Renault Pulse Review
Aggressive HatchbackWednesday, June 5, 2013
A new concept has entered Indian car market, it’s known as rebadging. It means selling a one car under different brand names. We have seen before, cars sharing platform and engines but that can’t be referred as rebadging because they are different in terms of body panels and interiors. Rebadged cars are almost identical to each other in every aspect. It’s the way of saving money and time for those auto giants which have multiple brands. It’s always costly and time consuming to develop a whole new car. In other international markets, it’s a regular practice but it’s new for Indians. The French car makers, Renault have introduced this concept in India. Renault has launched a hatchback known as Pulse which is nothing else than an altered version of its alliance Nissan’s Micra. After the failure of Logan in India, Renault aims to reach the largest segment of buyers in India with Pulse. Will this car set a new trend of badge engineering in India or will it be just another hatch to populate the segment, let’s find out.
Renault Pulse Exterior
Nissan’s Micra has not much succeeded in our market and the major contributor to its failure is its styling. Majority of people feels that Micra looks cute and pretty. It feels more feminine and undoubtedly Indian buyers are mainly men so the car doesn’t appeal them much. Renault has taken care of this fact and they have added the manly character to Pulse which was badly missing in Micra. The way Renault has differentiated Pulse from Micra is commendable especially from its front. Pulse looks much more aggressive than Micra; the biggest changes are made to its headlights and bumper grille. The headlights are edgy and pointing which along with newly crafted bumper grille gives it a new dimension. The bonnet is similar to Micra ending much before the radiator grille.
Its big front bumper is specially revised to make it look aerodynamic. However its bumper grille resembles to the hexagonal grille used in Hyundai i10 as it also uses a lot of black color. There is a thin chrome finished lining which is in the middle of Renault’s big logo and its number plate. The small fog lights are now housed inside the air dam which looks very nice and charismatic. Nothing much has changed on the sides, the top model features body color door handles and side mirrors with no inbuilt turn indicators. Base model is available with R14 size of tyres while the top model has 15 inch alloy wheels which along with those noticeable wheel arches improve the side stance of this car. Rear of the car has simple boot gate and door handle fitted with stylish wiper and integrated spoiler with brake light. Tail lights are rearranged with clear lens. The rear bumper is also given the touch of black color with nice lines on it.
Whats different in Renault Pulse in comparison to Nissan Micra
Renault Pulse features New front and rear bumper, New head lights and tail lights, New round fog lamps, New steering wheel, New front grille and alloy wheels and Renault logo on hatch and front grille.
Whats same in Renault Pulse and Nissan Micra
Both are manufactured in same factory located in Chennai, Based on same V-platform to keep the costs down, Share same suspension, 5 speed gearbox, same petrol and diesel engines, instrument cluster and central console, front and rear seats, door handles and tyres, rear-view mirrors, doors, bonnet and hatch.
Fast Facts about Renault Pulse
- Renault Pulse is based on Nissan Micra’s Platform
- Unique 2+2 year warranty (first for a car in this class)
- The codename of Renault Pulse project was B58
- It shares most of the exterior and interior parts with Nissan Micra
- The engines are same which powers the Micra petrol and diesel
- Unveiled by Carlos Ghosn at 1st Indian Grand Prix in Noida
- Diesel engine’s displacement is 1.5 litre, 64 bhp power, 160 nm torque
- Petrol engine’s displacement is 1.2 litre, 75 bhp power, 104 nm torque
- Available in six shades: Champagne Gold, Metallic Grey, Metallic Red, Metallic Silver, Pearl White and Solid Black
- Is manufactured in India where Micra is manufactured
- Renault Pulse is the first small car to be awarded with a 5-star Euro NCAP rating
- Available in seven variants - RxE petrol, RxL petrol, RxZ petrol and four diesel variants: RxL, RxZ, RxL Option and RxZ Option
- The option variants of diesel comes with dual airbags - driver + passenger
Renault Pulse Interior
Renault Pulse is a carbon copy of Micra from inside. Except the color changes there is nothing new inside. Pulse uses dark grey shade inside. The familiar three spoke steering wheel now sports a big Renault logo on it with unique finishing on gear knob. Both steering wheel and gear knob are wrapped in leather which is nice to touch and hold. The quality of fabric and plastic used inside is very satisfactory. The door trims are fabricated inside with nice fit and finish. You will find a round shaped instrument cluster with a tachometer and on board trip computer. Interior styling is not a let-down but it doesn’t appeal you that much as some of its competitors looks very fresh and up market when compared to it.
Comfort and Convenience
Renault Pulse is a very comfortable car according to its size. Front legroom and headroom is optimum with tilt-able power steering. Driver’s seat is not height adjustable. The seats are very comfy especially the front seats although its rear seats offer less under thigh support. Front and rear seats get adjustable headrests. With full seating of five, rear passengers might find their shoulders rubbing to each other and tall passengers may complain about the headroom at the back. For your convenience, the car has front and rear power windows with one touch up and down function (driver side only). It also has auto fold/unfold mirrors by remote sense with electrically adjustable outside mirrors in top model. Similar to Micra, Pulse also has engine start/stop illuminated button with keyless entry and central locking. Its top model features a manual AC with heater and automatic climate control. For better visibility the car comes with follow me type headlights and rear defogger with timer. Other features include headlamp on, key off reminder, smart access key for all doors and key answer back function.
