Indiandrives had earlier carried on a few details about the launch of the Renault Fleunce in India, the first car from the French manufacturer which would make its Indian debut soon. It would be the first car if many are ready to forget the debacle named as the Mahindra Renault Logan. French flair is what Renault wants to aim at with the launch of the Renault Fluence in India. In a recent interview, the Renault Sr.VP, Global Marketing, Stephen Norman had said that Renault failed in its joint venture with Mahindra because Indian public perceived the French giant to bring out some beautiful car, the ones French are known for, and rather got a boxy Logan. Competition wise, the Renault Fluence in India would go head on with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla Altis and also the Skoda Laura. Here at Indiandrives, we have managed to have a sneak peek at the Renault Fluence bound for India and are sharing those with our readers.
For the looks of this car, frankly we are disappointed. If there is anything lacking, it is the French flair. It doesn’t boast of a radical styling like the Honda Civic or the bold in your face look of the Chevrolet Cruze. What it has is an ugly duckling of a face like the Porsche 911 cars. The oval head lamps combined with a not so longish snout would rather remind one of a Porsche. That ain’t bad for a brand image, is it? The grille is very narrow and similar to a hair comb whereas the bumper and air dam are a bit more expressive. The chrome ringed fog lamps also stand out on this car. The wing mirrors have a chip on them highlighting the turn indicators. Neat, we would say. Also the wheelbase of this car seems more or less the same as the Honda Civic. The door handles are chrome ringed whereas the wheels are 16 inch alloys with the same boring design found on other Indian cars. The coupe like sloping roofline blends neatly into a boot which is quite similar to that of the Fiat Linea in India. The tail lamps look more like a stone age monolithic and have a distinct character to go along with rest of the car. The tail pipe is chrome tipped and peeps out from under the bumper.
While the exteriors may promise big dimensions but it is the interiors which make or break a car. Moreso in the segment that the Fluence will compete in, it would be the quality of materials used. On this count, our source tells us that the Fluence would win hands down and even the quality of materials would eclipse that on the Laura and Jetta. That definitely speaks volumes of the commitment which Renault has for the Indian car buying populace. The dashboard is 4 tiered and the top tier has soft felt leather with two hoods, one bigger than the other. The smaller of the two, actually displays the temperature outside and the navigation system (which may not make it to India). The bigger of the two hoods is under which the three chrome ringed instrument cluster of the Fluence lies. The instrument however look a bit truck like in their execution. The white colored leather 3 spoked wrapped steering wheel is a joy to hold with only the audio and cruise control buttons on it. Rest for the navigation and Bluetooth are operated via a stalk behind the steering wheel. Storage spaces are aplenty inside the cabin with even a mobile holder in the central console. Wing mirrors have electrical adjustment and the inside rear view mirror has got auto dimming function. The door handles are aluminum finished. Build quality looks a wee better than its Germans and Japanese competitors. However we would reserve our final comments until we get to test drive or review the Renault Fluence in India. The upper middle layer of the central console also gets a wood trim whereas the lower one is beige and the last one is high quality plastic. Seats and their arrangement are spot on and even taller drivers wouldn’t have a problem adjusting themselves in the driver’s seat. The rear seats, even though have a coupe like silhouette hanging above them, have ample of head room as also leg room. This is because the seats are placed a bit low. Rear seat passengers get their individual AC controls. The middle passenger would however have to contend with the slight transmission tunnel hump. We would however have wished for a Honda Civic like flat place. Boot space is similar to the others in its class and is said to be a bit more deeper than what the competition has to offer.
The Renault Fluence in India would have a slight problem with its front overhang scraping over speed breakers. It is said that this softly sprung car would have a few centimeters added to its ride height so as to suit the Indian conditions. Ride quality, the single most thing which buyers in this category plonk for is said to be very sorted out. The electrical assisted steering wheel has also garnered high points for its ease of use as also the pretty much attached feeling that it gives on highways. The handling though a bit soggy would delight the “sometimes I feel racer” type drivers. NVH is said to be suppressed to a great extent however upping the speeds would bring on some aural interference. The low rolling resistance tyres also provide immense grip and are suited for most of the occasions.
Engine options are said to be available in the form of both diesel and petrol. Of greater interest would be the 1.5 liter diesel engine which would have a power output of 105 Bhp and 240 Nm of torque. It will be mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. This is the same engine which can be found under the hood of the Logan diesel and also the Micra diesel. Even though the power figures don’t suggest much on paper, it’s the 240 Nm of torque coming in at 1750 rpm and the linear manner that it is made, which makes all the difference. The petrol motor would be a 1.6 liter with an output of 140 Bhp and a 4 speed auto transmission for company. The 6 speed manual would also be available as an option. All wheel disc brakes, reverse camera, ABS, ESP and EBD along with 4 air bags complete the safety package. Fuel efficiency would be top notch like the Logan and in both the avatars. Moreover a LPG/CNG option would be offered later on in the petrol variant.
What Renault wants to achieve in the Indian context is to present the Indian public with a product which is far different from the public perception of the company’s Logan. The New Renault Fluence is one such product which is actually made for Europe and South East Asian countries. It is just being fine tuned for the Indian conditions. Stephen Norman says that Renault is planning to educate the Indian people about French cars since India has only been fed on a diet of homegrown, Japanese or German cars. Moreover he had also mentioned in the same interview that Renault would localize the engine as also some other parts and hence the price of the Renault Fluence can be kept at competitive levels. This car would be assembled in Nissan Renault’s Chennai facility. As far as estimates go, the Renault Fluence price in India would be around the Rs 13-15 lakhs. At this price, Renault have a fair chance of proving themselves again. Hope this wouldn’t be a case of “Once bitten, twice shy”.