The Japanese automaker Nissan introduced its subcompact vehicle called the Nissan Pulsar in 1978. It remained in production until 2007 when Nissan Tiida took its place in the automotive market. Nissan Pulsar was introduced originally as a replacement vehicle for the front-wheel drive, Nissan Cherry (models E10 and F10). Majority of the Pulsar models were front wheel drive, however, Nissan also offered four-wheel drive versions as well between 1980 and 1990. All wheel drive turbocharged Nissan Pulsar GTI-R was also released. In some markets, the Nissan Pulsar was marketed as Nissan Sunny and Nissan Almera.
First Generation (N10/N11; 1978–1982)
In 1978, the first generation Pulsar appeared as a subcompact car replacing the previous Nissan Cherry. The other names used for Pulsar in different markets were: Datsun Cherry, Datsun 100A, Datsun 120A, Datsun 130A, Datsun 140A and Datsun 150A in European market. In US market, it was marketed as the Datsun 310, while the N10 Pulsar was sold in Australian market as Datsun Pulsar. The Datsun 310 was sold in Canada with Pulsar striping on its rear quarters. In 1980, a new upmarket version of Pulsar was introduced as N11 Nissan Langley.
Although, several different body styles were introduced for Pulsar, not all the body styles were available in the markets it was sold in.
In 1980, a facelift was released with horizontal grille and rectangular headlights. The new Nissan E-series engines were also introduced that were supposed to be used in N12 series.
Second Generation (N12; 1982–1986)
The second generation Pulsar was released in 1982. It came with more angular styling than previous models. The second generation Pulsar was also produced by Alfa Romeo in Italy as Arna (referred to Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoeicoli) and powered by Alfa Romeo engines. There were many Italian models marketed in the Japanese as well as European markets under Nissan badges. For instance, in Japan, the model sold as Nissan Pulsar Milano, while in Europe the model was offered as Nissan Cherry Europe.
There were different vehicles produced by Nissan for which it used the Pulsar name. For instance, the Nissan Langley was essentially a top of the line Pulsar; the Nissan Liberta Villa was offered as 4-door model; the Nissan Pulsar EXA, a 2-door coupe version with pop-up headlights. For most of the models, European markets stuck with the Cherry name.
In North America, the Pulsar EXA was marketed as the Pulsar NX and took lots of components from the Nissan Sentra. The Pulsar NX remained in North American market from 1983 to 1986. It was powered by two engines, i.e. either by fuel injected turbocharged E15ET engine or carbureted naturally-aspirated E16S engine. The Nissan Langley was offered as Nissan Pulsar in Australian market.
In the honor of the 15th anniversary of the Nissan Cherry dealership in Japan, a limited edition Pulsar EXA Convertible was introduced in May 1985.
Third Generation (N13; 1986–1990)
The design chief at Nissan showed his disinclination to the company in designing smoother, aerodynamic looking car rather he directed his design team to design an affordable, subcompact car in 1986. In the end the resulting car was the N13 series Pulsar with an introduction of four-wheel drive. In Australia, the Pulsar/Astra association sustained with the Langley marketed as Pulsar as well as the Nissan’s 4-door sedan called the Pulsar Vector. In Japan, the Langley was sold as a ‘Japanese-spec’ Pulsar equipped with a DOHC 1.8-L engine. The N13 Langley also featured a limited-slip differential, comfortable interior and the much adored black headlights, center grille and round Skyline-style taillights.
In 1987, the driver side airbags were introduced in Nissan Pulsar NX followed by passenger airbags in 1994. In some countries the Sunny and the Pulsar models were merged to produce a single model called the Nissan Sentra including New Zealand.
It was available in Europe as Nissan Sunny different from the one offered in Asia. Similarly, it was marketed as Nissan Sentra in Malaysia clearly different from the American version. Nissan Sabre was the nameplate used in South Africa.
Fourth Generation (N14; 1990–1995)
The fourth generation N14 series Pulsar was launched in 1990. The company dropped the Langley and Liberta Villa names and platform then led the basis for the well-known GTI-R model homologated by Nissan to make entry in WRC.
In New Zealand it continued as Sentra different from the one sold in American and Mexican markets. The badge Sentra was also used in Taiwan but there it was assembled under license by Yulon.
All the three body styles including 3-door hatchback, 5-door hatchback and 4-door sedan were sold under the name Sunny in the European market together with the B-platform Sunny Traveller Estate. However, it was known California in Japan and New Zealand, while AD Resort in South Africa.
In United States and Canada, No N14 Pulsar was offered rather NX Coupe was sold in these markets and was based on the similar chassis, engines and other components as N14 Pulsar.
Fifth Generation (N15; 1995-2000)
The fifth generation N15 Pulsar was introduced in 1995. It was sold as Nissan Almera in European market. Nissan Sentra badge was replaced by Pulsar in New Zealand in 1998 when the Nissan assembly plant in Wiri, Auckland was closed. The N15 was available in 4- and 5-door versions, while 3-door model was offered only in Europe.
LX, SLX, Q and SSS were the different versions offered in Australia. New Zealand received S and SE versions. The SSS 5-door hatch version came with SR20DE engine developing 105 kW (141 hp) and torque of 179 Nm.
Sixth Generation (N16; 2000–2005)
The sixth generation N16 Pulsar was launched by Nissan in 2000. In this particular generation, the compact MPV version of Pulsar called the Nissan Almera Tino or Nissan Tino was introduced for the first time. In many countries the Wingroad was offered as the Pulsar Wagon or Almera Traveller. Nissan introduced a 4-door version of Pulsar with a view to keep the Bluebird name alive. The car was given the name Nissan Bluebird Sylphy and sold in home market.
It was still sold as Nissan Sentra in many countries including Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia. The 5-door Pulsar was imported from UK in New Zealand and Thailand, but the 4-door model was sold primarily as a rebadged Bluebird Sylphy. The N16 Bluebird Sylphy was sold under the Nissan Sunny badge in Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and China.
The facelift models appeared for N16 Bluebird Sylphy and Pulsar were released in 2004 featuring a redesigned grille, and an entire new rear end having ‘Teana-like’ taillights.
The Sentra N16 continued to be produced and sold in Philippines and Malaysia despite the discontinuation of the Japanese Bluebird Sylphy G10 and Pulsar N16. The two versions were offered in Malaysia including SG and SG-L. A Comfort or Luxury Package was also available. In Singapore the Nissan Sunny continued to be sold as EX Saloon, Super Saloon, and Luxury Edition, while in Sri Lanka only EX Saloon and Super Saloon was available.