As good as the Renault Fluence diesel was, it had two major flaws. The first was the equipment list - the diesel version was sparsely equipped compared to the petrol model and that put off many prospective buyers. The launch of the E4 trim has rectified that problem to a large extent. In E4 guise, the Fluence gets a whole host of goodies including cruise control, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth telephony and automatic headlights, and lighter materials and leather upholstery in the cabin only enhance the luxury quotient of the big French car.
That brings us to the second area of weakness – the car’s driveability. The 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine suffered from serious turbo lag below 2000rpm and this was followed by a sudden surge in power. This spiky power delivery meant the car was not all that easy to drive in city traffic. Renault has now worked to address the issue by equipping the engine with a new fuel-injection system for more precise injections. The blades of the variable-geometry turbocharger have also been optimised for improved functioning at different engine speeds.
There is a 3bhp bump in max power, though it is still produced at 4000rpm, but the bigger and more noticeable change is in max torque which, though still 24.5kgm, is now produced at 1850rpm, or 150rpm earlier than before. The modifications to the engine have worked well as driveability is much improved. You no longer have to wait till 2000rpm for the car to really get going. Power builds up steadily from a more useable 1700rpm and even then there is no sudden jump in power, just a smooth build. As before, the Fluence feels most comfortable in the mid-range though the engine will rev up till 5000rpm. Noise levels seems to have improved too, but you still can’t escape the diesel clatter at idle. Sadly, the clutch still feels on the heavier side.
Renault has not modified any of the other mechanicals. The steering is great as before with nice weight to the wheel as you drive faster. What also remains a constant is the Fluence’s excellent ride quality that is still best in class.
The changes have easily made the Fluence a more complete car. It is easier to drive now and the added kit means it is as well equipped as the competition. At Rs 15.2 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Fluence Diesel E4 is priced competitively too. So in E4 guise atleast, the Fluence makes a much better buy than before.