2012 : Refreshed Twin?
Renault India may not have had a smooth ride in the past but it’s not letting that be a discouraging factor. Instead, Renault India is gearing up for the Indian market with some new and interesting launches like the Duster SUV and a sedan in October in addition to the existing line up of D Segment sedan Fluence, premium compact SUV Koleos and Pulse.
Renault Pulse, unveiled by Formula1 drivers Mark Webber and Karun Chandok, marked Renault’s entry in India's hatchback segment to grab some share of the now very popular small car scene here.
Though the resemblance in looks to the Nissan Micra has over-shadowed the Renault Pulse, the retro based design theme of the Pulse pushes it away from peers like the 2011 Maruti Suzuki Swift and kinetic design based Ford Figo.
To find out whether the new Renault grabs India’s “Pulse”, we review the RxL variant of the Renault Pulse.
Highs of 2012 Renault Pulse
Lows of 2012 Renault Pulse
Exterior and Interiors very similar to the Nissan Micra
Renault Pulse borrows the Micra platform so heavily that the first look of the car mistakes you for the Micra always. Though, I have developed some liking for the way the Pulse looks.
For me, Renault Pulse will score comparatively more points than the Nissan Micra, the reason being the Pulse is “boldy” designed compared to the Micra.
Redesigned headlight assembly with sharper lines helps the Pulse to get the smarter look. The same can be seen on the bonnet too.
The chunky Renault logo sits firm between the body line and the honey comb radiator grille. The Nissan Micra has cute styling but the cuteness has been shed off for the Renault Pulse with the exposed and butched twin radiator grille with chrome lines.
If Nissan Micra had a shy face, then the Renault Pulse looks to have an evil smirk. The jaw line, which holds the fog lamps gives a good front profile with a teeth like arrangement covering the radiator.
Side profile consists of the 165/70R14 Steel tyres and the pull type door handles. Proportions of the door sizes have been kept very balanced even though it’s a small car. The B-pillars have been camouflaged in black.
The trend that one sees these days is that of wrap around lights, which sweep their way around the body of the car. The Pulse, going with its old-school styling has jetting out tail lamps with circular lamps inside it.
The tail gate of the Pulse reminds me of the Koleos with extreme lines running from the side converging in the middle and meeting the chrome syllables of PULSE. Micra’s rear looks too plain jane compared to that of Pulse, which has more of curves.
Rear profile of the Pulse is more exciting. The profiles on the bumper make it more interesting. Contrasting dark contours on the rear bumper make it look sportier.
Flowing roof line is something in common between both the cars.
Body colored ORVMs can be internally adjusted electrically. The RxZ variant has the automatically foldable rear view mirror, when the vehicle is locked.
To sum it up, the Renault Pulse may look similar but is more sporty and bold in design compared to the Nissan Micra. Renault seems to have developed a liking for curves as all its models have a curvaceous profile.
The exterior of the Renault Pulse impressed me with its bold lines but the interiors sadly don’t have any distinguishing factor compared to the Nissan Micra. So if you make someone sit inside any one of the cars and remove his blind fold, he won’t be able to make out the difference between them.
Inside the Renault Pulse RxL, you won’t be greeted by a leather wrapped steering wheel but the one that comes in stock is not too depressing either. A standard 3- spoke design.
Instrumentation cluster has been kept really simple and basic. It looks directly ripped off from the Nissan Micra. It features a tachometer, speedometer and a digital info display screen which informs you on the trip information, average fuel consumption and distance to empty.
Walnuts have been replaced with plum and black as a shade on the dashboard.
Central console features twin AC vents, Aluminum finished music system and the AC controls. The AC has a 4 speed blower and is effective in cooling. The compact nature of the design helps the cabin to get cool real fast.
Music System in the Pulse comes with 4 speakers. The sound quality was not too impressive. It just refuses to bring out good quality music no matter how many permutations you try with the settings.Interiors scream Nissan Micra from every bit, which I found disappointing especially as the exteriors had left a good image on me.
Headroom and legroom are decent. The hatchback won’t make you feel cramped at all. Seats have lumbar support for the driver and co-driver. Rear seats are comfortable for tall passengers too which scored a point.
Plum colored seats go well with the interiors and do not make you feel inferior compared to the RxZ variant.
Under the Steering rack lies the Mirror adjustment and the Mirror Close Open button, which is useful. In the RxZ, ORVMs close automatically when the vehicle is locked.
Map reading lamps given on the Pulse score more points than the one in Nissan Micra.
Plastic quality of the interiors and the switches are decent. Though, you find the same standards with the Nissan Micra. My favorite in the interiors still remains Maruti Suzuki. Their dominance for so long has a justified reason.
