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Old 6th February 2012, 21:06   #1
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Default First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

CROSS POLLINATION

First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI-20120206-17.03.01.jpg
Life is like a dice.
The situation in our life is always dicey. Sometimes the throw hits a six, sometimes you just have to be satisfied with a one...er..sometimes, two.

The law of duality has affected our lives since stone age. Like I said, behind the success of one sex, lies the success of another sex.

But, can a cross pollination really result in an affair to remember?

First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI-20120206-17.04.07.jpg

In this case, lies the french connection. In fact, more deeper connection than Mr. Bean would have ever imagined.

Back in 2010, Nissan asked Renault-you give me the engine, I'll give you the body. Fast forward to a pulse-ating new year 2012, there's an anti climax scripted by the crew of uttaran.
Renault asks Nissan-you gimme the body, I'll give you more engines in return.
Somewhere in D'wallen, a script is shot and the final product is made-for-India Renault Pulse.

First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI-20120206-17.03.46.jpg

When the car was showcased on Oct 30, opinions were frighteningly strong. Some called it a micra with a french beard, some called it a male micra and what not? Some people even went to the extent of calling it a crossbreed. A victim of badge engineering.

And that's what it actually is. Building a common car on a same platform with minor modifications results in actual savings in terms of huge input costs plus provides with economies of scale. Indian's haven't really taken to the concept of cross pollination so easily. But is paying a premium for the french connection justified?

First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI-20120206-17.02.10.jpg

Come front and the car looks much improved, errr...masculine. The cirrent Micra looked way to feminish and was a hit especially with ladies. To appeal to people using fair and handsome's creamy faces, Renault' design studio carried out suitable modifications to the car's headlamps and redesigned the front bumpers. A more prominent moustache adorns the huge renault diamond logo and gels well with the front bodystyle, giving it a balanced stance. The sides are pure micra, save for the different design alloy wheels to give the car a more aggressive stance. The rear is changed, though and breaks the monotonous tone with a dual tone rear bumper and different set of taillights.

First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI-20120206-17.03.34.jpg

Available in two variants with standard driver airbag and optional passenger airbag, the pulse starts from north of 5.7 lakh and goes all the way upto 6.3 odd lakh for the top end RXZ version. Quite high price for the french toast. ABS sadly isn't offered as standard, nor an option which would have justified the high premium. The base model gets a plum and black dashboard as compared to the greige colour scheme of the RXZ.

The overall seating comfort and posture is mediocre with the seats being on the softer side, under thigh support is lacking though lower back support is above average.

First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI-20120206-17.05.21.jpg

The rockstar of this package is undoubtedly, the K9K engine. Endorsed by the rockstar (pun intended) himself, the engine is by far the most user friendly diesel ever driven in a hatchback. Absolutely close to zero turbo lag, the eager motor spins to 80 in no time, progresses to 110 and then is even stronger at top end. On the open panipat-karnal stretch during a lame day, the car crossed 150 with ease before we ran out of road. The motor sounds gruff at low speeds but as speeds build up, you forget that you are piloting a diesel vehicle. The gear ratios are well spaced, and the motor is extremely user friendly in the city, something which is so good for our congested roads. Quoted power of 65 bhp is something of an understatement. At the highway, just press the throttle at 4th gear and whoosh, the car surges ahead without any hiccup.

As good as the motor is, its the steering that's the let down. Make no mistake, it feels connected to the chassis but doesn't inspire confidence at high speed in a way some similar competitors like the figo, swift and punto do. The higher you go, the better control and concentration has to be done to keep the car planted at the road.

But perhaps, the single biggest drawback of the mechanical package are the brakes. For a car that's got a chassis capable of handling a strong motor, the brakes just don't inspire confidence. Pedal feel is just lacking, and braking has to be planned in advance to avoid any obstacles. Brake fade is instantly noticeable and the stoppage distances are alarmingly long. ABS is the need of the hour and the spongy feeling brake pedal needs to be addressed on a priority.

