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Old 29th April 2014, 19:58   #1
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Default 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

The Renault Fluence Facelift has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 13.99 - 15.49 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• Facelift brings much improved styling
• Solid build quality. Feels robust enough to withstand abuse
• Spacious high-quality interiors. Among the roomiest from this segment
• Diesel engine offers excellent fuel economy (ARAI = 20.4 kpl)
• Outstanding ride quality matched with neutral handling
• E4 variant has ESP, LED DRLs, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, rear sunblinds & more

What you won’t:

• 1.5L diesel lacks the outright power of the 2.0L competition (Cruze, Jetta, Octavia)
• No Automatic transmission. D-segment customers prefer slushboxes
• Turbo-lag & hard clutch make the Fluence cumbersome to drive in traffic conditions
• Messed up ergonomics. Also, many controls have a left-hand-drive orientation
• Petrol engine has been discontinued. No longer an option
• Renault's sub-par after sales service

Last edited by GTO : 30th April 2014 at 10:32.
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Old 29th April 2014, 19:59   #2
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Default re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Since the Renault Fluence has already been reviewed by Team-BHP, this report will focus on changes made to the 2014 car. For easy reference, here are direct links to the complete road-test:

Exterior Design & Build Quality (Renault Fluence : Test Drive & Review)

Interior design, space, practicality & features (Renault Fluence : Test Drive & Review)

Engine, gearbox, suspension & on-road behaviour (Renault Fluence : Test Drive & Review)

Other Pertinent Points (Renault Fluence : Test Drive & Review)

The Smaller yet Significant Things (Renault Fluence : Test Drive & Review)

Last edited by GTO : 30th April 2014 at 10:33.
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Old 29th April 2014, 19:59   #3
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Default re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

The Fluence is basically the Megane saloon that's been built keeping in mind emerging markets that demand a robust construction & rough road ability. Although assembled at the Renault-Nissan alliance plant at Chennai, the kits are sourced from Turkey (which also supplies the Fluence to the European market). Additionally, the Fluence is manufactured in Argentina & South Korea where it is called the Renault Samsung SM3.

We brought you the scoop of the Fluence facelift back in July 2013 (link (Renault Fluence - Facelift - Scoop - facelifted versions spied)). This facelift had its international unveil in late 2012, with the addition of the corporate grill and re-profiled headlights. Two years on, we finally get that version over here. My guess is slow sales meant that existing kits needed to be exhausted first. With this facelift, the 2 liter petrol + CVT automatic has been dropped.

The Fluence was targeted at the D segment which - even Renault admits - is a challenging one. It was meant to go head to head with the Corolla, Civic and lower end variants from VW and Skoda. However, this segment is badge conscious and Renault's brand recall then was associated only with our favourite taxi, the Logan. Adding the sparse network at that time meant that the Fluence sold very slowly. Marketing efforts were low key too. When we originally tested the Fluence back in 2011, the diesel version (105 PS dCi motor) had noticeable turbo lag and, inexplicably, was available only in base trim! Of course, things changed with time and the diesel got better equipment levels.

Now that the Duster has been a resounding success and keeps dealers happy with the resultant volumes, Renault is aiming for a second chance with the 2014 Fluence. The exit of the Civic & Kizashi, coupled with the more expensive Jetta & Octavia, signals a window of opportunity. However, this could be short-lived as the next-generation Corolla launches in May. Plus, the Fluence is a 5 year old design, competing with newer cars backed by more premium nameplates.

2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven-renault-fluence-price-specifications.png

The Fluence is now available with the 1.5L diesel motor only and in the E2 & E4 trims. The E2 is no longer a basic poverty-spec version, although it has less sophisticated air-conditioning & ICE, and lacks rear side airbags & front parking sensors. This is our first drive of the Fluence with the later 110 PS dCi. The engine can also be found in the Duster & Terrano. We drove the E4 variant over a combination of rural highways, toll roads and heavy city traffic.

