Driven #12: Renault Pulse


Inspite of entering quite a few years back, the French car manufacturer Renault has not had a smooth sailing in the Indian market till date. Logan, the company's first model for India launched in partnership with Mahindra failed miserably and left both the manufacturers with bad tastes. Renault then started its offensive afresh in 2011 with the Fluence and Koleos. Despite being competent, both the models didn't take off owing to their premium pricing strategies. Moreover, Renault didn't have a hatchback in its portfolio which is where all the action lies in the Indian market.

Until now, that is. Nissan, Renault's global alliance partner has the Micra that is made here in Chennai and exported to many other countries. Renault wasn't prepared to waste time, efforts and money and therefore took the easy option of rebadging the Micra and selling it under its own brand name. Thus was born the Pulse. So, is Renault all set to enter the big league finally? We drive the car to find out the answer.


Other than Renault instructing its engineers not to play around much with the design of the Micra, we just couldn't think of any other reason for the Pulse to look so similar to its cousin from Japan. Seriously, the Pulse is nothing more than a Micra with few styling tweaks here and there and nothing else. But, to be honest, the changes that have been made, though few and far between, have given the car a new-found attitude and character.

Up front, the larger trapezoidal grille and the split air-dam gives the car an aggressive and sporty stance that the Micra doesn't possess. The scoops at the corners of the front and rear bumpers,  the ridge along the sides, the new taillight lenses and the diffuser-like plastic insert in the rear bumper complete the list of changes. The positioning of 'Pulse' badge and the beautifully shaped alloy wheels only add to the overall visual appeal of the car.

Renaults worldwide are known for their quirky designs that grabs eyeballs, not for the right reasons at times. The Pulse comes nowhere close in terms of quirkiness but it looks good nevertheless.

If you were expecting things to be different from the Micra inside, you will be shocked beyond belief. Every single button, knob and switch excepting the logo in the steering wheel are a direct lift from the Micra. What has changed for the better is the color of the plastics. The mid-level RxL variant comes with 'plum and black' interiors while the top-end RxZ comes with 'greige' (mix of grey and beige) interiors. The build quality is good but not in the league of Honda Jazz, which is still the segment benchmark.

Unlike the exteriors where Renault's designers have infused some masculinity to the Pulse, the interiors still look and feel cartoonish. Almost everything that you set your eyes on, like the air vents and climate control system for instance, are circular or oval in shape. The chrome door handles are beautifully shaped though and lends a touch of class to the cabin. Driver Airbag is standard while passenger airbag is optional on both the variants. What is unpardonable though is the lack of ABS, even as an option.


The Pulse is powered by the same 1.5-liter K9K diesel engine that powers the Micra, Sunny and Logan. With a maximum power of 63 bhp and a torque of 160 Nm on offer, the engine is not the best in terms of refinement, especially in the higher revs. The smooth power delivery with zero turbo lag and eager low-end half-throttle responses make congested city driving a breeze. Mid-range is good but the lack of power becomes increasingly evident as you hit triple digit speeds in the highway.

The ride is good and the Pulse absorbs most bumps and potholes without much of a fuss. The steering that is super-light in the city weighs up nicely as speeds build up, aiding in composed handling at all speeds, both inside the city and out on the open highway. This, combined with the brilliant high-speed stability makes the Pulse a good highway cruiser. Braking is only adequate though, with the spongy brake pedal taking time to respond. Absence of ABS do not help things here and it is high time manufacturers start giving this basic safety feature as standard.


* Engine Type: SOHC, 8-Valves, K9K dCi
* No of Cylinders: 4
* Displacement: 1461 cc
* Maximum Power: 64 PS @ 4000 RPM
* Maximum Torque: 160 Nm @ 2000 RPM
* Transmission Type: 5-speed MT
* Tires: 175/60 R15 (RxZ)
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)


* Smooth, powerful and efficient K9K Engine
* Composed Ride and Handling
* Brilliant city-driving characteristics


* Lack of ABS and spongy brakes
* Thin dealer network
* Limited variants on offer


Look at it as a rebadged Nissan Micra and the Renault Pulse doesn't make sense. But look at it as a similarly-equipped, better-looking and less-pricey variant of the Micra and it suddenly starts making sense. Except for Renault's relatively poor image compared to Nissan and thinner dealer network, we really do not see any genuine reason for the Pulse to sell less than the Micra. And before we forget to answer, yes, Renault finally has a model that is capable of catapulting the brand into the big league.


  1. Nice car Aravind and an excellent review.

  2. Tks man, but the fact is most of Anything On Wheels' reviews are incomplete without the awesome snaps that you take..

  3. Hi Aravind,
    What is max speed at highway upto which speed we can handle.

    1. Hi shiva, the road conditions in which we tested the Pulse allowed us to get to a speed of around 125 km/h. As stated in the review, the Pulse has a great low and mid-range while it loses its steam once you get past 110 km/h.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. We don't think the Pulse will do anything good for Renault. It has failed to click in the market.

  5. Pulse will definitely set a revolution on Indian Roads