Renault Fluence Diesel E4 - Performance Review
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Performance Review of Renault Fluence Diesel E4
Last Updated at 03:23 pm, May 20, 2013Rating :
The Renault Fluence now gets a revised diesel engine that boasts of better drivability and power.
The Renault Fluence that we have tested here is the E4-D which is propelled by the K9K engine – or the 1.5 dCi diesel engine that it is more popularly known as. This is the same block that powers the Mahindra Verito, the Nissan Micra and Sunny and the Renault Pulse sold in India. Under the Fluence though, it debuted in the 105 PS guise, but in April 2012, Renault upgraded the 1.5 dCi engine to put out 110 PS of power. Renault has achieved this by redesigning the turbocharger and re-profiling the diesel injectors. What this also translates into is a new torque curve. Though the Renault Fluence dCi 110 still produces the same 240 Nm of torque, the low-end is now improved.
It is evident when you drive the Fluence E4 in the city traffic. The earlier mill had very little grunt below 1,800 RPM, but the new one feels better even below 1,500 RPM. Though most of the turning force is available close to 2,000 RPM, you won’t feel a sudden surge of power or unnerving torque steer on the front-wheel-drive mechanism. This makes for very good city drivability and is an appreciated change over the earlier engine. The E2 variant still gets the older 105PS diesel engine but we expect it to be replaced with the E4’s dCi 110 engine soon.
On the highway, the dCi 110 engine feels very relaxed even at triple digit speeds. However, like the Toyota Corolla Altis diesel, the displacement deficit is evident when making overtaking maneuvers and therefore you’ll need to downshift to have enough power on tap. This fact was evident when we tested the Fluence on the Chennai – Puduchery two-lane highway, where you need to overtake multiple cars in one go. The engine also tends to feel a tad sluggish through the mid-range climb as compared to the TDI engines from the VW group.
What I appreciate the most though, is the noise insulation in the Fluence. Even at triple digit speeds, there is very little wind noise. Renault seems to have got the aerodynamics and insulation perfectly right with this car – for even though the ORVMs are adequately large for city and highway use, you won’t hear the airflow whistling over the mirrors. What do you do hear though is the turbo-whistle near the 2,000 RPM mark and quite frankly, its heady than irritating.
When it comes to the handling and ride comfort, the Fluence has a well sorted-out suspension setup. On the highway run, it was soft enough to take on the imperfections in the road surface and even on the potholes there was hardly any thudding. The Fluence handled the speed-breakers well too and did not scrape the underbody even on the tall humps on the ECR highway. Interestingly, in spite of the soft suspension, the Fluence corners pretty well with very little body roll. You also have aids like ESP and ABS/EBD to help you keep things under control. Then there is the electronic power steering which is precise and well weighted for city use. However, on the highway it felt a tad too light at high speeds – especially when the Fluence was gliding over all the undulations.
Overall, the Fluence comes across as a solid package with a great suspension setup, but with a small engine. It definitely doesn’t feel as malnourished as the Corolla Altis, but doesn’t feel as powerful as a Jetta or a Laura either. But as we pointed out, the Fluence is aimed at being a comfortable car for the chauffer-driven customers – and it does a very good job at being one.
The Renault Fluence has addressed the requirements of its consumers within one year of launch – from adding a more feature-rich diesel variant to upgrading the diesel engine for better power and drivability. You won’t feel shortchanged at the price points at which the Fluence variants are available at – but that said, Renault does suffer from (and acknowledge) the fact that it is still time for their brand to be recognized at the same level as a Volkswagen, Skoda or Toyota in India.
However to sum it all up, if I were to buy a car that I would drive on my own, I would look at the Jetta, Laura or Cruze; but to be driven around town I would choose the Fluence over the Corolla Altis because the French car looks fresher, more elegant, more up-market and has a better feel-good factor than the ageing Japanese car.
First Published on 03:07 pm, April 08, 2012