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Driven: New Renault Fluence
Driven April 2014
With Duster being an exception, Renault hasn’t been able to make a mark with its cars in India. Not that the cars are any worse than the competition, but they haven’t had the visibility they deserve. The Fluence is a fine example of that. If you ask us, with its ride and handling characteristics, it’s much better than most of its competition.
Along with fine ride and handling characteristics, the Fluence was no dull boy if you talk about styling. Speaking of which, the new Fluence that you see above sports a whole lot of new styling bits that refreshes things after being in the market for two full years.
Majority of the changes in the Fluence have taken place at the front, and biggest one is the shape of the grille. It now looks more sporty, and classy at the same time. With the update, the Renault logo gets a more prominent place over the grille, and along with that, the headlamps too boast a change – they’re now projector type. Apart from these, the designers have splashed chrome at a few places and added matte finish in certain places like to the fog lamp housing.
The designers haven’t stopped after redesigning the front; they’re also looked at the interior to make the cabin plusher. The colour tone of the upholstery and dashboard has been changed and a bit of chrome has been splashed on the interior bits too.
The instrument cluster, that was already digital, now gets blue illumination that makes it look a bit funkier than it used to. The multimedia system now gets Aux and USB inputs along with Bluetooth connectivity. The multimedia system, just like the Duster, has a stalk behind the steering for the controls, which you may find a bit odd initially, but after getting used to it, is a breeze to use.
The cabin is spacious enough for five adults, but if you’re expecting acres of legroom at the back, you may have to look elsewhere.
Mechanically, the new Fluence is exactly identical to its earlier avatar. It gets the same 1.5-litre K9K dCi engine that you find in several Renault-Nissan cars. Here, it’s tuned to make 109bhp and 240Nm of torque. The USP of the engine is its fuel efficiency. Although we didn’t do a fuel run on this one, it claims 20.4kpl, which isn’t bad by any standards.
The engine feels a bit under-powered for the size of this car. An additional 10-15 horses would have been highly appreciated. The power delivery too isn’t perfect. You need to get past 1800 revs to get the blower in full action. In its previous form, the Fluence was available with a petrol engine too. But now, looking at the miniscule demand for it, Renault has discontinued it in our market.
Luckily, the gearbox that the engine is mated to has well-packed ratios. Six cogs mean that you can keep the engine at lower revs while cruising on the highway to boost efficiency.
The updated Fluence starts at Rs 13.98 lakh for the base variant and goes up to Rs 15.49 lakh (both ex-showroom, Mumbai) for the top-end variant. Renault has priced the Fluence competitively, and with the update, it should find more buyers this time. It’s tough task ahead, especially because the all-new Corolla is just around the corner.
4 cyl, 1461cc, turbo-diesel, 109bhp, 240Nm, 6M, FWD, 20.4kpl (claimed), Rs 15.49 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)
It was always one of the most sorted sedans in its class, and update refreshes things. Needs a more powerful engine, though