First Drive

Renault Pulse review, test drive

Renault’s second India innings may have started with premium models, but now they’ve locked sights on the segment that matters the most.

DETAILS
8
photos

Renault’s entry into India has been challenging to say the least. Its first offering, the Logan, was a rebadged version of Romanian brand Dacia’s low-cost saloon. It struggled here, and caused Indians to associate Renault with ‘budget’. The fact is the French brand has good equity in Europe, with a vast motorsport and road-car history that spans more than a century.

Keen to properly establish the brand on our shores, Renault promptly handed over the Logan to Mahindra (you now know it as the Verito) and launched a premium product offensive this year with the Fluence executive saloon and the Koleos soft-roader. Of course, this is India, and we thrive on small, frugal hatchbacks, and Renault has been paying attention. So for its third model of the year, it has given us this, the Pulse.

As you can probably tell from the looks, the Renault Pulse is a Nissan Micra; there’s no escaping the fact. Renault-Nissan’s research told them that the general consensus among the car-buying public was the Micra looked too cute, and this was putting a lot of potential male customers off. So to kill two birds with one stone, the Alliance cleverly rebadged the Micra as a Renault, saving on development costs and simultaneously appealing to a whole different kind of customer.

The Pulse sports a large, aggressive grille which gives it a purposeful stance. The rear bumper features a blacked-out section that mimics a diffuser and the hatch has a pair of sharp creases running symmetrically across, converging on a massive Renault ‘lozenge’ logo.

The Pulse is powered by the familiar Renault-Nissan 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines, the latter of which we’re testing here. It produces a modest 63bhp and 16.3kgm and on urban roads, is immediately impressive. Initial engine response is good and there’s very little turbo lag. Half-throttle responses are also good and the Pulse ambles along at low speeds rather well. Mid-range performance is healthy and you have adequate passing power on tap. It’s only on the highway that you feel the lack of power and you have to constantly shift gears to keep the motor on the boil. With power tapering off as early as 3800rpm, you have a very small powerband to play with and the Pulse’s performance is a far cry from the likes of the Swift. Our timing equipment confirms this — the car takes a leisurely 16.2 seconds to reach 100kph. The motor is quite refined though; it settles into quiet idle and only sounds gruff when worked hard.

What is also very impressive is the Pulse’s ride quality. It competently absorbs rough sections and bad roads thanks to its pliant suspension and tyres. There’s very little bobbing, the suspension works silently and this allows you to drive over rough patches without a care.

Straightline stability is surprisingly impressive. Due to the soft suspension, there is some body roll but the baby Renault is a very neat handler. The steering is really light and comfortable at city speeds and it offers decent feedback on the highway too.

Interior design is exactly the same as the Micra’s and the oval and rounded theme is carried over. You get a round cluster of buttons on the central console, round vents and a round steering boss. There is good amount of space for odds and ends and the door pockets are of a decent size. At the back, headroom and legroom are surprisingly generous and you also get adjustable rear headrests. The only grouse we have with the rear seat is that it’s too low and flat, with not enough under-thigh support. The boot too is fairly generous and the seats fold down, but there’s no split.

The top-end RxZ model we’re driving comes loaded with features, with the notable absence of a passenger airbag, which we would have liked at this price. It also eschews a traditional key for a smart fob and a starter button. Renault also offers climate control and electrically folding mirrors on higher variants. The interior quality isn’t brilliant but it’s good enough for the class.

The Pulse is a very well rounded package and its striking exterior design could win hearts too. It rides and handles well, the torquey motor makes it extremely easy to drive and the spacious and practical interiors just add to the overall package. If they price it right, the Pulse may be the key to making Renault a household name in India.

Fact File

Price Range (in lakhs)*

Ex-showroom price Rs 6.17 lakh (est. ex-shorrom, Delhi)

Engine

Fuel Diesel
Installation Front, Transverse
Power 63bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 16.3 kgm at 4000rpm

Transmission

Gearbox 5-speed manual

Dimensions

Length 3805mm
Width 1665mm
Height 1525mm
Wheel base 2450mm

Chassis & Body

Weight 1070kg

Performance

0-20 1.56sec
0-40 3.77sec
0-60 6.35sec
0-80 10.43sec
0-100 16.20sec
0-120 25.17sec

Economy

Tank size 41 litres
See more about:  pulse, renault, review, test, drive, auto, expo, expo, auto, 2012, nissan, micra, maruti, swift

notSet

All the exciting new SUVs that will be on our roads in the near future, and we prove that going green doesn’t have to be boring. Check out the May 2015 issue today!
What's in this issue?

Most Read
Find a car review

Latest Car Reviews

Jaguar XE review, test drive

Jaguar XE review, test drive

12 hours ago
After a wait that seemed way too long, Jaguar's flag-bearer model, the XE...
New Audi Q7 review, test drive

New Audi Q7 review, test drive

Apr 13, 2015
Sleeker, lighter and a better performer, Audi’s new capable Q7 seems a...
Tata Zest long term review first report

Tata Zest long term review first report

Apr 13, 2015
Tata’s new sedan finds a spot in our fleet. And it’s off to a...
Volvo XC60, S60 Drive-E review, test drive

Volvo XC60, S60 Drive-E review, test drive

Apr 4, 2015
The XC60 and S60 now come with Volvo’s latest-gen diesel engine and...
2014 Audi R8 V10 plus review, test drive

2014 Audi R8 V10 plus review, test drive

Apr 4, 2015
The range-topper of the current Audi R8 models delivers huge performance,...
Latest News
Tata Nano GenX bookings open
Nano GenX gets openable hatch, AMT gearbox option and a bigger fuel tank.
8 hours ago   1 picture
Analysis: Indian government re-recognises motorsport
Certainly a step forward in the right direction, but isn’t enough and...
13 hours ago   1 picture
10 things about the Ducati Monster 821
The Monster 821 is on sale at Rs 9.60 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Here are a...
14 hours ago   7 pictures
Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch resigns
Ferdinand Piëch resigns; was expected to stay till the end of this...
14 hours ago   1 picture
SCOOP! Hyundai and Renault to use AMT tech
Hyundai and Renault will use the ZF Sachs AMT gearbox. Hyundai Grand i10 and...
15 hours ago   1 picture

Autocar Magazine

Issue: 188 | Autocar India: May 2015

All the exciting new SUVs that will be on our roads in the near future, and we prove that going green doesn’t have to be boring. Check out the May 2015 issue today!
Autocar Magazine