Getting to grips with Renault’s attempt at taking on the might of Toyota’s Corolla, Chevrolet’s Cruze and the Kia Cerato. Can the Frenchman match up?
Renault Fluence is sensibleLet’s face it, the average, run-of-the-mill sedan isnot the most exciting of markets and drivers of these cars have had cars assigned to them, as opposed to buying them by choice. B-segment sedans lack of personality but more than make up for it in terms of practicality and comfort. These cars are chosen with head, not heart.
Renault Fluence design and rideThis market is dominated by the ever faithful Toyota Corolla, with the Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra weighing in. Renault has decided to have a go at making a sensible sedan and the Fluence is its creation. As sedans go, the Fluence isn’t bad looking at all, but there’s nothing outstanding visually. Simply, it’s not unpleasant. Underneath that bodywork lies the respectable Mégane III platform which offers a stable and smooth ride. The Renault Fluence is a pleasure to drive, although it is rather uninvolving. Then again, it’s not meant to be sporty in any way at all. The Fluence will get you from A to B in the most comfortable manner possible.
Renault Fluence engineLurking under the bonnet of the Fluence lurks a particularly refined 2.0-litre four cylinder engine with 105kW and 195Nm. It doesn’t sound like much but at the coast, the engine pulls strongly and the lack of engine noise in the cabin is noticeable. It has impressive midrange torque which makes overtaking pretty simple. The gearbox has a precise slick action with the first five ratios being close and the sixth gear is reserved for highway use. Once in sixth gear, the Fluence excels on the open road where it cruises along effortlessly. It also offers reasonable fuel consumption with the trip computer showing 8.7L/100km at the end of the week’s test period.
Renault Fluence interior and specificationThe Fluence has one major trump card though and that’s its specification level. This vehicle comes fully loaded and features a TomTom satnav, Bluetooth radio/MP3 with iPod/USB connectivity, satellite audio controls, leather seats, climate control and keyless entry. Strangely though, cruise control and the speed limiter seen on most other Renaults have been omitted. The interior feels well put-together and high quality materials have been used extensively.
It has also been given the full five star NCAP safety treatment and boasts six-airbags and stability control. The brakes are ABS-equipped and have Electronic Brakeforce Distribution too. In essence, you’re driving something that’s solid, comfortable and most importantly, safe. Vehicles in this segment need to be able to carry and the Fluence is able to match its competitors by having a decent boot as well as plenty of rear legroom.
Renault Fluence conclusionThe Fluence is hard to fault if you’re looking for something offers comfort, respectable performance, economy and practicality if you consider that it costs R249,900. Low mileage pre-owned units, in theory, should be making a killing in sales. However, the South African market is a tough nut to crack thanks to brand reputations/history and the Fluence has its work cut out against more popular competition. Still, give it a look if you’re after something like this. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Renault Fluence price in South AfricaThe Renault Fluence 2.0 Privilege retails for R254 900
We like: · So many gadgets and features · Quite refined · Spacious cabin and huge boot · Value for money offering
We don’t like: · Depreciation · Rivals have stronger brands backing them · This segment isn't Renault's forté
Renault Fluence 2.0 Privilege specifications
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol Power: 105 kW @ 6 000 rpm Torque: 195 N.m @ 3 750 rpm Transmission: six-speed manual Wheels: 17-inch 0-100 km/h: 10.4 seconds (claimed) Fuel economy: 7.8l/100km (claimed combined cycle)