We loved the Fluence’s fresh, unconventional design when it first arrived in India. The elegantly avant-garde car managed to impress many, but unfortunately didn’t sell too well. Cut to circa 2014, Renault isn’t as new to the market anymore. It has tasted fantastic success with its Duster compact SUV, and knows the market a lot better. The new 2014 Renault Fluence facelift, as the product and marketing team at Renault told us has been built with the Indian customer’s preferences in mind. So have the French really decoded the sub-D segment success formula with the new car? Let’s find out together.
The new 2014 Renault Fluence is essentially a facelift, which means the basic lines and proportions of the car remain unchanged. With a car as tastefully designed as Fluence, that wouldn’t ever be a bad thing. The car looks wide and squat when look upon front on, or from behind. It doesn’t have any sharp creases or overly tight lines to project belligerence blatantly. Yet, with its wide shoulder line, slim, horizontally themed grille, headlamps and tail-lamps is very tastefully exudes a sense of sportiness.
In its newest avatar, the Fluence gets a new front grille, with the big Renault logo positioned over a glossy black frame, and is flanked by two elegant, horizontally positioned chrome bars. Another impactful, and easily noticeable change to the face of the car is the inclusion of the new parallelogram shaped fog lamp housings lined with chrome, incorporating beautifully designed daytime running LEDs.
Headlamps are new too, and not just are the new light units more elongated and sharper, they also feature new chrome ‘eyelashes’ within the top portion of the glass housing. The halogen projector lamp offers great visibility in the dark too.
The biggest change in profile is the inclusion on new design 16 inch Kaleido alloy wheels. The design of the new 10 spoke wheels is in complete harmony with the overall design and adds to the elegant, understated appeal of the car. Apart from the alloys, nothing much has changed. The chrome lining on the window sills and the aluminium finish handles endow the Fluence with a premium look.
The exterior styling has always been one of its biggest USPs for the Fluence, and with the changes incorporated it looks even better. We love the new grille on this car, and with its balanced proportions and classy lines, we would think of someone who’s bought it as a man with a fine taste.
Cabin comfort and features
Inside the cabin, the Fluence features a two tone dashboard with a brownish grey top and beige lower scheme. Just like the exterior, the interior of the Fluence has always looked elegantly different, and the sophisticated feel has only improved on the facelift. The big dashboard is finished in a soft touch material, and looks neat and uncluttered, though there are no storage spaces or recesses on top. The light coloured treatment extends itself to the steering wheel which is draped in beige colored leather. The seats, gear-knob and steering wheels have all been draped in new, better quality hide on the facelift.
The instrument console remains largely unchanged, with the stylish central display showing speed, fuel gauge and engine temperature along with door-open icon. It’s flanked by an analogue tacho on the left and a digital MID on the right which offers very useful information including average consumption and distance to dry. Around the three main readouts, you have a whole bevy of other tell-tale lights, which light up the center console like a Christmas tree when you turn the ignition on for the first time.
The center console is also home to a two-zone automatic climate control system with three air-flow modes – Soft, Auto and Fast. The three modes let the passengers choose how they want the cabin temperature to reach a specific temperature. For e.g. Soft mode wouldn’t bother you with a noisy blast. The buttons on the center console are too small, and those with big fingers often find some other button inadvertently pressed. The position of certain controls, like most other French cars is confusing and it would take one some time to get used to all the controls on this one.
Seats are big, plush and comfortable – some of the best this side of Rs 20 lakh. Just like the entire cabin, the seats have an air of quality and craftsmanship about them – the contrasting black lining on the edges of the seats is a classy touch. Front driver’s seat features lumbar support as well as height adjustment. The front seats also have special headrests with adjustable recline angle for better protection against whiplash injuries. Rear seats are extremely comfortable too, with dedicated A/C vents and a central armrest with integrated cupholders enhancing comfort further. There is also a power socket positioned below the rear A/C power vents. Headroom comes at a premium though.
In terms of small storage spaces throughout the cabin, the Fluence features a reasonably big storage under the central arm-rest. The glove box is quite small with more sections inside, which means that bigger items like a laptop cannot be stored within. Both front doors have a big recess to store a one-liter bottle with some space to spare. There are two more small cup-holders positioned longitudinally ahead and behind the gear shifter stick. At the back, there is apace for a medium sized bottle in either of the doors. Then there are two more small cup-holders integrated in the central armrest. Boot space is generous enough, and can accommodate 530 liters of luggage. In addition, the rear seats can also be dropped in 60:40 ratio to increase luggage carrying capacity further.
Feature list is liberal, and the top of the line E4 variant comes with goodies such as front and rear parking sensors, Cruise control, ESP, 4 airbags, push button start/stop, a decent sounding Arkemys 3D surround audio, auto headlamps and wiper, anti pinch windows, and a whole army of other features. The Fluence may not have a big screen on the center console, or a jazzy camera to titillate those who want to ‘see’ equipment on their cars, but it features contemporary tech which is nicely hidden under the panels of its classy cabin.
