of the actual state of Nissan that they feel the need to dredge up nameplates with such bad memories attached instead of using a bit of creativity to come up with some new ones . Its never a good thing when a company/artist/musician tries to repeat the past . Especially when that past was anything but good

    Eeesh ! Next up ? GM reviving the Vega nameplate ? Ford resurrecting the Pinto name ? Oh hey hows about Cadillac bringing back the Cimmaron ? Or even worse … the Allante and the XLR … yeah .. lets bring back a sorry past we’d all be better off forgetting . Because what the heck . Its not like most of the automakers have anything new on offer !

    PS; Feel free to run with that last idea . I’ll be y’all can come up with a million of em !

    • 0 avatar

      The state of Nissan is pretty darn good IMO. They’re out front in innovation and design re: CVT, Cube, Juke, GTR, Murano cabriolet (yeah, I know, but they tried.) the underrated and underappreciated Altima, especially with the V6.

      And companies resurrect names all the time…mainly because they own them, no legal issues.

    • 0 avatar

      The later generations that had the GTI-r model were storied, and referenced in the article. They were just never sold in the US.

  • avatar

    Yes, it was different, but I miss my ’84 NX. A reliable and economical commuter, it was for its day a little fun, too.

  • avatar

    In the US, the Pulsar nameplate was usually reserved for some pretty miserable cars. Sometimes, the grass really is greener.

  • avatar

    Can’t wait for the ressurected Toyota Paseo … a Scion IQ with a trunk?

  • avatar

    My wife’s car when I met her was a nearly-new first generation Pulsar. Contrary to what a number of other commentators have said, I remember it as a competent and pleasant car with decent power and handling for its day. Certainly much better than the Chevrolet and Ford small cars our friends were driving at the time.

    Its one failing was that it was not as mechanically durable as its Honda and Toyota counterparts – while the body and interior still looked good at 120,000 miles, the oily bits were all worn out despite regular maintenance.

  • avatar

    Sorry, this name makes me see a clunky wristwatch with dim red numerals on a black-hole face.

    And right after that come unbidden memories of musk colognes.

  • avatar

    I applaud the use of a name that has at least some history rather than an instantly forgettable alpha-numeric combination, but I’m not sure “Versa based” CVT-saddled result will be anything memorable.

  • avatar

    WAIT! I see a partnership here! Pulsar and Hai Karate aftershave!! :-)

  • avatar

    A step in the right direction for Nissan. Now if only it could axe the Qashqai and the Juke…

  • avatar

    The Juke’s engine in a car that doesn’t look goofy would be wonderful.

  • avatar

    It’s about damn time. Knowing that the Juke has that awesome 1.6 DIT and Nissan’s spouse makes the Megane (I wonder how much of the Pulsar will be the same as the Megane), I’ve always wondered where Nissan’s premium compact car was.

    One thing that irritates me to no end is that Europe and Japan have a plethora of great compact cars such as the Astra, Megane and Auris while we either get their gimped cousins like the Cruze, Sentra and Corolla or have to pay luxury prices for one like the Verano or the CT200h (technically an Auris). I hope Nissan has the guts to bring the Pulsar over and make it a true competitor to the Golf.

  • avatar

    “an 8500 rpm-capable 1.6L 4-cylinder engine”

    Hmmm.. with a sensitive hand-throttle that could be used like a theremin.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    In Australia Nissan changed the name Pulsar to Tiida.

    What a dismal fail.

    This isn’t the only mistake Nissan has made since Renault paid $66 billion for them in the late 90s.

    Naming conventions for vehicles does hold value and heritage.

    Stating a Dodge pickup has a better ring than a Fiat Ram.

  • avatar

    Now they just need to bring back the goofy fiberglass removable top that transformed your two-door Pulsar into a really odd looking 3 door wagon

  • avatar

    How long do we have to wait for the return of the FairLady? Nissan/Datsun doesn’t have many “historic” badges, unlike Chrysler/FCA which can pull out the Mirada, Savoy or Cranbrook at any time.

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