Renault Fluence: Tried and tested
In its updated avatar, the Renault Fluence fuses elegant design with more features and comfort to suit the Indian customer better. Will it work this time?
in its previous iteration, the unconventional Fluence managed to impress many, but unfortunately didn’t sell too well. For the facelift, Renault asserts that the car has been thoroughly re-designed with the Indian customer’s preferences in mind. Have the French really decoded the Sub-D-segment success formula with this one? Let’s find out.
The new 2014 Renault Fluence is a facelift, which means the basic lines and proportions of the car remain unchanged. For a car as tastefully designed as the Fluence, this can never be a bad thing.
Fluence’s instrument cluster is dashing as ever. The gearshift icon in the tachometer has an up or down arrow flashing next to it, suggesting whether you should up-shift or down-shift for optimum efficiency and performance
In its newest version, the Fluence gets a new front grille with the big Renault logo positioned over a glossy black frame and flanked by two elegant, horizontally positioned chrome bars. Another impactful, and easily noticeable change to the face of the car is the inclusion of the new parallelogram shaped fog lamp housings lined with chrome, and incorporating beautifully design daytime running LEDs.
The backseat is plush and comfortable with good under-thigh support. Passengers at the back also get A/C vents and a central armrest with dual cup-holders
Inside the cabin, the Fluence features a two-tone dashboard with a brownish grey top and beige lower scheme. Just like the exterior, the interior of the Fluence has always looked elegant and different, and the sophisticated feel has only improved with the facelift. The seats, gear-knob and steering wheels have all been draped in new and better quality hide.
The finish of the dashboard is immaculate. The steering wheel features cruise control buttons on top, with audio-related buttons hidden underneath to the right
The instrument console remains unchanged, with the stylish central display showing speed, fuel gauge and engine temperature along with door-open icon. It is flanked by an analogue tacho on the left and a digital Multi Information Display (MID) on the right which offers very useful information including average consumption and distance to dry.
The centre console is also home to a two-zone automatic climate control system with three air-flow modes — Soft, Auto and Fast. The buttons on the centre console are too small, and one often ends up inadvertently pressing undesired buttons.
Seats are big, plush and comfortable. The driver’s seat features lumbar support as well as height adjustment. Front seats also have special head-rests with adjustable recline angle for better protection against whiplash injuries. Rear seats are extremely comfortable too.
The feature list is liberal, and the top-of-the-line E4 variants come with goodies such as front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, ESP, four airbags, push button start/stop, Arkemys 3D surround audio, auto headlamps and wiper, anti pinch windows, and a whole army of other features.
Performance and handling
The Fluence is powered by a 1.5 litre inline four-cylinder turbo diesel engine with 110PS of peak power output and 240 Nm of peak torque. While those aren’t very impressive numbers for the segment the car falls into, the Fluence still manages to move forward with confidence once it hits the meat of the torque curve. There is a bit of turbo lag to be experienced below 1,800 rpm, and you would need to play with the shifter stick a bit more than desired in stop start city traffic.
The positive side of the engine is its silky refinement, and the low NVH levels. There is hardly any noise inside the cabin as the car is doing a low 2,000-2,500 rpm and cruising away happily at 120 km/h in 6th gear. Like most French cars, the suspension is tuned well, and offers a flat, composed ride.
The steering wheel on the car is very well weighed, and unlike some other cars in the segment, offers good feel and feedback. There is a bit of body roll, but there’s nothing to complain about for an everyday car.
The Fluence has its sophistication, understated elegance, quality interiors and a healthy list of features going for it. Those who like good automotive designs are sure to get impressed by this beautiful exponent of French design. The car is priced competitively for the segment and is liberally equipped even on the base variant. On the downside, a bigger engine would have done better justice to the segment this car represents. A more linear power delivery graph would also have made this car more city-friendly.
The Fluence, then, is not for those who are looking for a grandiose exterior, or gimmicky features inside the cabin. It’s a classy piece of design, with a very good set of features that would really keep you comfortable inside the cabin. If you have a refined taste in cars, this one should tug at your heart strings.
Renault Fluence E2: Rs 13.99 lakh
Renault Fluence E4: Rs 15.49 lakh
Bells and whistles
>> Four airbags
>> Electronic stability programme
>> Anti-slip regulation
>> Arkamys surround sound audio
>> Cruise control
>> Rain sensing wipers/ automatic headlamps
>> Engine start/stop button