Corporate drivers who prefer cars with conservative styling are expected to form the bulk of buyers choosing the latest model from Nissan.
Despite spectacular success with the mid-size Qashqai crossover, the Japanese firm believes the time is now right for a return to the hatchback design it abandoned eight years ago.
“The Qashqai leads its sector and has transformed our company, but we need to recognise that the crossover does not have universal popularity. It makes sense for us to widen our offer because many of our customers – and business motorists in particular - still want cars with more traditional bodywork.
“Launching our new Pulsar doesn't mean we're going back to the days when we produced the Almera hatchback - things are different now. But our ambition is to continue growing our business and we can't ignore the fact that C-segment hatchbacks account for 18 per cent of the UK market and we need to compete,” said Nissan Motor GB managing director James Wright.
In an interview at the media launch of the Pulsar in Spain, he told Fleet News: “Our brand has moved to a different place since the days of the Almera. It has a more credibility and we feel we are now able to support a more traditional product. We also believe we are introducing a car that brings different qualities to the market.”
Corporate drivers are expected to account for 60 per cent of the anticipated 12,000 to 15,000 annual registrations of the five-door Pulsar, which goes on sale next month. (Oct)
Though pitched to undercut the Golf and Focus while offering superior packaging and equipment, the model's main rivals are Toyota's Auris, the Kia ceed and the Hyundai i30.
“Our volume expectations are low because most of our old hatchback customers have moved elsewhere, but we believe Pulsar will be a high conquest product,” he said.
Based on the longest wheelbase in the segment, the Pulsar features high grade detailing, has a spacious interior boasting unrivalled rear seat accommodation and large luggage capacity.
Fleet demand is expected to be equally split between the turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines on offer and the dCi version impresses with a smooth, quiet output and a more lively demeanour than is suggested by official performance figures.
Standard equipment on the Acenta includes stop-start, a five-inch colour infotainment screen, steering wheel controls, dual zone air conditioning, push button start, Bluetooth, auto lights and wipers and a radar-sensor system that applies the brakes if it detects an impact.