2014 Renault Fluence Test Drive
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2014 Renault Fluence Review

Car Tested: 2014 Renault Fluence Diesel E4

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 18,02,340/-

The Renault Fluence is extremely comfortable and is quite involving to drive.

Renault began its solo journey in the Indian market starting from 2011 with the Renault Fluence. Since most of the Indian buyers were unfamiliar with a Renault badge, the luxury sedan couldn’t make a big impact in the D-segment, where competition was stiff amongst popular Japanese and German players. However, the French carmaker has now achieved a substantial customer base in India, thanks to the Renault Duster. Consequently, the company believes that they have considerable latitude now to tap the luxury segment with introduction of the updated 2014 Renault Fluence. So what are the changes on the new Fluence you ask? We examine them on our Ooty-Bangalore drive.

Motor Quest: The Renault Fluence is based on the Renault/Nissan C platform. It went into production in 2009 in Turkey, Argentina and South Korea. The Fluence is also badged as the Renault Samsung SM3, which is produced by South Korean Renault Samsung Motors. The Fluence was launched in India in 2011 and was the first product in the Renault India portfolio. At the 2014 Auto Expo, Renault India revealed the facelifted version of the Fluence.

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Significant changes are at the front, rear profile remains the same

Exteriors – The Renault Fluence has its own distinct flair in the design, it’s neither in-your-face like its Korean rival and nor too simple and vanilla like its German rivals. The overall design of the updated Fluence remains untouched but it’s the smart cosmetic changes that make it look bolder, especially at the front end. There’s a new gloss black finished front grille boasting a pronounced Renault badge. The headlamps are now smoked with a neat addition of projector lamps. LED daytime running lights are integrated to the foglamp housing and a new set of alloy wheels are offered that makes the side profile look complete. The rear section is more or less the same, save for the chrome treatment on the boot-lid.

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The interiors look premium and the overall quality is good. A nice place to be in

Interiors – The well embellished cabin of the Renault Fluence looks contemporary and roomy because of the light shades and tasteful dual-tone dashboard treatment. There is a neat silver trim running across the dashboard that adds to the premium feel. Dual zone air conditioning is very convenient and quite effective as it chills the cabin pretty quick. The new Fluence gets an updated media head unit with USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity. The screen on the centre console is tad too small to operate easily on the move but the interface is user friendly and Bluetooth pairing with our phone was effortless. Arkamys has provided 3D Surround Sound (4 speakers, 4 tweeters) on the updated Fluence that churns out superb quality music.

2014 Renault Fluence Media2014 Renault Fluence Media Controls

Dual-zone AC is effective, Arkamys system provides quality acoustics, notice the steering column controls

The steering wheel looks rich and feels good to hold with the added contours. The controls provided on either side of the horn pad are for the cruise control. You wonder where the controls are for the media player. Sadly, it’s behind the steering wheel like the Renault Duster but let us tell you that once you get a hang of this arrangement, it’s very convenient to use. The semi-digital instrument cluster looks snazzy and displays all the information you need. It has a conventional analogue tachometer, digital display for the speedometer, fuel gage, temperature gage and door warning, then there is a small MID. Compared to the previous version, the new cluster gets chrome outlining for the three pods and blue illumination.

2014 Renault Fluence Legroom2014 Renault Fluence Boot

The rear seats lack under-thigh support but legroom is ample and boot is quite spacious

The overall quality inside the cabin feels sturdy and built to last like it should be in this segment. Stowage spaces are aplenty to keep the cabin neat. The glove box is a bit narrow though and has limited storage space. The footwell is sizable featuring a dead pedal. The seats are wide and well cushioned to keep your long drives fatigue free. The rear seats are comfortable too and have ample legroom but lack a bit of under-thigh support for tall passengers. Arm rest and rear air-cons are provided for additional comfort along with side window shades and rear windscreen shade, which is manually adjustable. The Renault Fluence has a large boot with 530-litres of ample luggage capacity. Some key features include auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter and keyless entry with push start/stop button.

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The 1.5-litre k9k diesel engine has a strong mid range and impressive refinement

Performance – The 2014 Renault Fluence continues to be powered by the celebrated 1.5-litre k9k 4-cylinder diesel engine that produces 110 PS of power at 4000 RPM (Renault has upped power globally to 130 BHP which should have been offered in India as well) and 240 Nm of torque at 1850 RPM. This tried and tested diesel mill has immense lugging power to pull a car of this size with ease. Yes, the turbolag ailment of the 110 PS unit is there until 1800 RPM but it’s not as if the car doesn’t respond, you just have to wait a bit to reach the strong mid-range. The oil burner revs freely and redlines at around 5000 RPM. Keep the engine on the boil and it surges forward with no bother. NVH levels of this engine are excellent; you would hardly feel any vibrations or the clatter of the diesel motor inside.

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The 110 PS unit has considerable lag initially till 1800 RPM but it’s a rev happy motor

Mated to the engine is a 6-speed manual transmission. Automatic transmission is not offered (surprising for a D-segment sedan). The gearbox is slightly notchy to use and the clutch is a bit heavy. One has to get used to the combination of a heavy clutch and turbolag in bumper to bumper traffic situations. However, once you are familiar with this setup, you can extract the most out of this engine and it is quite fun to do so. In the 6th gear at 100 km/hr, the engine hovers around 2000 RPM. Renault claims 20.4 km/l of fuel efficiency but you should get around 13-14 km/l overall. Renault has discontinued the 2.0-litre petrol engine in the Fluence due to lack of demand.

2014 Renault Fluence Performance Review
The fantastic ride quality and high speed stability makes highway driving fatigue free

Driving Dynamics – The Renault Fluence has an impressive balance of ride and handling. The ride quality is one of the best you can get in this segment. At slow speeds the Fluence softens up the bumps and as the speed increases the ride gets flatter. It has confidence inspiring highway characteristics and there is minimal vertical movement, even at the rear. The ground clearance also needs special mention here. We went over many shapes and sizes of speed-breakers in varying speeds but the Fluence never touched its underbelly anywhere.

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Handling is precise and you can have fun around twisties with the feedback rich steering

The handling is enjoyable too and the car turns its face sprightly, maintaining its line. The feedback of the steering wheel is lively and crisp. So it’s light at parking speeds for effortless manoeuvrability and weighs up nicely at high speeds for confidence inspiring highway runs. It’s just that the steering judders when you are attacking a corner and you encounter a sharp section of bad roads. The brakes are effective and shed speed with confidence, it has minimal nose dive and provides the ideal brake pedal bite you need at high speeds.

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There are many safety features on offer but more airbags would have been appreciated

Safety – The Renault Fluence has a 4-star EURO NCAP safety rating for the 2011 model. There are plenty of safety features offered on the 2014 Renault Fluence. It includes ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control and ESP (Electronic Stability Program). 4 airbags are offered along with anti-whiplash front headrests. The entry level E2 version of the Renault Fluence is available with 2 front airbags only and doesn’t get ESP.

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The front profile looks much better than the previous version of the Fluence

Verdict – The Renault Fluence is one of the most underrated cars in the Indian market. It had a basic front fascia but now it looks bolder and attractive. The interiors are well put together with decent equipment on offer. In congested traffic, the heavy clutch and turbolag might be bothersome but it’s a fairly refined and punchy motor. The Fluence really shines in the dynamics department, where it offers tremendous comfort yet enjoyable handling. Considering the price range of the Renault Fluence, we agree that you can get some fancy badges, more bells and whistles and automatic transmission options. However, if you want a fun to drive vehicle with good comfort, practicality and space, you should definitely consider the Fluence in this segment.

The Renault Fluence is positioned in a ‘sport luxury’ segment as per the French carmaker. They couldn’t manage to attract buyers in its first innings but with an updated version and a wide customer base, they expect significantly more takers now.

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The rear profile just gets an additional strip of chrome

What’s Cool

* Updated Styling
* Ride Quality and Handling
* Frugal and Refined Engine

What’s Not So Cool

* No Automatic
* Engine lacks power compared to competition

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People are now familiar with this badge, thanks to the Renault Duster

2014 Renault Fluence Specifications

* Engine: 1461cc, 4-cylinder
* Power: 108 HP @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 240 Nm @ 1850 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed manual
* Fuel Consumption: 14 km/l (City), 16 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Coil Spring (Rear)
* Tyres: 205/60/16
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Solid Disc (Rear)
* Safety: Immobilizer, 4 Airbags, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control

2014 Renault Fluence Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4618 mm X 1813 mm X 1488 mm
* Wheelbase: 2703 mm
* Ground clearance: 168 mm
* Boot Volume: 530 litres