The top-selling car in Turkey for at least 4 months last year was the Renault Fluence. In the other months, it was in the top 10 best selling cars. It makes sense then that Renault chose to debut the Fluence facelift at the 2012 Istanbul Motor Show. What doesn't make sense is why this sedan is rejected in India.
During the festive season months, the entry-level D-segment sedan market in India is about 1,500 units/month strong. The Fluence has a 0.8 percent share in this segment, while the segment leader Hyundai Elantra has a 26 percent share. Apart from telling you whats new in the refreshed Fluence, we try to re-analyze why this car failed to catch the buyer's fancy.
Changes in the 2014 Renault Fluence facelift
- New grille and logo positioning
- Tweaked headlights with projector lights
- LED daytime running lights
- New foglight enclosures
- Newly designed 16-inch alloy wheels
- New music system
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Chrome highlights in the interiors
- Discontinuation of petrol model
If you found the old Fluence's front a bit dull, Renault designers have worked this out on the refreshed model. The grille is replaced with a newer element which sports more chrome, while the bumper gets more attractive thanks to redesigned foglight housings and LED daytime running lights. The front fascia of the new Fluence is certainly a step above the older model.
The side profile is left unchanged, as is the rear end of the sedan. These angles still look fresh and different (different good) compared to the competition which is either overly-styled (Elantra) or dull and boring (Jetta). The exteriors then had no part in the car's poor sales performance.
Understated is a perfect word to describe the cabin of the Fluence. Build quality may not be VW like, but is certainly good nevertheless. Designers have executed the center console very well in the sense that you've your necessary features, without the console seeming too cluttered or confusing to use.
The rear seat is especially a very nice place to be in. You get rear AC vents, a generous view from the window, sun-blinds for the window and rear windscreen, and well bolstered seats featuring adequate thigh support and just the perfect amount of recline. Just like the exteriors, the interiors or the comfort, couldn't have put off customers from buying this car.
Power for the refreshed Fluence comes from the 1.5-liter four-cylinder K9K diesel engine which produces 110 PS of power and 240 Nm of torque. On paper, and while driving, its quite clear that the Fluence wasn’t tuned for outright performance. Turbo lag makes driving at low speeds highly irritating, and even accelerating after you've slowed down for a speed-breaker requires you to shift into 1st gear.
Driving in stop-and-go traffic is even more tiresome considering the heavy clutch of the Fluence. This is a diesel car which should have been made available with an automatic transmission.
The upside to this engine is its highway cruising ability. Thanks to the taller 6th gear, speeds like 130 km/h feel as though you're doing 60 km/h! Coming to the NVH: the vibrations are hardly felt inside the cabin irrespective of the speed. However, the engine is noisy and this noise can be heard inside to quite some extent at low speeds.
Overall, while its easy to see how the Fluence diesel may not have favored the self-driving customer, the sedan should have found favor among rear-seat preferring buyers.
Ride and Handling:
The Fluence has a great ride quality. On the patchy single-lane roads we drove the car in, bumps were soaked pretty well. The impressive part is that the Fluence manages to ride so well without compromising on handling. The sporty looking sedan corners as confidently as it looks. The steering feel is right up there with the Germans, while body control is taut and well balanced. If only the Fluence had more firepower...
Renault claims the Fluence will do 20.4 km/l. The engine in the Fluence, which is also used by cars as small as the Micra, is known for being extremely conservative when it comes to burning fuel. While the ARAI rated efficiency is easily achievable, our test car's efficiency dropped to as low as 9.2 km/l while driving on the hills of Ooty. The massive turbo-lag is the reason for this.
If you’re looking to be chauffeur driven, the Fluence makes tremendous sense. It has a very frugal diesel engine, plenty of rear space, excellent ride and a very nice sounding music system comes standard in this top-end variant.
As a back seat car, the Fluence gets a near perfect score. However, the same cannot be said if you want to drive yourself personally. First of all, Renault does not offer an automatic transmission even as an option, and using this heavy clutch in traffic ensures you getting a sore foot at the end of the day. As a driver’s car, the German and Czech rivals are still a step above.