Now sporting the new Renault trademark façade, the Renault Fluence may be prettier but is still the same small family saloon underneath.
The Renault Fluence is available with just one diesel engine with two varying power outputs. The diesel is 1.5 litre four cylinder engine available with the choice of the dCi95 with 95bhp mated to a 5-speed manual or the dCi110 with 110bhp mated to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The dCi110 is probably the best option to go for giving the best blend of performance and economy. The manual gearbox is also the better option as the automatic can feel a little sluggish and slow to change gear.
The Fluence is a very comfortable motorway cruiser and will consistently eat up the miles in with ease, being its favoured driving environment. Its suspension setup is very supple, but this becomes very evident on the corners where body roll is considerable. The Fluence lacks the sporting drive and feel you get from the Megane and the steering also lacks any feedback.
The Fluence comes with the choice of four trim levels to choose from. These are Expression, Dynamique, Limited and R-Link. Again, standard equipment is not quite as generous on the Fluence as it is with other Renault models, the entry level Expression benefits from just hands free keyless entry, electric front windows, manual air-conditioning and 15 inch alloy wheels. With quite a small difference in terms of price between trim levels, the top of the range R-Link is the best value and comes with the R-Link 7 inch infotainment screen with Sat Nav, half leather upholstery, leather steering wheel and 17 inch alloy wheels.
The Fluence has a nice feeling of quality about it overall. The cabin does feel a little dated at this stage in its life and without the R-Link system, it lacks any real modern appeal. Without it, the centre console becomes a bit confusing due to the amount of buttons that spread across it. The dashboard may not be the most appealing to look at in the Renault range, but there is a nice use of quality materials throughout the cabin with contrast chrome trim on the dash and centre console.
The Renault Fluence scored 4/5 stars in Euro NCAP crash testing. It may not have achieved the full five star ranking but it is a very safe family car. It comes with a decent level of standard safety technology too that includes anti-lock brakes, emergency brake assist and ISO-FIX child seat connection points.
The Renault Fluence goes up against rivals like the Skoda Rapid, Ford Focus saloon and Mazda 3. Each of the three aforementioned pack better quality interiors. The Fluence on the other hand feels spacious inside and provides good levels of comfort for front and back seats passengers. Boot space is very impressive standing at 530 litres leaving plenty of room for luggage and large items. The rear seats also fold forward to open up the rear of the cabin for further versatility.