Mumbai has a very love it or loathe it character. Locals love it and outsiders absolutely abhor it. Despite having moved here two weeks ago I'm still very much an outsider. I blame my pessimism entirely on the traffic that I secretly fear is draining the joy out of my job. After a particularly white knuckled drive in a Range Rover recently I seriously pondered the feasibility of ever enjoying driving again.
The Renault Pulse managed to assuage some of my apprehensions by proving to be an absolute delight to drive in the city. This is no surprise considering the Pulse is heavily based on the Nissan Micra. Revisions to the exterior account for the bulk of the changes. The changes are subjective; some may like the larger gaping grille and refreshed headlights up front but I lean towards the cute jelly bean shaped Micra. Renault has tried to pump up the aggression quotient but I'm not entirely sold.
Mechanically, the car is nearly untouched. Which means you get the same Renault developed 1461cc K9K turbo diesel that's served in the Logan and Micra before this. This proven workhorse has a strong torque curve and the car pulls forward smoothly almost from idle while power comes in above 1500rpm. Ride quality, like the Micra is plush yet on the slightly stiff side. There's no crashiness but the firm setup does communicate large undulations in the road. That and the pleasantly light steering, compact dimensions make the Pulse a ridiculously easy and almost stress free to drive through the worst Mumbai has to offer.
It's the familiar circular grey plastics from the Micra inside as well. Though not classy the spunky interiors have plenty of space which is a big plus point. The top of the line RxZ we drove had a couple of nice touches like keyless start and electric folding mirrors. A driver airbag is standard and the passenger bag is optional however ABS is unfortunately not even an option.
The Pulse is old wine in a newish bottle but it tastes good nevertheless. It has been launched only in diesel option with two variants at the 2012 Auto Expo and prices start from Rs 5.7lakh. The RxZ which we drove costs Rs 6.25lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, Rs 70,000 lower than the equivalent Nissan Micra diesel.