After a pretty lousy performance at the turn of the century, a hugely successful few years have followed for Nissan.

The hugely popular Qashqai and Juke have doubled the firm’s UK market share since 2007, but a greater trick has been to transform Nissan’s reputation from a peddler of some of Europe’s most staid and boring volume models to the creator of some of its most bold and interesting ones.

The firm now has ambitions to break in among Britain’s most successful brands.

But in order to seize the seven per cent share of the UK market on which it has designs and to force its way in among Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Audi and BMW in sales terms, Nissan must return to the part of the market it left when it killed off the Almera. It must go back to making plain, predictable and ordinary family hatchbacks.

So has it judged its crucial re-entry right with this, the new Pulsar? Designed and engineered for Europe, this is Nissan’s idea of the perfect showroom foil for a mid-size crossover: rational, conventional and pragmatic.

But is that the stuff of which great family hatches are made? Let's find out.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week