Looking like a scaled-down Maxima, Nissan's new Pulsar sedan has more interior room, higher safety levels, a new more responsive and more economical 1600cc engine.
The car has been re-designed from the floorpan up, and comes only as a sedan. There is no hatchback in the range.
The car is available with a five-speed manual or all-new four-speed automatic gearbox.
The cabin offers 25mm more space between the front seat occupants, who have an extra 22mm headroom. There is 26mm more headroom in the rear seat. The seats have higher hip-points - 25mm higher at the front, and 15mm higher in the rear - to make it easier to get into and out of the car.
The body is 30 percent more rigid than the old model Pulsar's, giving a quieter, more comfortable ride, better handling and improved safety. The reduced body movement allows the MacPherson strut front suspension and the rear Multilink Beam set-up to work better.
Overall, the new Pulsar is 150mm longer at 4470mm and 50mm higher at 1445mm. Its width is 5mm greater at 1695mm.
The new multi-point fuel injected, 1.6 litre, Double Overhead Camshaft, 16 valve engine develops 87kW at 6000rpm and 143Nm of torque at 4400rpm. Ecomony is better than the previous Pulsar's and the greater mid-range torque improves driveability.
The engine has VVTC (Variable Valve Timing Control), which optimises the timing of the intake valves to suit different engine revs. Micro finishing of the crankshaft and camshaft reduces friction loss, helping fuel economy and engine response.
A more powerful 32-bit engine microcomputer controls all engine management operations and adjusts ignition timing.
A new electronically-controlled automatic transmission replaces the previous hydraulically-operated unit. The new auto has smoother gear changes and an optimised shift pattern to reduce changes on hills.
The engine and transmission computers talk to each other to provide better economy, smoother shift patterns and to reduce the hunting between third and fourth gears when driving uphill.
The new five-speed manual gearbox has double cone synchromesh for the first and second gears. Gear changes are lighter and quicker.
A driver's airbag is standard.
Computer designed complex surface reflectors (CSR's) are used in the halogen headlamps to more accurately focus the light output and provide 50 percent better illumination than conventional headlights.
The windscreen wiper blades have been enlarged for better coverage and the door rear vision mirrors are bigger to give a better field of view.
With the new body comes a six percent larger boot. It now has a capacity of 430 litres.
Cabin lighting comes on when the doors are unlocked and stays on long enough to insert the key into the ignition. The lighting also comes on when the engine is switched off, making it easy to gather up belongings and check that nothing has been left behind.
All Pulsars have power steering; body-colour bumpers; tilt-adjustable steering columns; velour upholstery; front door pockets; a centre console box; and a security system with engine immobiliser. The central locking now has remote control, with an extra button on the remote to open the boot.
Air-conditioning is standard, together with electrically-operated windows and electrically adjustable door mirrors. There is a driver's footrest. A four-speaker stereo Compact Disc player replaces the radio cassette unit and is fitted across the range.
The LS models have ABS anti-skid brakes, a front passenger airbag and pre-tensioned front seatbelts with load limiters.
There are five colours: Aspen White, Ruby Red Pearl, Silver Crystal, Veridian Green and Kingfisher Blue.
The LX is priced at $28,295 for the five speed manual or $29,495 for the automatic. The LS models are $29,895 for the manual, and $31,095 for the auto.