2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven-renault-fluence-features.png

The earlier Fluence had a rather bland nose; this facelift gives it a more purposeful look:

The rear end has been left untouched:

Badge is prominent on the facelift:

LED DRLs & more chrome added. Personally, I feel the chrome is a little overdone:

Alloy wheel design has changed, has rather thick spokes. Note the rear disk brakes in this picture. 205/50 R16 MRF ZV2K tyres:

Last edited by GTO : 1st May 2014 at 16:41.
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Old 29th April 2014, 20:00   #4
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Default re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

The Fluence has excellent interiors. The knurled metal trim adds a lot of class (E4 version). Unlike French cars of old, the dashboard is well put together with hardwearing material. The only criticism is that the center console has some hard plastics. The Jetta rivals it on finish, but loses on opulence:

The steering is nice and meaty to grip, although it is sure to turn black within a few months! The horn pad doesn't require much of a push. The gear lever is slightly higher mounted and falls to hand:

Steering-mounted buttons for cruise control only. The left switch is to adjust the speed, while the right switch is used to resume cruise control (or switch it off). These are operational after pressing the master cruise control switch (next to the handbrake). VW manages all of this with one stalk!

Behind the wiper stalk are the music system & phone controls:

The instruments are slightly unconventional. Some french eccentricity is welcome! The speedometer is digital, although in a circular pod. The term "square peg in round holes" comes to mind. The speedometer is easy to read, but one can get confused with the 6 and 8 digits at a glance. The tachometer has a small gearshift indicator:

MID displays the fuel efficiency (average & real-time), oil change interval, average speed, trip-meter, liters of fuel used, distance to empty etc. MID controls are located on the edge of the wiper stalk:

There is also an additional menu for activating the parking sensors, controlling the parking sensor volume, auto door lock and auto headlights:

Center screen (on top of the dashboard) displays external temperature, time, music source etc. Also used for setting the clock, audio and bluetooth pairing. European models get a pop-up display with an onboard navigation system:

The key card. Tip: avoid putting the key in your back pocket, many french drivers have had to replace the key over time:

Operating the dual-zone climate control is a bit fussy. Not intuitive beyond temperature control, as there are 10 buttons & 2 rocker switches to deal with. There are separate controls to increase / decrease fan speed. You need to take your eyes off the road to make proper adjustments. When temperatures reached 37 degrees centigrade, the unit kept us cool:

The Arkamys surround sound stereo is bass-oriented. Overall clarity felt on par with my Jetta. I might have needed more time to tweak this accordingly, as the whole system reset each time I pressed the set up button (when trying to tune it). Radio clarity was ok, the aerial is embedded in the windscreen. Audio controls are all at the bottom of the center console and you need to take your eyes off the road to ensure all settings are addressed. The volume knob is tiny compared to the tuner, and you can barely see the 'white on silver' markings. The AUX & USB ports are now on the front panel (would've been neater if moved to the glovebox). This is a car where you spend 10 minutes getting everything right before driving off:

The front door pad can hold a 1 liter bottle. Door pockets are narrow. Notice the puddle lamp below:

3 switches for the ORVMs alone - right or left, adjustment, close & open. VW does it with one switch!

The pedals are well-spaced and my size 10 feet were not cramped. Much appreciated was the dead pedal:

Control stalks are busy. The left controls the lights, fog lamps as well as the indicators:

The right hand stalk controls all the wiper functions through various twist actions (takes time to get used to). One part of the stalk segment is for the wiper speed, the other part is for the intermittent speed setting. The switch at the end controls the MID:

Headlamp height adjuster, dashboard light dimmer and ESP OFF buttons to the right of the steering wheel:

Glove compartment is a bit of a joke. It can hold very little, beyond the manual & spare bulbs:

Handbrake on the extreme left of the console points to its left-hand-drive origins. This position does give the driver more elbow room. Front armrest lifts to expose a storage spot underneath. Also visible in this image is the cruise control on / off button:

Sunglass holder + map reading lights + Bluetooth microphone:

Rear legroom is good. This is 6 foot me sitting behind my own seat setting. If I wore a turban, I might find headroom to be a challenge. Rear seats are contoured for 2 passengers:

Very useful roll-up sunblinds, the only other cars having these are the Skoda Superb & VW Passat. Quarter glass remains exposed:

Rear A/C vents & power source:

Rear passengers get their own map lights:

530 liters of boot space, practical shape too. Well-formed felt panel covers the inside of the boot lid. Avoids rattles and is cost effective. @ Honda, please note!

