Renault Fluence facelift review, test drive
4th Apr 2014 9:09 pm
Renault Fluence gets some styling updates and more kit. But is that good enough to boost the car's low demand in a flagging segment?
Renault's Fluence, despite being a capable car, never really managed to sell in large numbers. You could attribute this to various things – its mediocre engines, its price-tag at the time, rivals that proved to be better bets, and finally, the fact that, when it was launched, Renault was relatively unknown in India. This then is the facelift – one that, in our eyes, improves on the Fluence's already good looks. But is there more to this car than just its appearance? Read on.
The exterior is where the big changes are. The facelifted Fluence gets a new grille with a large Renault badge taking pride of place in the centre, the restyled headlamps look nice and there's a new bumper with fog lamps. It also gets a new design for its 16-inch alloys. Overall, the nip and tuck has made the Fluence look much more modern and appealing.
On the inside, there's new seat leather, a new audio system, which sounds slightly better than the old unit, a soft touch dashboard with a hint of chrome around the air-con vents, dual-zone climate control, a digital instrument cluster with a blue tint around the speedometer, and an electronic parking brake. There’s also other kit like a smart key with start-stop button, cruise control, parking sensors, four airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), EBD, ESP, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, rear sun blinds and rear air-con vents. At the rear seats, a lack of rear headroom is an issue in the low-roofed Fluence. But its long wheelbase translates to great legroom, even with the front seats pushed all the way back. The rear seats are comfortable, have great under-thigh support and the seating position is nice and upright.
There is no change under the skin and the Renault Fluence facelift retains the 1.5-litre diesel motor that comes mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Essentially, the Fluence maintains the traits of the earlier car. There's not much power below 1900rpm, and that initial turbo lag is still ever present, this will make driving in stop-go traffic a bit cumbersome. Plus, the slightly heavy clutch adds to this. The new Fluence though retains its great ride and handling combination. The ride is very absorbent and the suspension does a good job of soaking up the rough stuff, however, there's more up and down movement than say in cars like the Jetta and Octavia. There is good power in the mid-range and ample muscle for relaxed cruising on the highway as well. The steering though feels precise and weighs up nicely at speed. The Fluence always feels sure-footed and body control is good too. It does roll in bends but never excessively so.
Overall, the Fluence is still quite a capable car and now, looks much more appealing. And with Renault expanding its network, it's a much safer bet. The Renault Fluence facelift is available in two trims, the E2 and E4, which are priced at Rs 13.99 lakh and Rs 15.49 lakh, respectively (all prices, ex-showroom, Delhi).