The complete list of features for both E2 and E4 variants is provided on the last page, along with the technical specification and prices of the car
Images of Features and Details
Rectangular central A/C vents can be shut completely with a dial. The display for audio and other controls is positioned above it
Sun visor case right ahead of the front cabin lights
Various menus for the audio system and other settings
Two zone fully automatic air conditioning on the E4 variant with three air flow modes – Soft, Auto and Fast
Integrated blinkers on the ORVMs
Headlamps have been redesigned to look wider, slimmer and sharper. Look at the eyelashes above the projector lens
New black housing for fog lamps with pronounced chrome lining and integrated daytime running LEDs
New grille now rests on a glossy black frame and features a big Renault logo flanked by two chrome stripes
Aluminium finish door handles look nice. The doors will get automatically locked as soon as you move away from the car with the key card in your pocket
12V power socket below the rear A/C vents
Steering is draped in beige colored leather and has mounted controls for Cruise Control. Audio related controls are hidden in the right hand side behind the steering wheel
Rear seats can be dropped in 60:40 ratio to enhance storage space
Rear doors have space for a medium sized water bottle and a recess in arm-rest to put a wallet
The smart card for the Influence can be put safely inside a slot right next to the start / stop button. Notice the remote lights button on the card
Specially designed headrests for the front passengers to prevent whiplash injuries
Glovebox doesn’t have much space.
Useful and clear readout in the MID
Controls for power folding mirrors, mirror adjustment and power windows. Windows come with anti-pinch function
Rear A/C vent unit
Blinds for rear windscreen and windows. Both are manual
Rear reading lights
Vanity mirrors with light are available at both front seats
Check out the special aluminium-pattern material dividing the top and bottom portion of the dashboard. It’s similar to the insert we saw on the new E350 CDI, now that cannot be a bad thing, can it?
Plush, comfortable rear seats with a cup-holder integrated with the central armrest
New 16 inch allows are shod with MRF ZV2K rubber
Performance and handling
The Fluence is powered by a 1.5 liter inline 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine with 110PS of peak power output and 240 Nm of peak torque. The engine is essentially the same as the previous version of the car. While those aren’t very impressive numbers for the segment the car represents, the Fluence still manages to move forward with confidence once it hits the meat of the torque curve. Turbo lag can be experienced easily below 1800 rpm, and you would need to play with the shifter stick a bit more than desired in stop start city traffic. While the torque reservoir isn’t entirely empty at low revs, there isn’t a reassuring shove to be experienced. Having said that, the Fluence would manage to pull very softly from 1400 rpm onwards, and keep building momentum slowly thereafter.
The positive side of the engine is its silky refinement, and the low NVH levels. There is hardly any noise inside the cabin as the car is doing a low 2000-2500 rpm and cruising away happily at 120 km/h in 6th gear. Like most French cars, the suspension is tuned well, and offers a flat, composed ride. The Fluence takes rough patches and smaller undulations in its stride impressively well, with no noise or thuds percolating inside the cabin. It’s only while passing over sharper edges at high speeds that the Fluence gets a bit unsettled. Then again, which car doesn’t when treated with extremities.
We loved the Fluence for its ride quality which even after being firm enough offers ample comfort to both front back row passengers. The steering wheel on the car is very well weighted, and unlike some other cars in the segment, offers good feel and feedback. We enjoyed our stint with the car, especially on open, mildly winding highways. The steering has some feel to even at dead center and even very mild movements are translated into directional changes. The Fluence’s steering makes it an interesting car to drive, and the beautifully tuned suspension enhances the experience.
Having said all of that, the Fluence being an everyday car, meant to ferry people in comfort does exhibit its share of body roll when thrown around bends. It’s not bothersome at all though, and you’d love driving this car around a set of twisties, unless you want to drive in an extreme manner. Presence of Electronic Stability Program and ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) ensures that the electronics are constantly keeping a watch and cut in to rescue for one of those overcommitted maneuvers.
The Fluence has its sophistication, understated elegance, quality interior and a healthy list of features going for it. Those who like good automotive design are sure to get impressed by this beautiful exponent of French design. The car is priced competitively for the segment, and is liberally equipped even on the base variant. On the downside, a bigger engine would have done more justice to the segment this car represents. A more linear power delivery would also have made this car more city drive friendly.
The Fluence, then, is not for those who are looking for a grandiose exterior, or gimmicky features inside the cabin. It’s a classy piece of design, with a very good set of features that would really make a difference to your status and comfort. If you have a refined taste in cars, this one should tug the strings of your heart.
2014 Renault Fluence Price at the time of test
E2 : 13.99 lakh ex-Delhi
E4 : 15.49 lakh ex-Delhi
Tech Specs and Features List (Click to Expand)