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Renault Fluence 2010 Review

JUST as the Jetta is a Golf with a boot, so too the Renault Fluence is a Megane with a boot.

But it is so much more. With a 4.6m body length and 2.7m wheelbase, this is a genuine five-seater that puts this "small car" closer to the medium-sized category.

Yet this isn't the replacement for the Laguna. That's the even larger Latitude which is coming early next year. New Renault Australia boss Justin Hocevar is optimistic that the Fluence will rank alongside the new Megane Hatch and Koleos compact SUV as the biggest sellers in their range.

The Fluence is arriving in our showrooms now in the company's new strategy of two trim levels, Dynamique and Privilege. Hocevar says the two-trim strategy will be less confusing for customers.

VALUE

The Fluence sedan will sell for the drive-away price of $25,990 for the Dynamique manual. It is listed at $22,990, the CVT is an extra $2000 and the top-spec Privilege with CVT is listed at $29,990. That aligns it more closely with the Japanese competitors than its Euro counterparts.

Yet Renault hasn't cut corner on features. The Dynamique includes a smart key card for keyless unlocking and engine starting, Bluetooth connectivity with music streaming and dual zone climate control air conditioning.

Privilege adds satnav, a 3D sound system, electric glass sunroof, black leather upholstery, passenger seat height adjustment with lumbar support, multimedia connection box (aux input socket and USB), rear parking sensors and 17-inch alloy wheels.

TECHNOLOGY

The Fluence shares engine and drivetrain with the Megane Hatch. It's powered by a two-litre four-cylinder engine with 103kW and 195Nm of torque, married to a six-speed manual or a six-step CVT.

Satnav is included on the Privilege trim, but because they have run out of room for buttons on the centre console, you get a remote control. This could easily get lost under a seat and it's fiddly to use, although it does allow back-seat drivers to really tell you where to go.

STYLE

The new Fluence is an elegant small sedan with a generous 4.6m body length and 2.7m wheelbase creating a lot of space for five people.

Streamlined, horizontal headlights and taillights give the vehicle a feline look. It's elegant in its simplicity, but a little fussy around the lower door sills.

Inside, it is an identical setup to the new Megane, except for a larger rear bench, much more legroom and headroom, and, of course, a boot. That cargo area is one of the biggest in its class at 530 litres and the access is wide and low with a flat boot floor and a 60/40-split folding rear seat for carrying long items such as a surfboard.

The cabin is airy and comfortable with plenty of soft-touch surfaces, especially where you might want to rest a bony elbow. There is a lot of chrome around the door handles, instrument surrounds and gearlever knob, and a choice of light or dark leather upholstery in the Privilege.

There are also some practical touches such as a chilled glovebox. Inside and out, the car has a high-quality fit and finish.

SAFETY

All Renaults have a high specification of active and passive safety systems for their class. Standard safety systems include the now-standard ESP, all the usual braking systems and six airbags.

It also features cruise control and speed limiter, automatic lights and wipers, fog lights and rear parking sensors on the Privilege.

DRIVING

The Fluence makes the refined new Megane almost seem harsh. It is eerily quiet, sophisticated and rides with the composure of a much bigger car.

Steering is ultra-light at low speed for easy parking and firms up as speed gathers with a nice weight and feel. Despite its comfy rid, it still swaps direction on twisty roads with aplomb.

Renault claims the Fluence's specific roll angle is 0.42 for lateral acceleration of 1m/s2 compared with a segment average of 0.45. It's all technical gobbledygook, but it means it sits flat in corners and won't make the kids sick in the rear bench.

While the CVT makes the engine scream, the noise is fainter than in the Megane thanks to sound insulation. Inside, it is identical to the Megane, except for the extra room front and back.

VERDICT

The elegant Fluence should win some customers in the growing small-to-medium sedan category with its high levels of features, its sophisticated looks, its quiet ride and its attractive price tag.

Renault Fluence

Price: $22,990 (Dynamique man, $25,990 driveaway) $24,990 (Dynamique CVT), $29,990 (Privilege CVT)
Engine: 1997cc, 16-valve, 4-cylinder
Power: 103kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 195Nm @ 3750rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-step CVT
Turning cycle: 11.1m
Wheels: 6.5 J 16 and 17 inch
Tyres: 205/60 R16 and 205/55 R17
Brakes: 280mm ventilated discs (front), 260mm solid discs (rear)
Suspension: MacPherson struts (front), flexible beam (rear)
Economy: 7.8L/100km
CO2: 184g/km (185 CVT)
Fuel tank: 60 litres
Kerb weight: 1328kg (man) 1369 (CVT)
Dimensions (mm): 4618 (l), 2037 (w), 1501 (h), 2702 (wheelbase), 156 (clearance)

Pricing Guides

$6,160
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$4,400
Highest Price
$7,920

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Dynamique 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $4,400 – 6,490 2010 Renault Fluence 2010 Dynamique Pricing and Specs
Privilege 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $5,610 – 7,920 2010 Renault Fluence 2010 Privilege Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$4,400

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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