Hello, welcome to Chennai. You might want to drop that garden hose in your hand if you were just about to soak your lovely car wet, before the lynch mob gets to you. If your Sunday mornings are defined by the time spent hosing down your car gleaming wet, shampooing her up and then wiping her down, you might have to seriously consider moving. I tried once, washing my car with a hose, and the stares that burnt holes through my body still serve as reminders that people realize water is precious, very, very precious. Though the typical ‘conservative’ Chennaiite might not immediately go for your throat, there is always the possibility that they, er.. we, might try.
Obligatory tangential information dispensed with in the previous paragraph, let’s get down to the crux of the matter. Having been denied the pleasure of hosing down the car, a bucket of water and very wet cloth in hand, I was wiping down the Renault Pulse minutes before heading off for the photoshoot. In that poetic moment when the sun was just rising from behind a cluster of really tall buildings, I realized there wasn’t a better way to ‘see’ how the design of the Pulse is different from the Micra. As I ran the wash cloth over the angled planes on the hood, the edges of the hexagonal grille, the honeycomb pattern set further in from the edges of the grille, the prominent lip at the front end bottom and the wicked alloys, I realized the Pulse was a beast with a different temperament, as far as exterior styling goes. Stunning work by the cool chaps at Renault’s Design Centre in Mumbai.
The Renault Nissan Alliance has been working wonders for either brand with the Alliance selling a record 8,029,222 units world over in 2011, a 10.3% increase from 2010. The Alliance shares a number of platforms including the B platform, used for Nissan’s Note, Juke and Renault’s Clio III, Modus. The much anticipated SUV from Renault, the Duster is built on a derived platform called B0. The C platform was initially designed for the Mégane II and is now shared by the Nissan Qashqai. The C platform is also shared by two premium Renault products in India, the Fluence and the Koleos. The latest platform would of course be the V-Platform where V stands for versatile. This is the latest platform developed by the Alliance and is what the Renault Pulse is built on.
Renault and Nissan also have drafted something they call the Interchangeable Components Policy (ICP). The policy enables the use of identical components on models based on different platforms. This simple shared use of components led to some 50 million Euros saved in 2009, says the Alliance. Taking all this into consideration, Renault’s strategy of developing its third entrant into the Indian market, based on an existing model from the Nissan lineup makes sense.
The V-Platform, and what it means for either brands in the future, is something we have our eyes on. Now, let me just give you the highlights.
- The aim is to deliver optimum rigidity for excellent handling without compromising on the ride, but at the lowest possible weight
- Key elements are strength and lightness
- Results expected : enhanced performance, good fuel efficiency and low emissions
Over the course of the next few pages we delve into how exactly these were implemented in the Pulse.
Now, back to the design. The roof has a twin set of deep grooves shaped like a boomerang. These roof line grooves work to reduce resonance in the cabin, reducing noise at all speeds. These grooves also work with the built in lip spoiler to reduce drag. The curvy side window shape is signature Micra and though there’s a chance you might get away with it in India, back in Japan and Europe people identify the Micra with this particular curve.
The rear has the prominent Renault lozenge as well as the well spaced letters that spell PULSE. The space cut out from the rear bumper for the number plate, is much bigger on the Pulse and adds to the aggression at the rear. Conspicuous by its absence is the black request button on the boot lid that would unlock the boot when pressed, if you had the key fob in your pocket.
Having spent quite some time with the car, I can assure you, that you would be hard pressed to find a car in this segment that is easier to live with than the Pulse. Tilt adjustable steering is available on both variants, and works like a charm. Speed Auto Lock on the Pulse is something the Micra doesn’t have. Drive over 15kph and the doors lock themselves.
Rear wiper and washer is standard on both RxL and RxZ variants whereas rear defogger with timer is available only on the RxZ version. While the RxL version gets 165/70 spec tyres on 14 inch steel wheels with full wheel caps, the RxZ version gets the wicked looking 15 inch alloys with 175/60 section spec tyres.
Automatic climate control system, front fog lamps, and the Smart Access key are available only on the RxZ version. The Smart Access Key, might have 10 year-olds like us going ga-ga ( that isn’t trademarked now, is it?) over it but may not be the primary reason why most customers would buy a Pulse. We have to point out though, after getting used to the comfort of not having to remove the key at all from your pocket, if God forbid you switch cars, you might actually have to go through a phase of depression. It’s just that convenient and addictive.
The black request button on the door handle lets you lock and unlock the doors as long as the key is in the proximity of the car. After being pampered so much, you cannot fault us for wishing the boot would also unlock itself when you have the key in your pocket and hands full of groceries or photography equipment. Nevertheless, it isn’t too difficult again to press the black button on either front doors and then pop the boot.
With one new gadget comes the requirement for another. The presence of the Smart Access Key requires an additional alarm. This alarm goes off when the car is still in ignition and you walk away from the car, 3 feet to be precise. Ignore the alarm at your own peril and watch the ‘Immobilzer’ kick into action and the engine shut down.
On the topic of alarms, I cannot emphasize how much I hate the door open alarm. This is the ubiquitous alarm that you would find in every other clock manufactured from the land of the Great Wall. When it goes beep-bip-beep-bip-pause-beep-bip-beep-bip you cannot help but think of that morning when all you wanted to do was flick the alarm off the table and through the open window, but all you could do was press snooze and beg nobody in particular for a couple of more minutes of sleep.
There is one other alarm that goes off if you forget to disengage the handbrake when you set off.
A very mothering car, if I may say so.