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Renault Fluence Privilege 2011 review

Fluence? It's an odd sort of name and one that seems to be missing an `in' or perhaps an `af' at the beginning. But let's not sell Renault's stylish new Fluence short because it happens to be one of the better offerings from the French car maker. Reintroduced to Australia in 2001, it's fair to say that Renault has failed to make a major impact in the last 10 years.

But, of late, it seems to have pulled out all the stops in what it describes as the "revitalisation" of the brand. With driveaway deals and offers of free scheduled servicing it could well be a last roll of the dice.

For those not up to speed Fluence is the sedan version of the well regarded Megane hatch with its rouned bustle shaped back. The two cars share the same engines and many of the same underpinnings.

But rather than the current Megane, Fluence is in fact based on Samsung's SM3, which in turn is based on the previous generation Megane. The Samsung branded car made its first appearance at the 2009 Seoul Motor Show.

PRICE AND FEATURES

Priced from a driveaway $22,900 you can have either the Fluence or Megane hatch for the same price. Despite being described as small, Fluence is actually quite a large car, bigger and with a longer wheelbase than the Holden's Cruze. Our test vehicle, the $29,990 Privilege, is powered by a 2.0-litre engine paired with CVT style continuously variable auto.

The car comes with six airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution. As well as leather and climate air, a sunroof and satellite navigation are both standard with this model. Bluetooth is also included as well as AUX and USB connections for music players which can be controlled from the steering column.

There's also cruise control with speed limiter, automatic lights and wipers, as well as fog lights and rear parking sensors. Fluence is offered with a five-year/unlimited kilometre factory warranty -- the longest of any European brand. You also get five-years of 24/7 roadside assistance.

The design of the audio/airconditioning modules is ordinary at best. Fluence is yet to be crash tested but is likely to score a full five stars for safety like other models before it.

TECHNOLOGY

The four cylinder petrol engine, shared with Nissan's Dualis, produces 103kW of power and 195Nm of torque, and will run on standard unleaded, although 95 is recommended. With a 60-litre tank, fuel economy with the CVT is rated at 7.7 litres/100km but we were getting about 9.2 litres. The CVT is designed to optomise power and economy, with no discernible gear changes.

DRIVING

Like the previous Megane sedan, this one is a good size, drives well and has a good-sized boot with a full-sized spare. But rear headroom is compromised by the stadium-style elevated seating position.

Inside, more thought needs to go into the instrument layout, like the location of the cruise/speed limiter switch marooned between the front seats. We'd also suggest ditching the remote control that goes with the built-in TomTom satnav system.

VERDICT

Overall Fluence is a more convincing offering but we were left wondering whether it has that "je ne sais quoi" that will attract people buy it? Time will tell . . .

Pricing Guides

$7,330
Based on 6 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,990
Highest Price
$7,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Dynamique 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $6,950 – 7,990 2011 Renault Fluence 2011 Dynamique Pricing and Specs
Privilege 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $5,940 – 8,360 2011 Renault Fluence 2011 Privilege Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$3,990

Lowest price, based on 8 car listings in the last 6 months

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