Renault Fluence : Road Test
The French have landed on Indian shores, and without anybody else's assistance, as before. We take a look at their latest offering, the Renault Fluence, and find out whether it really is the French revolution we've been waiting for, or just another European sedan that can be ignored?
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The French are known for making two types of cars – quirky little hatchbacks which are hip and put the ‘style’ in ‘stylish’ and practical saloons to bring with them some of that French panache, but offer a whole lot of no-nonsense motoring as well (OK, three types, if you count all those MINI vans the French made so popular, but let’s leave that discussion for another day). Looking at the Fluence, it’s clear that it is a car that falls into the latter segment, the one that encompasses elegance and sense in one go. And looking at the kind of stigma the Renault badge carries in India, thanks to the highly competent, yet rather understated Logan, the Fluence is just what the doctor ordered to kickstart the French auto maker’s independent campaign in the country after having parted ways with Mahindra – a fresh face for a fresh start then.
But the Fluence isn’t just a fresh design for India, it’s pretty fresh for the rest of the world too. It’s a fresh car in general, and doesn’t have an illustrious history, or even a dark one for that matter. It pretty much has no history at all, if you discount a concept coupe bearing the same name Renault had showed off in 2004. But the car we have here arrived on the international scene just a couple of years back. The Fluence was unveiled in August 2009 and it went on sale in Europe the following year. Fast forward about a year more and we land up in the present with the beginning of the ