2011 Renault Fluence road test and review.
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear at the outset; the new Renault Fluence definitely isn’t what you would call a classic ‘drivers’ car.
In fact it’s pretty conservative and absolutely straight down the line.
Now that doesn’t mean that there is anything actually wrong with the Renault Fluence, but you can’t help but feel a little disappointed that a vehicle that looks so good is just a bit…uninspiring.
The Renault designers have certainly hit the mark here.
From front bumper to rear bumper, from wing mirror to wing mirror the Renault Fluence is a great looking car.
It looks solid, well-built and dare I say it even a bit sporty.
I would also like to take a moment to highlight the terrific design of the 16” alloy wheels that come standard on the Fluence, they really highlight the terrific external qualities of the car.
Sadly this is where the Renault Fluence starts to disappoint.
The audio, navigation and BlueTooth control system is just too complicated. You have the choice of manipulating the system via the radio control buttons, a steering wheel mounted control stalk, or via a remote control which sits in the centre console.
I like to think I am a pretty tech-savvy person but I struggled trying to make my way through the system due to its complexity, anyone who isn’t up to speed with technology would probably not easily be able to get a grasp of the system.
The air-conditioning system is also too complicated and could prove a distraction as drivers try and manipulate their way through a number of different settings.
The leather seats in the Renault Fluence are firm but comfortable and there is plenty of leg room for adults both front and rear.
The sweeping dash is an acquired taste, there is nothing particularly wrong with the design but some buyers probably won’t take to it.
The general control switches and buttons are all easy to use and have a quality feel about them, and the gauges are clear and concise.
Ride and Handling
A pass mark here for the Fluence so long as the vehicle is driven as intended and that is with a fair degree of level headedness.
It grips well on corners but has a slightly floaty feel that will make you want to pull back if you do find yourself approaching a bend a little on the quick side.
Generally speaking the ride is quite pleasant.
Engine and Drivetrain
The Renault Fluence is powered by a 2.0 litre four cylinder producing 102Kw of power and 195Nm of torque.
Our test car was fitted with Renault’s six speed CVT automatic transmission.
The engine handles the size of the vehicle without too many dramas, if you put your foot down at speed you will be able to quite easily overtake on the highway.
Overall however it just feels inadequate, it feels like the engine was almost an afterthought and it is definitely the weakest link in the Renault Fluence chain.
If Renault could source a diesel engine, or a V6, it would most likely be a huge boost to the vehicles overall credentials.
The 2.0L Fluence would also most likely show a lot more life when matched to the six-speed manual transmission.
Fuel economy however is very good at a combined 7.8L/100.
The Fluence comes standard with ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution, six airbags, and electronic stability control.
ANCAP crash testing is yet to be completed, though Euro NCAP has rated the Fluence at 4-stars.
The Renault Fluence gives you a taste of European motoring at a reasonable price.
Sure it’s conservative and you just about have to be a NASA engineer to work out the entertainment, navigation, and climate control systems, but overall not a bad car for the money.
Just don’t expect the Fluence to get your heart racing!
The 2011 Renault Fluence range starts at just $22,990.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder petrol delivering 102kW and 195Nm.
Transmission: 6-speed manual or CVT (as tested).
Green rating: 3 and a half stars.
Safety: Not tested.
Warranty: 5 years.
Price: From $22,990.