Nifty bag hook inside the boot:

Full size alloy as a spare:

Last edited by GTO : 1st May 2014 at 14:39.
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Old 29th April 2014, 20:01   #5
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Default re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

The Fluence's engine is the all familiar K9K 1.5L dCi that powers everything from the li'l Micra and the humble Logan to the Duster & Terrano siblings. The motor is fully manufactured in Chennai and is about 92% indigenous. This translates to potentially cheaper spares, good parts availability and competitive pricing. As far as I know, other cars in this segment have their engines assembled (as opposed to being fully manufactured). This SOHC 8 valve powerplant is old-school...it's nowhere as contemporary as others in the D1 segment. Nevertheless, the dCi is an acknowledged workhorse known for its durability and high fuel efficiency. In the Fluence, it is mounted slightly back, which contributes to the balanced weight distribution.

Getting behind the wheel, you first need to reach down, slot the card in, reach down further to the left and press the start/stop button. From pressing the button, it takes precisely 6 seconds, some clicking of relays, an array of instrument sweeps and a shudder before the engine starts. Watch the video below. That, plus the turbo lag, doesn't make this a getaway car . In comparison, my Jetta takes 3 seconds to start with a twist of the key.

Start her up and the 1.5 is fairly clattery, even when warmed up. From the inside, engine drone can be heard, although it's not too intrusive. The engine produces 109 BHP @ 4000 rpm. Maximum torque is rated at 240 Nm @ 1850 rpm, but in real life, we needed to get the engine to 2300 rpm to feel the torque sinking through. There is noticeable turbo-lag and the Fluence is nowhere as responsive at low rpms as the Jetta & Octavia. Thus, you'll have to use the gearshift (i.e. downshifts) more often in urban traffic. The heavy clutch doesn't help matters either.

To cruise on flat terrain, power on tap is sufficient. Keep the engine on the boil and the Fluence will perform adequately on the open road. This 1.5L diesel feels best between 2,300 - 4,000 rpm, after which there isn't much progress. The engine will revv to 5,000 rpm when required, but you'll do well by upshifting at 4,000 rpm tops. Note that the engine isn't a scorcher and the Fluence 1.5, Corolla Altis 1.4 & Elantra 1.6 have the smallest motors by D-segment standards. Cars like the Cruze, Jetta & Octavia offer vastly superior performance on the highway. In fact, the 2.0 liter diesels of these cars are better in the city too.

When cruising in 6th gear at 100 km/h, you find that the engine spins in the lag zone threshold at 2000 rpm, hampering aggressive progress. I found myself ignoring the gearshift indicator and staying in 5th on the single lane Kollegal - Kanakapura route, where I frequently needed to overtake slower traffic.

You can hear the engine spinning, but it's not too annoying. Though in-car noise while cruising is low, it doesn't meet Jetta standards. Of course, a contributor could also be the harder MRF tyres. When we took the Fluence on the NICE road (Bangalore), the rough surface accentuated tyre roar, and there was some buffeting when overtaking trucks too. On the better surfaced BIAL road, the car was much calmer.

Unfortunately, the heavy clutch of the earlier Fluence still remains. It wasn't so apparent on rural roads, but when we got caught in some bad traffic, the clutch pedal became tedious to operate. The transmission has long throws and the shift has a notchy side to it. You'll get used to the same; after driving for a couple of kms, I was able to make quick shifts without issue.

Where the Fluence is head and shoulders above its competitors is in the area of ride quality and bump absorption. It kept reminding me of the ol' Peugeots. The Fluence flattens bad roads like few cars do. The same stretch of broken tarmac that can feel bumpy in others is dismissed off with arrogance by the Renault. You won't even feel the need to slow down for a bad road, especially at speed. This level of ride quality isn't surprising as the other Renaults (Logan & Duster) also offer superb comfort on our roads.

