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Nissan’s ‘Pulsar GTI-R’, Born In The Heyday Of The Hot Hatch

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TEXT: 高桑秀典(TAKAKUWA Hidenori)  PHOTO: 高桑秀典(TAKAKUWA Hidenori)

  • Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
  • Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
  • Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
  • Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
  • Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
  • Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
  • Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
  • Nissan Pulsar GTI-R

Discover the Pulsar GTI-R at Nostalgic 2 Days!

Nostalgic 2 Days, held 17-18 Feb 2024 at Pacifico Yokohama, is a major motor show starring old and out-of-print cars. Nationally renowned special shops, parts manufacturers, and restoration specialists exhibited their products and sold limited-edition goods along with vehicle displays. This year’s show introduces the Pulsar GTI-R, a hot version of Nissan’s fourth-generation Pulsar, which debuted in 1990.

A hot hatch of yesteryear that is now a rarity

The only domestic cars called hot hatches nowadays are the Suzuki Swift Sport and the Toyota GR Yaris, but there was once a time when there was an unlimited choice. The Nissan Pulsar GTI-R was introduced in 1990, the highest-performance version of the fourth-generation Pulsar (N14), a hot hatch that was developed on the premise of competing in the World Rally Championship (WRC) under Group A regulations, where mass-produced cars with an annual production of more than 5,000 units compete.

The 2-liter turbocharged SR20DET engine, which produced a maximum output of 230 hp, was mounted in the front section, and the car also featured 4WD with the ATTESA four-wheel drive force optimization control system.

Since the SR20DET engine was diverted to other cars with the same type of engine, the number of Pulsar GTI-Rs in existence was low and there were almost no opportunities to encounter them on the streets, but we spotted one at the M:CRAFT booth of Mihara Motors at the Nostalgic 2 Days event. We were able to check out the details of the car, which was finished with a focus on the stock interior and exterior.

Takayuki Kinoshita was the development driver

At the M:CRAFT booth of Mihara Motors, base model vehicles for WRC competition were on display and for sale, so there were also Toyota ST165 “Celica GT-FOUR”, Mitsubishi E39A “Galant VR-4”, Subaru GC8 “Impreza WRX Sti”, Mitsubishi CE9A ” Lancer Evolution II” were also lined up, but the reason why the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R was chosen was that racing driver and motor journalist Takayuki Kinoshita was on site.

Takayuki Kinoshita, who also writes a regular column for AMW, is known for having become a Nissan-contracted works driver when he left the publishing company and expanded his field of competition overseas, but he was involved in development as a Pulsar GTI-R test driver back in the day.

The Pulsar GTI-R, put together by Kinoshita, who is still active as a racing driver at the age of 63, entered the WRC in the 1991 season as Nissan’s works rally weapon, and was driven by local rally driver Stig Bronqvist in the 1992 Swedish Rally. Bronqvist fought hard and finished third overall. In Group N, which has a narrower scope for modifications than Group A, the car proved its high potential by winning the annual title that year.

The Pulsar GTI-R was short-lived as a competition car as it lasted only two years, but as a road car, it was highly popular as a high-performance hot hatch with a unique appearance and did not drop out of the catalog until the release of the fifth generation N15 Pulsar in 1995. M:CRAFT is selling a 1994 Pulsar GTI-R that has been fully painted, so WRC fans who think they have what it takes should visit Kitakyushu City in Fukuoka Prefecture and check out the car for themselves.

translated by DeepL

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