Renault Fluence Privilege 1.5L dCi: Fluently French
And it is exactly in this context that we found the new Renault Fluence attractive. Touted as the most spacious and fuel-efficient in its class, it isn’t the best looking or most stylish aesthetically, but the unrivalled comfort and technology far surpasses its competitors.
You’d have to admit that less the small little details commonly missed by the usual passer-by, the Fluence looks a little dated. But if you consider yourself a petrolhead or sorts, you would realise that the frontal facade now boasts an enhanced grille, part of Renault’s new styling identity which you can spot across their new fleets.
Up front, you now enjoy LED daytime running lights as well as xenon headlamps to brighten up your drive. The amount of chrome on the Fluence added to the premium prestige the car exudes, a job well done in our opinion, given that its shape and modelling bears a tad resemblance to the Kia K3.
The Fluence now presents itself with a curvier shell compared to its predecessor, in a bid to adopt a more assertive yet stylish stance. You’d find an equal amount of glossy black trims with chrome over the front of the car, providing that sportiness yet maintaining the styling of a luxury sedan.
The Fluence doesn’t surprise you with breaking edge technology, but it impresses with the amount of gadgets and features it has for your enjoyment. Sliding into the Fluence, you’d realise that this 4,622 mm sedan provides you with a comfortable 1,480 mm elbow room at the front.
For those interested in the type and amount of technology your money would buy you, you’d be pleased that the Fluence offers you a variety of gadgets, ranging from one-touch start/stop, front and rear parking sensors with reverse camera, an electric sunroof, and many more.
Set in the center console is the new Renault R-Link 7” multimedia system, complete with voice control, Bluetooth capability, navigation, as well as your on-board trip computer. While we acknowledge the user-friendliness for most of this infotainment system, the navigation was undoubtedly a little too complicated for comfort. And in that context, the fact that the system was a touch-screen didn’t help much, given the fact that you’d have to stretch all the way to the front just to key in a couple of wordings.
Nevertheless, the Fluence felt extremely comfortable from both the front as well as the rear. Renault’s own contrast stitching (grey and white piping styling) on its seats provide a sportier look to the entire interior, while at the same time, not compromising on the grip as well as the feel of the seat.
At the rear, you’d be surprised that the Fluence took 4 grown adults comfortably on our test drive. The rear air-conditioning vents provided the comfort and ventilation needed, but most importantly, it didn’t feel too squeezy nor claustrophobic for our passengers.
And if you’re one who golfs often, you’d be pleased that the Fluence currently holds the largest boot capacity in its class. With 530 litres of space, we fitted a total of three full golf bags in (with that little space to spare for a few plastic bags). Flip the rear seats down and you can consider ferrying a few more luggages on top of your golf clubs.
If there’s something we found really impressive on the Fluence, it would be the ability to travel the distance. Under the hood of the Fluence lies a 1,461 cc turbocharged diesel plant. Married to Renault’s Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) transmission, we clocked an impressive 15 km/litre on average for the duration of our test drive.
Putting out only 110 horses, the Fluence doesn’t seem as springy on paper. But take it to the roads and you’d be amazed at the pick-up of this turbodiesel, thanks to the 240 Nm of torque. The dCi 110 turbodiesel plant sends you to the century mark in 11.9 seconds – not exactly the most impressive, though its acceleration ability would suffice in Singapore’s constant start-stop driving conditions.
But as seamless as the ride may feel thanks to the EDC 6-speed tranny, Renault’s turbodiesel bears the signature clank when you fire up this 4-pot engine. It honestly does sound like a taxi while running at idle speed – probably something you’d have to live with at the expense of all the goodies above.
For a French wheel, the Fluence handles and drives surprisingly well. Our experience with its fellow Citroen counterpart wasn’t the most pleasant of all, but the Fluence, like the Captur that we reviewed earlier, proved to be more of a joy to drive rather than a worry or hassle.
Despite being a front-wheeler, the Fluence sat snugly close to the roads despite taking tight corners at relatively high speeds. The McPherson front struts, coupled with a semi-rigid axle at the rear helped alleviate most of the uncomfortable bumps you’d experience on the roughest of roads (hint: try Bukit Timah Road and you’ll understand what we mean).
The Renault Fluence isn’t exactly an eye-opener, as we established right at the start of this review. It takes a bit more effort for the everyday driver to explore and appreciate the beauty of this French chick, to find out what it has to offer over the rest of its class, and how it aces in most aspects.
Less the extremely irritating engine clattering, the Fluence proved to be a joy to drive. Yes, there’re certain points we picked that we felt could have been improved, but the pros ultimately outweigh the cons – it might be a good choice if you need that space and power.