Dashboard and Storage
Renault Pulse has a familiar dashboard of Micra with different color. This dashboard is grey in color with most of the things on it being round in shape. For example round AC vents and circular Centre console. The plastic quality and texture on it feels premium. Centre console and AC vents are brushed with silver color to make it look different than Micra. We wish if Renault had repositioned the centre console as it looks boring in round shape. There is no storage space on this dashboard except a glove box. However door pockets are of good size with two front and one rear cup holders. It also has a bottle holder. Renault has managed to increase the boot capacity of Pulse in comparison to Micra. It has a boot capacity of 251 litres, which is quite acceptable for its segment. Rear seats do fold down but they don’t split.
Music System of Renault Pulse
Top model of Renault Pulse features an integrated music system in its central console. It’s a CD, MP3 player with radio and Aux-in port. It also has 4 speakers. There is no Bluetooth connectivity in it. Steering mounted controls are also absent which are expected at this price. There is a 12V accessory socket at its front for direct connectivity of your music gadgets.
Engine and Gearbox
Similar to Micra, Renault has also offered Pulse with two different engines and fuel options. The petrol motor is a DOHC 12 Valve, 3cylinder engine. This 1.2L engine is specially designed for this small car. It churns out a maximum power of 75 bhp at 6000 rpm and it manages to pull out a torque amount of 104 Nm coming at 4000 rpm. The K9K dci engine also powers this car. Many cars in the Renault-Nissan family use this engine. It’s a 1.5L, 4 cylinder common rail diesel engine. This engine has been tuned for this car in order to make it more fuel efficient. This engine produces relatively less power than other cars using this same engine. The maximum power and torque output of this engine is 64 bhp and 160 Nm which are achievable at 4000 and 2000 rpm respectively. Both engines are mated with 5-speed manual gearbox.
Acceleration and Performance
The 3cylinder petrol unit on this car is much better than what it looks on paper. This engine feels very refined and enthusiastic. The absence of one cylinder doesn’t affect much on its performance. Push the start button; press the throttle and the car feels ready to go. Due to 4 valves per cylinder and DOHC it feels very relaxed engine. Even when you rev hard this engine, it’s not much audible. It sounds much better than the 3 cylinder engine used in Polo as it makes less noise and Vibrations. The gearing is very accurate in this car and with its light weight, it has a big advantage. The power to weight ratio is very impressive and the car feels very responsive. Though it’s far behind the benchmark set by Suzuki’s K series and Hyundai’s Kappa2 engine but it’s certainly better than some of its competitors. It will take you just over 13 seconds to reach 100km/hour from standstill with this car and it can easily go pass the speed of 140km/hr. The diesel motor is also very refined and stable.
This engine has always been mated well with every car. Renault has tuned this engine for city driving and it’s quite evident as it low and mid-range offers much of its power. The light weight here also comes in to play and improves it performance. There is minimal turbo lag in this car and once pass 2000 rpm, it’s very smooth till 3000 rpm.After that there is not much power as the car starts to suffocate. Power delivery is very linear and allows you to push it hard but this engine is a bit noisy. It’s not as silent as Fiat’s Multijet engine but it’s less audible than others. Refinement level is very satisfactory. It’s a good city car as due to its light weight, you don’t feel the lack of power and torque but as soon as you hit the highways, the story changes. You will find it hard to run along the cars like Swift, Ritz and i20 as their high range is much powerful than Pulse. It does 0-100 in less than 17 seconds with a top speed of 145km/hr. It’s not the best in this department but these figures are quite respectable.
Renault Pulse Mileage
The petrol engine will return you a mileage of around 13km/ltr in city while on highways it can return around 15-16km/ltr. The diesel engines is more fuel efficient and expect it to give a fuel efficiency of around 15km/ltr in city conditions and on highways it will give you around 18-19km/ltr. Both engines are fuel efficient and the figures seem to be in the favour of Renault Pulse.
Ride and Handling
Its steering with a turning radius of 4.6m is the best in its segment. It’s a perfect car in city traffic as it fits well everywhere, this steering is very responsive and light. Suspension is especially suited for this car and it works really well. Not much noise inside even after heavy bumps. There is minor body roll around corners as its light in weight and suspension is also on the soft side. But thanks to its wheelbase and R15 size of tyres, Renault Pulse manages well at high speeds and firmly holds the road.
Braking and Safety Features
Renault Pulse has disk brakes at its front with drum brakes at the back. It also comes equipped with ABS and EBD (top variants). The top variant features Driver side airbag with optional airbag for passenger side which means you have to pay more for that. Other safety features include immobilizer and speed sensing auto door lock.
Renault Pulse Variants
Renault Pulse is available in seven variants - RxE petrol, RxL petrol, RxZ petrol and four diesel variants: RxL, RxL Option, RxZ and RxZ Option. The option variant of diesel Pulse comes with 2 airbags - driver + passenger.
Renault Pulse is available in six shades: Champagne Gold, Metallic Grey, Metallic Red, Metallic Silver, Pearl White and Solid Black.
Warranty of Renault Pulse
Renault offers Pulse with a unique 2+2 years warranty which is first in its class.
We feel Renault has overpriced this car. Pulse also lacks many features which are expected at this price. Had it been priced smartly then things would have been interesting. Right now, at this price there are many other cars which are more powerful, refined and spacious offering many features. It loses out to king of its segment; Swift in almost every aspect. In fact Swift is cheaper than Pulse. It’s not strikingly different from Nissan Micra. So basically; Renault is asking you to spend more money on Micra for small cosmetic changes. With poor reputation and service network in India, we are afraid if Renault will be able to get the trusted and loyal buyers of Maruti Suzuki Swift. At this price we don’t think it’s a complete value for money car .Though it may appeal to those who don’t visually like Micra and want to try something different than Swift.