India occupies critical place on global sales radar of Renault. This French company has ambitious plans for Indian market with their commitment to our local market has even surprised many of auto experts. After declaring barebones of its ambitious plan to become one of top three foreign manufacturers in India, Renault is now inching towards realization of this ambitious dream. While company’s offerings like Fluence and Koleos are meeting needs of high-end customers; company has devoted Pulse has been single-mindedly trying to woo much discerned hatchback Indian customers. In fact it is critically important for Pulse to strike a chord with Indian masses if Renault really wants to count among successful key players of Indian market. Success of Pulse will not only give the company only sales volume but also helps this French manufacturer to reap benefits of economies of scale. But then unlocking the code of this hypercompetitive and already congested small car segment of Indian automobile market is no child’s play. With bigwigs like Maruti-Suzuki, Hyundai, Honda etc. already hanging tuff at their respective places; Renault has an uphill task ahead to establish its badge-engineered product Pulse. A heavily disguised version of Nissan Micra, Pulse is centre of all small car category hopes Renault has pinned on to. Through Pulse Renault India has sought the membership of elite club enjoying innumerable benefits exclusive to this club. Now whether this application is accepted in customers’ jury or not; we find through road test of Renault Pulse.
Pulse is indispensably Micrawith mild alteration on the skinning front to give it somewhat sharper looks than the cutely styled Micra. Apart from the front fascia design all other changes are subtle in nature & not very intuitive to be recognized instantly.
Front fascia is dominated by large hexagonal blacked out section with small honeycomb grill with design seems to be inspired from the Ford’s Kinetic-Design philosophy. Headlamps are more angular & striking than Micra’s while heavily redesigned front bumper features sculpted fog lamps. Side profile is dominated by the sleek shoulder lines running all the way up to redesigned tail lamps. Curved window line is same as that of Micra but rear part of Pulse has some more spice compared to its cute cousin.
Large tapering rear wind screen along with bulges in the rear body panel is another subtle attempt to provide distinctive image to Pulse though in totality you need a keen eye to tell the difference between Micra & Pulse.
MONOTONOUS LIVING ROOM
Interiors of the Pulse are exactly same as of Micra. It means ready to start every new day in shades of grey if you are planning to buy Pulse. Almost everything ranging from dashboard to seats to centre console is wrapped in grey; fabric Inserts on the seats are the only things that comes to rescue in order to break monochromatic use of grey.
Design theme of interior; like Micra is inspired by roundness. Whole design of the centre console including AC vents, sound controls, music system features roundness. Even the chrome coated door opening handles are round in shape. Top of line model features some useful bits like push button ignition, opening the doors by request sensor & internally foldable power mirrors.
Renault hasn’t altered Pulse dimensions; except the length of car which is slightly more than Micra is. Wheel base of 2450 mm hints at decent space in the Pulse. Front seats are wide enough to hold you but could have end up better on bolstering front.
Rear is spacious enough to sit two persons comfortably with ample legroom & headroom available for two adults though our grouse regarding poor thigh support remains intact for Pulse also.Like Micra, Pulse is far more spacious than host of other B-segment contenders though sitting three abreast won’t be a comfortable affair for long drive as shoulder room is at premium.
Boot capacity stands at 251 liters which is decent by the small car standards. There is mild intrusion from suspension but still it is quite usable because of its shape. Low loading lip & wide aperture enhance the convenience aspect of the boot.
Mechanicals of Pulse are similar to that of alliance partner’s offering i.e. Micra. Pulse is powered by K9K dCi 1.5-litre diesel engine breathing with the help of 8 valves mechanism mounted on single overhead cam (SOHC). This motors pumps out 64 PSand 160 Nm of power and torque respectively.
Though the spec-sheet reads out same figures, we found Pulse a wee bit more refined & drivable than Micra is. Idle is slightly more refined & that very characteristic diesel hymn is less evident, even from the outside. Drivability is the focus for the engineers & Pulse has plenty of it with almost nil turbo lag. Engine pulls very cleanly from the low rpm’s even if you are driving in high gears. Unlike peaky diesel engine that characterizes most of the diesel hatchbacks, Pulse has linear power delivery that is sure to make things easy for the city commuters.
Mid-range is also good with power to wheels doesn’t show any signs of tapering off. Dab the throttle & you won’t find any difficulty in overtaking maneuvers though we aren’t very pleased with the top end performance of motor. Gearing on the shorter side might be culprit for mediocre performance of the mill towards the top end along with limited breathing capacity due to use of single overhead cam used for breathing mechanism.
Power to front wheels of Renault Pulse is channelized through the 5-speed manual transmission. Presently there has been no automatic variant in option though with increasing acceptability of automatics in Indian market we hope that Pulse can dress badge of PRND soon. Coming back to this manual transmission, Pulse package of engine and gearbox does fine. Clutch of Pulse is progressive and light though not in leagues of Grand i10 and Amaze that comes with feather touch clutch operation. dCi engine is mated with 5-speed manual transmission which once again is average in terms of its slickness and operability. There is sufficient hint of notchiness withshifting requires directional efforts too. Brake action has swift response with sufficiently good bite though peddle fumbled a bit on test car. However electrically assisted power steering is totally effortless in its operation and sure to take stress out of regular city commutes.
TWIST & TWIRL
Based on same platforms means Micra & Pulse shares most of mechanical bits including the suspension. Up front McPherson strut does the duty while at rear coil spring is used to suspend the 15’’ alloy wheels. Top of line RxZ model comes with 175 mm wide rubber featuring aspect ratio of 60.
Suspension settings is on the stiffer side; another exception from the route generally followed by most hatchbacks. Stiffer spring means you won’t get much comfort & cushioning at slow speed but this doesn’t mean that you are that much uncomfortable. Yes you will experience some jerks directly intruding into cabin but as you gas up pedal everything seems to be settled down. With increasing whack, Pulse shows amazing ability to smooth-out all undulations of the road.
Handling is above average that most of the hatchbacks show. Stiffer suspension means there is limited body roll & Pulse shows great composure. Unexpected maneuvers along with lane changes won’t require you to give second thought before executing these acts. Strong brake with good bite is another pleasant thing in Pulse’s kitty. Pulse comes with an ARAI certified mileage figures of 23.09 km/ liter which is very impressive by any standards. Even in worst case this should translate into 13-15 km in city & above 16 on the highways another compelling factor in favor of Pulse.
Renault has priced Pulse’s top model RxZ at Rs 6.25 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Top-end of Pulse comes with host of features and on equipment front, Pulse makes a decent case for itself though value for money assets of this Renault is nothing but average. Despite of being a rebadged version of Nissan Micra, we think Renault has done a decent job in differentiating Pulse from its Japanese counterpart Micra. Renault has worked upon Micra and company is been successful in putting across Pulse as more refined, drivable & aggressive proposition. Pulse is extremely city friendly car and with its strong engine, compact dimensions, roomy interiors & good dynamic abilities; it ticks all right boxes. Further impressive ARAI certified mileage of Pulse makes it even more adorable product though biggest challenge in front of Pulse is wafer-thin dealership network of Renault that is still limited only to metropolitan cities. Rnault has to make itself absolutely clear on the dealership front as without the strong and wide partner support, it is almost impossible to win over customer. With already having some of the best-engineered products under its belt including Pulse; Renault now must concentrate on to revive its network with utmost urgency.
Style & Substance 3/5 Ride & Handling 4.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 3.5/5