From a driving standpoint, the Fluence is easy to get familiar with. The car cruises very well and is happy to stay at 100-120 kph all day. While the steering is light, it's not as woolly as an Audi's. On the other hand, you don't get the Jetta's ideal weight & feedback either. There is mild understeer bias, yet the car goes where you point it without feeling dull. The Fluence takes fast bends in its stride and feels planted when cornering tight curves. It does roll considerably though (it is a French car!), due to the pliant suspension. The 168 mm of ground clearance is higher than the likes of the Jetta / Octavia / Cruze and means that the Fluence can deal with most Indian roads without batting an eyelid.

The brakes are discs all round. They were well-weighted and stopped the car from speed with excellent feel.

Notice the lack of under-bonnet cladding:

Petrol Fluence no longer in production. Diesel's fuel economy has won it many fans:

Last edited by GTO : 1st May 2014 at 16:42.
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Old 29th April 2014, 20:01   #6
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Default re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Other Points:

• The Fluence is equipped with 4 airbags (E4 trim) and has scored 4 stars in the Latin NCAP tests.

• The biggest miss is the lack of an automatic option. A CVT would ruin it, a normal torque converter might slow it, but Renault have an ECT dual-clutch gearbox mated to the diesel in other markets. This would be just right for India.

• Feedback from dealers is that the new front end is bringing in some more customers. However, they admit that the small engine / lower power forces prospects to visit VW & Skoda showrooms.

• Existing customers value the ride quality and are mainly chauffeur driven (engine power and heavy clutch don't matter to them). One local mill owner liked the Fluence so much, he bought 3 more for his brothers!

• Warranty is 2+2 years or 80,000 kms.

• 4 colours available - Black, white, silver and beige.

Disclaimer : Renault invited Team-BHP for the Fluence test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 1st May 2014 at 14:42. Reason: 4 airbags, not 6.
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Old 29th April 2014, 20:02   #7
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Default re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Chief Competitors of the Renault Fluence

Hyundai Elantra

What you’ll like:
Fluidic styling makes the Elantra a true show-stopper
• Spacious interiors. Top class quality too
• Comfortable suspension. Especially nice within the city
• Refined diesel & petrol motors mated to smooth 6 speed manual / automatic transmissions
• Loaded with equipment. Ventilated seats, reversing camera, dual zone climate control etc.
• Safety equipment includes 6 airbags, ESP, VSM, ABS & EBD

What you won’t:
• 1.6L diesel engine can't match the outright punch of its 2.0L competitors
• Uninspiring, conventional Automatic transmission. No dual-clutch technology here
• Rear bench is optimised for 2. Thus, the Elantra is best used as a 4 seater
• Ordinary expressway dynamics. Steering lacks feel at high speed
• No MID, folding rear seat and sunroof

Chevrolet Cruze

What you'll like:
• Funky exterior & interior styling
• Well-rounded 164 BHP engine is fast, refined & efficient. Turbo-lag is greatly reduced
• Loaded with equipment (sunroof, keyless entry & go, electric driver's seat, cruise control, rain sensing wipers etc.)
• Good reliability, as proven by the many Team-BHP ownership reviews
• Competitively priced. Variant to variant, the Cruze is priced at the low end of the D1 segment

What you won't:
• The 2,000 rpm turbo kick of the older car is gone. Power delivery is tamer now
• Rear seat comfort is inferior to all direct competitors
• Mediocre interior quality. Just doesn't feel premium enough
• Not as dynamically accomplished as the Europeans
• Lousy JK Vectra OEM tyres & weak headlamps. An upgrade for both is mandatory

VW Jetta

What you'll like:
• Classic, timeless and understated styling, mated with solid build quality
• Fast & efficient 2.0L diesel
• Improved space; rear seat can easily accommodate taller occupants
• Balanced ride and handling. Extremely well-tuned suspension
• Safety kit (ESP, 8 airbags etc.) and 5 star NCAP rating

What you won't:
• Sunroof and leather seats missing from the equipment list
• Interior quality is a grade or two lower than the previous generation Jetta
• Looks uncannily similar to the VW Vento
• Automatic Transmission (DSG) only offered with the Highline variant
• Unimpressive, small 1.4L petrol. 1.8L TSI isn't available with the Jetta

