While it might seem a curious tack for a brand that has in recent history made its mark primarily with crossovers, there are myriad reasons for its move.
"The Qashqai has a massive following," says Pulsar product manager Andrew Limbert, "but it's not ideal to have all our eggs in one basket.
"We can increase volumes by spreading out and drawing more people into the brand by catering for their needs. We also think we can bring something to the sector for buyers from other brands."
“In the past you could say we’ve been quite guilty of very different directions on design", comments Limbert. "Now we’ve got much more family resemblance and a stronger statement.
Even entry-level models will effectively look the same as their more costly counterparts, with matching headlight designs, alloy wheels and gloss black and carbon-effect exterior trims.
Customisation opportunities will be limited though, most likely to small details like mirror cap covers, unlike other products in Nissan's range. Unlike the Juke, personalisation is not an important part of this car's character or appeal.
Inside you'll find a spacious cabin with ample seating for four, if not five, adults. The fit and finish is impressive – even those this is still effectively a prototype – and the materials used throughout are of a suitably high standard. Everything is laid out in an intuitive fashion and it's not difficult to find a comfortable seating position.
The sheer amount of room in the back, in particular, is impressive. "It offers more space than many larger D-segment cars in the back", says Limbert. "The door openings are wide too and we've made sure that you can access things like the Isofix points quickly. It's all about practicality and space."
A large 385-litre boot – some five litres more than a VW Golf – should prove more than adequate for most, while the rear seats can be folded to further increase the car's luggage capacity. They don't fold flat, however, but at least the option is there.
Equipment levels are high throughout the range, furthering the Pulsar's appeal. Trim levels comprise Visia, Acenta, N-tec and range-topping Tekna. Even the entry-level trim, however, features air-con, Bluetooth, a five-inch infotainment screen, cruise control and start stop.
An array of advanced safety equipment will be offered too, including Nissan's surround-view camera system with a moving object alert feature. "We aim to make the technology accessible in our line-up," states Limbert. "You don't have to pay the big expensive options prices to get the kit."
This idea is furthered by niceties such as a colour driver's information display, lifted from the Qashqai, being standard across the range. Features like these serve to bolster the ambience and quality feel of the Pulsar.
Nissan has benchmarked the Pulsar against the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Kia Cee'd and Renault Mégane. This process highlighted areas that needed improvement; for example the Golf proved quieter inside which led to further revisions for the Pulsar.
Mechanically the car is comparatively conventional, with initial engine options including a 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel. All are front-wheel drive and come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.