Renault Fluence Initial Thoughts

This is not a complete review of the car, but rather some quick thoughts I have after owning it for a month and having driven it for a little less than 2,000 km.

I previously had a Fiat Grande Punto. I’ve always loved small hatchbacks and I never thought I’d buy a sedan, but I grew out of my B-segment Fiat and I felt that it’s time to upgrade to a C-segment car, and the best choice for my budget happened to be a sedan.

Quality

The car is generally well put together except for the gaps between the body panels and how they fit together, which could benefit from some improvement.

The quality of the interior is quite satisfying. The model I have comes with half leather upholstery and wherever you put your hands you feel nice soft-touch plastics and leather trim. Even the hard plastic parts feel solid and not flimsy.

I have one concern though. There’s a clicking noise the comes out of the steering column when turning the steering wheel. Nothing alarming, so I’ll just wait for my first visit to the service center to have it checked.

Ride

The difference between the ride quality between my previous Grande Punto and the Fluence is night and day.

The Grande Punto had a much harder suspension which makes it seem like both the suspension and my spine are going to shatter into pieces when passing over potholes. The Fluence on the other hand feels much softer and less noisy on potholes, with no significant change in how the car grips around corners, probably due to the bigger wheelbase.

Performance

The 1.6L engine is good. Definitely not built for sporty performance, but good enough for decently-fast acceleration and quick overtaking.

What really makes driving the car so special is the CVT transmission. I won’t go into details about how CVT transmissions work but simply put, it’s a transmission without a gearbox. Instead of the gears, the transmission has a pulley system that gives you an infinite number of gear ratios. The pulleys are constantly changing their sizes to match the engine speed.

When driving the car, this results in a really weird-behaving RPM gauge. Put your foot hard on the gas pedal, and the engine will rev up to 5,500 RPM and just stay there till you lift your foot. You don’t feel the gear changes at all because, simply, there aren’t any. The engine revs will just keep jumping up and down or stay on the same number of revs depending on how hard you’re accelerating.

This kind of transmission might not appeal to everyone, but I really love it.

Equipment

The model I have is really well-equipped. It has auto this and auto that, and quite a lot of sensors.

The Renault Key Card is a joy to use. You just keep it in your pocket and you’re able to unlock and start the car. Walk away from the car and it will automatically lock itself.

I just wish it had bigger wheels because the 16″ ones look hideous with too much rubber around them.

Little Annoyances

The car has a number of little annoyances. First world problems that definitely aren’t deal breakers but make you wonder why couldn’t they just do them properly.

The trip computer has a number of these. It doesn’t calculate trip time, you can only track one trip at a time, it displays fuel consumption in the wrong unit (KM/L rather than L/100km) and the fuel range indicator is wildly inaccurate. All of these are things my much cheaper Grande Punto had/did better.

Another thing is that the steering column-mounted media controls don’t have a way to start a phone call. You can pick up a phone call from there but to start one you’ll have to reach to the central unit.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m happy about my decision. My Grande Punto was an awesome little car that was really fun to drive, but the Fluence is not making me miss it.

Hopefully I’ll be posting a more detailed review later on after I’ve driven the car more.