Skoda Octavia

What you'll like:
• Classic European styling & build. Premium quality inside out
• Wide engine range: Adequate 1.4L TSI, economical 2.0L diesel and explosive 1.8L TSI
• Smooth, high-tech DSG. Lightning quick upshifts
• Enhanced cabin room & spacious rear seat. Cavernous 590 liter boot as well
• Loaded with features (panoramic sunroof, electric seats with memory, bi-xenon lights etc.)
• Middle Ambition variant is well-equipped. Has a Diesel Automatic available too
• 5 star NCAP rating. Safety kit includes 6 airbags, ABS + EBD, ESP, EDL and more

What you won't:
• 2.0L diesel & 1.4L petrol get an inferior (torsion beam) rear suspension
• 1.4L TSI has prominent turbo lag at low rpms
• Some niceties missing (paddle shifters, smart keyless entry & go, alloy wheel spare)
• 1.8L TSI isn't offered with a manual transmission for the purists
• Unusually tall floor hump makes things uncomfortable for the 5th occupant
• Long term reliability concerns over the DSG automatic
• Skoda’s ill-famed after sales service & dealer network

Last edited by GTO : 30th April 2014 at 14:25.
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Old 30th April 2014, 14:11   #8
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Default Re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing!

Rating thread a well-deserved 5 stars.
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Old 30th April 2014, 14:45   #9
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Default Re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Great review Ajit. This is certainly one of the best lookers on the road today. It's a pity Renault never managed to get their act right with the Fluence, keeping the diesel sub-equipped at inception, not offering a much-needed AT variant (the ECT would have given VW's DSGs a run for its money, I think) etc. Maybe they hope to do better in the post-Duster scenario!
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Old 30th April 2014, 15:10   #10
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Default Re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Excellent review! It’s a five year old design but looks more contemporary than some of its newer competition (say the new Corolla).

I am a bit disappointed with the base E2 variant though. In the previous iteration, ESP used to be standard across the range, but now they’ve gone with the popular route of comfort features over safety.
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Old 30th April 2014, 15:18   #11
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Default Re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Very very Good looking car and lot of good features. The DRL's and chrome add a lot of spice to the front end.

Full size alloy as a spare:

That's almost 130 grams of balancing weights on a brand new car's alloy wheel. Bummer this.
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Old 30th April 2014, 15:25   #12
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Default Re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

The design of fluence has always been something that stood out from the crowd. Now they have made it extremely pleasing to the eye from certain angles.
The front three quarter view is just great with the changes made in the 2014 avatarA disappointing thing is the transmission.

The heavy clutch is really a deadener to the overall experience which feels more uber and luxurious than the generic ones in the segment.
An auto unit should have their answer to take care of that and with clever ratios and a better state of tune, they could have made the 1.5 tranny suit the customer expectation of the C+ segment.

Last edited by maxbhp : 30th April 2014 at 15:26.
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Old 30th April 2014, 15:30   #13
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Default Re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

I would seriously consider this but only if Renault decides to launch this with an auto box. My laura will be due for replacement soon and with Jetta and Octavia touching almost 23 lacs on road in Delhi, the only option left for a diesel automatic is the Elantra for under 20 lacs.
I sincerely hope that the auto box comes soon. Fluence has everything else going for it-ride comfort, interiors, safety kit etc.

Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
Other Points:

• The Fluence is equipped with 6 airbags (E4 trim) and has scored 4 stars in the Latin NCAP tests.

Does the fluence have 6 or 4 airbags? their website seems to suggest that they have front + side airbags and no curtain airbags. Could you please confirm this?


Last edited by RohanDheman : 30th April 2014 at 15:41. Reason: seeking some clarity on safety
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Old 30th April 2014, 16:40   #14
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Default Re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Originally Posted by humyum View Post
That's almost 130 grams of balancing weights on a brand new car's alloy wheel. Bummer this.
If you look at the picture carefully you will see that the tyre is MRF ZV2K. With MRF's having so much weights for balancing is not new. If it was a Michelin, you will see minimal weights used most of the time.
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Old 30th April 2014, 16:51   #15
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Default Re: 2014 Renault Fluence Facelift : Driven

Looks great and pretty luxurious on the inside. I wish Renault could somehow increase its power, though fuel efficiency might be compromised a bit (they could find a balance), but a sedan like Fluence should produce more bhp. The body looks really solid and sturdy and to my knowledge the suspension is pretty good too.
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