First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI-20120206-17.03.22.jpg

Overall, as a package, there are many things to be liked-quality, fit and finish, user friendliness, space and average comfort, engine's calibration and fuel efficiency and urban friendly nature.

But, as a package, it still falls short. Optimistic pricing, poor brakes, no ABS, high speed stability and steering feel are the Achilles heal. Renault's dealership network is very few and far between, but its service packages and 4 year warranty cannot be ignored.
Besides, the K9K is a reliable and proven workhorse. And Micra DCI owners are mostly a satisfied lot with their product.

First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI-20120206-17.04.30.jpg

But perhaps....is cross pollination really the need of the hour?
Only time will tell.....
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Old 6th February 2012, 21:34   #2
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Other than the lure of the engine, which seems to be delicious, didnt find anything that will set the charts on fire. Maybe they (OEM) are not expecting that either. But thanks for the TD and the report.
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Old 6th February 2012, 22:00   #3
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

It remains to be seen how successful the concept of launching same cars (with some make-up) becomes. Pulse-Micra and Rapid-Vento should logically end up cannibalizing each others' sales more than anything else. The separate Ad-budgets with only slightly incremental (total of both variants) sales might just cancel out each other to some extent.
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Old 7th February 2012, 12:18   #4
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Thanks for a short review. The ride quality was not that much great and the road noise was more inside. In most of the reviews the driveability and the engine performance were praised and your review confirms the same.

Price and Warranty will decide the winner between Nissan and Renault. Is Renault negotiating with M&M for Verito chassis/body .
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Old 7th February 2012, 12:48   #5
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

The comfort and convenience of keyless entry and start is quite something. To have the key in your pocket and not take it out - awesome.

But they should have provided ABS, as of now the braking is quite poor. Yes i did a TD and left quite a bit of tyre on the road on hard braking from 80kmph. The steering was held dead straight, didnt have the guts to turn the wheel which could have unsettled the car.
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Old 7th February 2012, 12:58   #6
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Must admit the car looks pretty plain jane as compared to the Auto Expo (Mumbai) sometime in Oct 2011. Renault had a sports edition showcased in yellow with a great set of alloys. Agree this would have been CBU but it didn't resemble its cousin (micra).

The Indian version though lacking the frills looks nothing but a new body with a micra pot. This reminds me of A-star (no offense to owners. opinion is personal).
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Old 7th February 2012, 13:56   #7
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Understand they have only sold 746 units in Jan 2012. Looks like it would tread behind the Micra in sales!
Unlike the VW - Skoda badges which both are known in India, Renault is relatively lesser known in India to create that hype!

Cheers!
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Old 7th February 2012, 15:37   #8
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Good short review sidindica.

I cannot fathom Renault making the same mistake as Nissan by leaving out ABS in this car. Why could they not learn a lesson from Nissan and launch a complete package? Just proves that manufacturers take the Indian market for granted. Atleast ABS could have been an option on the top variant a-la the Swift!

Zero turbo lag and good build quality are the strong points heavily let down by lack of ABS and the wafer thin dealer network. Don't see this car really making a dent in the hatch segment.
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Old 7th February 2012, 16:52   #9
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Great review Sid! Thank you for sharing.

I'm no fan of Renault's strategy in India, and do think they have a poor understanding of our marketplace. Remember the Fluence diesel being initially launched in a trim level that can be compared to a base Indigo

That said, I quite like the Pulse. The face looks far better than the Micra's feminine love-me-or-hate-me look. The Pulse also has quality interiors, a great engine, some nice gizmos (pure keyless start & go) and is effortless to drive in the city. Sure, highway behaviour is mediocre, but then the i10 would never have been the sales success that it is if the Indian customer cared about "high speed stability". These are meant to be city cars and the Nissan Micra / Renault Pulse do a damn good job of that. Remember, the fuel efficiency from this motor is also astoundingly good.

