Renault’s first product for India, the Fluence, didn’t quite set the cash registers ringing for the French carmaker. Boosted by the enthusiastic response for its Duster SUV, however, Renault has the opportunity to address the saloon’s fortunes and simultaneously strengthen the brand image with the facelifted Fluence.
It’s immediately evident that the Renault’s new identity gives the updated Fluence a contemporary and distinctive look. The majority of the changes are neatly housed in the big, one-piece bumper that also includes the grille. The bigger and bolder Renault lozenge is placed on a glossy black strip that connects both headlamps. Lower down, the air dam section is split into three parts, lending the Fluence a very sporty look. New LED daytime running lights are visible above the fog lamps. Apart from the new 10-spoke alloy wheels, the Fluence looks the same and has no change in sheet metal.
On the inside, the Fluence’s equipment list sees new entrants. An LCD display for the driver will now be standard across the 2013 range. Then there’s front and rear parking sensors, an automatic parking brake as well as better USB, Bluetooth and auxiliary input connectivity. Renault has also unveiled new upholstery options for the Fluence.
The biggest and most important change, however, lies under the hood. At the launch of the Fluence, Renault didn’t read the market quite right, and it was customer feedback that spurred the introduction of the more premium E4 variant of the diesel Fluence. However, the demand for a diesel engine and automatic transmission combination remained unfulfilled. Renault is working to remedy that with an Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) gearbox for the diesel variant. This six-speed twin-clutch gearbox is rated for 24.4kgm of torque and is already offered in other markets. The EDC-equipped Fluence can crack the 100kph mark from standstill in a claimed 11.9 seconds, has a top speed of 185kph and fuel efficiency is only slightly lower than the manual version.
Internationally, Renault has also introduced the hi-tech 1.6-litre dCI 130 motor to the Fluence line-up. Stop-start and energy recovery have been added too. Don’t expect this motor to join the India line-up just yet. Renault’s updated Fluence will go on sale in Turkey in January 2013 and it is expected to arrive in India in the first quarter of 2013.