Conclusion on the interiors of the Pulse would be decent quality plastics, spacious interiors and if not generous but adequate legroom for all passengers.
On the front dashboard, under the plum finished section, there is a peculiar shaped recess. I call It peculiar because the purpose of the recess is undefined.
The inclined glove box can swallow in some basic folders and a mini laptop. If you decide to force in the owners’ manual too, then forget the mini laptop going in.
There are 3 cup holders inside the car, 2 for the front row and one for the rear row. Besides the handbrake, there is a storage, which comes handy storing change and toothpick. Front doors have pockets to accommodate a beverage bottle and also spacing for keeping receipts. Rear doors are sans these privileges.
Boot space is 251L, which is more than the Swift, can take in good amount of luggage. The boot space gets camouflaged cause of the dainty rear tail gate.
The Renault Pulse has a 4 cylinder 8 valve1461cc Renault K9K engine. The engine produces a peak power of 64 bhp at 4000 rpm and 160Nm torque at 2000 rpm. A 5-speed manual transmission governs the unit.
The K9K is the same unit which powers the Nissan siblings Micra and Sunny. It is very natural to believe that the performance of the Renault Pulse would be similar to that of Nissan Micra. Here the Pulse surprised us.
Renault Pulse feels lighter and more agile compared to the Nissan Micra. We offered the Pulse to a gentleman, who has bought a Micra a week back and were very keen to get his take on it. He was mighty impressed and asked us the status of booking the car and whether it was possible to get his car exchanged. His enthusiasm was a proof that the Renault engineers did a good job.
The gear shifts are smooth in normal city conditions as well as highways. The transmission got little jittery, when we tried playing with it on ghat sections. It is not a very zippy car but even then it managed to get our praise.
Torque delivery was fantastic. One doesn’t feel sluggish when the engine pulls out. One more thing that managed to get my appreciation is the engine refinement, being a diesel car, the smooth nature of the K9K engine is highly recommended.
In traffic clad roads, the 4.65m turning radius with a short driving stance is a blessing. Braking is very effective with the ventilated discs in front and drums doing round in back and the vehicle doesn’t steer away even when braked abruptly.
We got the best fuel efficiency figure of 18kmpl, which is little less than what Renault claims of 23.08kmpl.
|Fuel tank capacity||41|
|Tyres and wheel rating RxL||165/70 R14 (Steel)|
|Tyres and wheel rating RxZ||175/60 R15(Alloy)|
|Color Options||Metallic silver||Pearl white||Solid Black|
|Metallic Grey||Champagne Gold||Metallic Red|
|Warranty||2+2 years/80000km which ever is earlier|
|Front Fog lamps||No||Yes|
|Rear wiper and washer||Yes||Yes|
|Bdy color bumper and door handles||Yes||Yes|
|Leather grear shift knob with special finish||No||Yes|
|Leather wrapped steering wheel||No||Yes|
|Tilt adjustable steering||Yes||Yes|
|Front and rear power windows||Yes||Yes|
|Engine start/stop push button||Yes||Yes|
|Electrically adjustable ORVM||Yes||Yes|
|Smart access key-5 doors||No||Yes|
|Manual airconditioning with heater||Yes||No|
|Automatic climate control system||No||Yes|
|Integrated audio system||Yes||Yes|
|Exshow room Mumbai in Rs||636000||693100|
|RXL With airbags(optional)||649600||-|
|RXZ With Passanger airbag (optional)||-||706600|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||RXZ with Dual airbag||XV||Titanium||Vdi|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||160/2000||160/2000||160/2000||190/2000|
|Tyre Size||175/60 R15||165/70 R14||175/65 R14||165/80 R14|
|Front power windows||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear power windows||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ex showroom price Mumbai||706660||607384||599999||601798|
Built on the same V platform like the Nissan Micra, Renault Pulse would be definitely compared with the Nissan Micra. The similarity in the look and the feel of both the cars is bound to eat on each other’s market holdings.
Renault Pulse, which is little longer and shorter than the Micra, would appeal to them who like a sporty design. The Pulse has been priced “interestingly” lesser.
Maruti Suzuki Swift is undoubtedly a favourite among many but the long waiting periods deviates the prospective customers. Renault can cash in on this with the Pulse.
The main issue of concern remains the dealer and servicing network. Renault needs to build a strong network throughout India to give the buyers the confidence to trust the brand. Hope Renault gets aggressive in marketing its brand. The Pulse can manage to grab the “Pulse” of India provided the dealership chain increases.