My single complaint with the diesel Pulse (and Micra) are the brakes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by volkman10 View Post
Understand they have only sold 746 units in Jan 2012. Looks like it would tread behind the Micra in sales!
It's only the first month of factory despatches. Also, Renault doesn't (yet) have the dealership reach of Nissan (which is pretty small by itself).
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Old 7th February 2012, 17:09   #10
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Quote:
That said, I quite like the Pulse. The face looks far better than the Micra's feminine love-me-or-hate-me look. The Pulse also has quality interiors, a great engine, some nice gizmos
Sid Interior pictures would complement the great first drive report. Hope would follow.
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Old 7th February 2012, 17:49   #11
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

1. Serious identity crisis for a layman or a car noob to judge whether it is a Micra or a Pulse unless one sees the logo at the back.

2. Poor braking and to add woes to that no ABS offered not even in the top version. I don't no what Renault was thinking.

3. Nissan's Dealership is wafer thin, what do we called Renault's current Dealership size

4. Brilliant diesel engine for a hatch back with absolute zero turbo lag

5. Sid how was the steering feedback at high speeds ?

Last edited by driving_smartly : 7th February 2012 at 17:51.
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Old 8th February 2012, 11:58   #12
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Quote:
Originally Posted by volkman10 View Post
Understand they have only sold 746 units in Jan 2012. Looks like it would tread behind the Micra in sales!

Cheers!

This is also because many people believe in japaneese cars reliability and renault is french so they prefer a micra over pulse. I was advised by many to go for a TD of micra because pulse is french.

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Originally Posted by fuel_addict View Post

I cannot fathom Renault making the same mistake as Nissan by leaving out ABS in this car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by driving_smartly View Post

2. Poor braking and to add woes to that no ABS offered not even in the top version. I don't no what Renault was thinking.


Whenever i do a TD, I act like a complete noob on cars. Results are hilarious.
VW salesman was saying that the 1.6TDi on the vento was the same one on the jetta

Renault salesman was explaining to me how their 'research' has shown that ABS is not necessary in Indian conditions and that their 'brake boosters' is a technology superior to ABS.

Took a sudden brake and 25metres of rubber on the road to shut him up.

And ofcourse he had no answer to why the koleos and fluence come with the 'unnecessary ABS' and not the latest 'technology brake boosters'.

Last edited by revintup : 8th February 2012 at 11:59.
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Old 8th February 2012, 15:39   #13
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Nice Review Sid..!! Very informative. for a layman like me, it was a great decision making input. I am evaluating the hatchback segment for replacing my 6 years old Santro Xing Petrol, and your review was a very good help. Best wishes!!
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Old 8th February 2012, 16:16   #14
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Default Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Everyone seems to know that Micra has mediocre brakes and lifeless steering at high speeds,except for Renault.They should have paid attention it, better it and would have upper hand vis a vis Micra.

I am really disappointed once again by Renault-Nissan (Sunny has got same drawbacks).
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Old 9th February 2012, 21:35   #15
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Lightbulb Re: First Drive: Renault Pulse 1.5 DCI

Nice short review sidindica.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
Available in two variants with standard driver airbag and optional passenger airbag, the pulse starts from north of 5.7 lakh and goes all the way upto 6.3 odd lakh for the top end RXZ version. Quite high price for the french toast.
That's the point. They have priced it on the higher side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
The overall seating comfort and posture is mediocre with the seats being on the softer side, under thigh support is lacking though lower back support is above average.
The rear seats are utterly hopeless in under thigh support. Flat as a rubber chappal sole. No contouring, absolutely nothing whatsoever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
As good as the motor is, its the steering that's the let down. The higher you go, the better control and concentration has to be done to keep the car planted at the road.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
But perhaps, the single biggest drawback of the mechanical package are the brakes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
My single complaint with the diesel Pulse (and Micra) are the brakes.
I can completely relate with all these points. Anything above 110-120kmph, and the whole situation starts getting scary. The feather touch EPS, magnifies even minor undulations to such an extent that you really need to grip the steering tight. No ABS only worsens the situation Forget ABS, I say offer disc brakes as standard on the rear.

The good point in all this is that the build quality is quite good. I can say this from my Micra. So I think the build quality of the Pulse should also be good since the Pulse and the Micra are siblings (almost).
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