A sensible choice for the daily commute? Gerald Yuen grills Renault's turbodiesel Fluence.
What is it?
A car that beckons to traditionalists who favour the conventional three-box sedan – a car that includes all the basic necessities for both driver and occupants. The car in question is Renault’s Fluence.
No frills? Wha...?
Modern cars filled with tech-laden features would be well received by those who value gadgets, sometimes at the expense of outright usability and functionality. This might not be an entirely bad thing either, as it supplies cars with a more refreshing approach, breaking away from norms in an attempt to “excite” consumers behind the wheel. This sedan could very possibly be one of the more logical choices for families in Singapore. (Ed: we're not saying the Fluence is literally no-frills, but rather, it has just the right amount of equipment to make your journeys comfortable and enjoyable, which is all that really matters.)
For a start, it looks decent in its facelift guise. A larger Renault badge, sleeker headlights, LED Daytime Running Lights and a more prominent front grille gives it a sportier aesthetic than its predecessor. In the cabin, you’ll get to enjoy no lack of headroom and legroom. We tried to house three “larger-than-life” adults without any issues, an advantage for a car that looks sharper and arguably more premium than conventional rivals like the VW Jetta And the Toyota Corolla Altis. The 530-litre boot space (largest of the trio) makes the weekly grocery shopping a fuss free affair too, serving as a hugely tempting proposition as a family companion.
Surely there would be some nice things inside...
Yes, the centre console now boasts Renault’s all-encompassing infotainment system dubbed “R-Link”. It’s intuitive, but still needs some getting used to compared to other in-house infotainment systems like the one in the Jetta. There’s an “Eco Trip Report” feature too, on days when you prefer to challenge yourself to be light on the pedal. Another cool feature is the factory moonroof, which the occupants will appreciate on cooler evenings.
How green is it?
Despite its green-centric approach, the Made-in-Turkey Fluence is still a rewarding hauler at heart from a performance standpoint – a 1.5-litre turbodiesel motor replaces the older 1.6-litre petrol. This engine is identical to that of the quirky Captur compact SUV, but power is bumped up from 90bhp to 110bhp for the Fluence. And yes, you might be bothered by the diesel clatter most of the time... (Ed: but you don't really hear this from the cabin, which is where it really matters.)
There’s no lack of low-end grunt (240Nm at 1750rpm) to bring you through Singapore’s cut-thrust traffic. The torque will taper off if you venture into the upper range (at least for diesel units) and nail the throttle. As with most diesels, riding right smack within the wave of low-end torque is more than sufficient for local motoring needs. Paired with the six-speed dual clutch unit, it makes respectable progress without any hint of jerkiness – an attribute that bodes down well with family-oriented cars that place an emphasis on comfort over sportiness.
What we like about the Fluence is that it doesn’t try to hard to step out of its comfort zone with perceived sportiness. Rather, it ticks the right boxes in practicality, efficiency and its ability to achieve a free-flowing, stress free pace most of the time. The big question though – can it be a volume seller? Given its comfortable yet utiltarian appeal, it could well seize a handsome slice off perennial favourites from Volkswagen and Toyota before long.
Get fluent with the Fluence at www.renault.com.sg
Renault Fluence Privilege
Engine: 1461cc, 4 cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: 6spd dual-clutch
Top speed: 185km/h
Fuel consumption: 4.4l/100 km
Kerbweight: 1320 kg
Price: from S$109,999 w/COE