Curbside Capsules: Pulsar Showdown – GTI-R / Q / Grinny

pulsar cover

There are many names that send a pulse of adrenalin coursing through the veins; Sunny, Tiida, Q, GTI, GTI-R, NX, EXA, GXE, Ti, SSS, GL, Primera, Vector, Sabre, Arex, Langley, Cherry, Sentra, Bluebird Sylphy, Liberty Villa, Holden Astra, Alfa Romeo Arna and Audi Grinny. And all they have one thing in common. Nissan Pulsar. Today we take a random selection from Melbourne’s curbs and see how they stack up.


1990-94 Nissan Pulsar GTI-R

An early entrant in the all-wheel-drive turbocharged flourish. An air-to-air intercooled Garrett T3 turbocharger was mated to the Pulsar’s 2 litre aluminium twin cam and drove an ATTESA four-wheel-drive with a viscous centre coupling to give a 50/50 split.


Prepared to homologate a Group A rally car, Nissan instead withdrew from rallying so it could never really be measured in battle against its STi and Evo counterparts. There was also a lightweight JDM-only version offered which shaved 30kg off the 1220 kg weight.

This one’s a JDM grey import, we never got these in their day. The UK got 70 of them as the Sunny GTi-R.


Max Power: 220 PS @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 196 lb ft @ 4800 rpm
Max Speed: 134 mph (lightweight 139)
0-60 mph: 6.1 secs (5.9)


1987-91 Nissan Pulsar Q

Nissan did a JV with Holden as part of a policy of rationalisation in the Australian automotive industry during the early eighties. Holden badged theirs Astra, and both were powered by the GM-sourced Family II 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine. The Q was a local market budget sporty trim level for the Pulsar, above the base GL and beneath the fully sicker SSS and luxo Ti.


Max Power: 107 PS @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 111 lb ft @ 3,600 rpm

Key Standard Equipment
2 Speaker Stere0, Power Door Mirrors, Disc Brakes Front Ventilated, Power Steering, Disc Brakes Rear Solid, Spoiler – Rear, Limited Slip Diff


1984-85 Audi Grinny

A ill-fated foray into rallying with the disastrous Quattro all-wheel-drive cars had Audi in despair. A team of VW negotiators was secretly despatched to Japan to find a quick remedy. Subaru was approached first, but declined. Nissan jumped at the chance to utilise a lightened Patrol arrangement and in return they got a (JDM-only) prestigious European brand atop their staggeringly tall Pulsar hierarchy.

The Grinny delivered the exhilaration of the Alfa Romeo Arna with all-wheel-drive.


Yeah… nar… made that up.

This isn’t a photochop, though.



Further Reading:

1979-82 Nissan 310 Coupe and Hatchback CC

1983 Pulsar CC

1983 Alfa Romeo Arna

1983-85 Pulsar NX CC

1991-95 Australian Spec Pulsar CC

1992 Pulsar NX 2000 CC Capsule