Strong in-Fluence

Will the Renault Fluence be able to hold its head up high in the competitive mid-size saloon segment?

By David Light

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Published: Sat 13 Nov 2010, 9:43 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:59 PM

A FRIEND ONCE said, when confronted with a top of the range two-seater sports car, “if it doesn’t have four seats, it’s not a car. It’s not even road worthy!” Strong sentiments you’ll agree, but feelings none-the-less, that are expressed by a number of road users. For many drivers owning a car is not about performance or looks and especially not image, it’s all about space and not paying over the odds for it.

Of course that is not to say that a box on wheels will suffice. There have to be elements of desirability or the world would be awash with cheap Korean cubes and Ford Transits. However, a comfortable family car provides enough space to cart around anything you want and still won’t look out of place in almost any situation. In this segment, though, there are hundreds to choose from.

So what makes the Fluence so special? Well, surprisingly, the Fluence’s greatest asset is that it’s not special. There are some trappings of aspiration when you look at it. The lines are rather nice and the cool fog lights on the front give it an edge, but overall this is just simple, honest motoring at its finest.

The Fluence comes to the UAE with local driving conditions taken into consideration. Specifically designed for the hot Middle Eastern climate, no effort has been spared in terms of interior air cooling. Automatic dual-zone climate control is available, offering personalised climate comfort that enables the driver and front passenger to select individual temperature and fan-speed preferences, while adjustable rear vents also provide the perfect balance between the front and rear of the vehicle.

Sat inside with your individual climate preferences set, the cabin environment is serene and welcoming. Decked out in leather and with an easy to use central control column, this car transports you to a world of simplicity. There is nothing tricky about it, just relax, turn on the engine and go. The only strange aspect to report is that in the model tested the driver’s seat has electronic controls to manoeuvre it to fit your shape, whereas the passenger seat has to make do with manual levers.

Under the bonnet the Fluence comes with a Renault-Nissan 1.6-litre engine combined with CVT or manual gearboxes. A Renault-Nissan 2.0-litre engine is also available. This power is teamed with a smooth on-road performance thanks to the decent steering, handling and suspension with minimal noise and vibrations. The Fluence provides a pleasant driving experience, nothing to blow your socks off, yet a decent ride for your money.

And that pretty much sums things up. What do you get when you drive a Fluence, a nice time and a decent family car with the trimmings of luxury and a fair amount of space. Can it hold its head high? By providing exactly what it sets out to, yes.

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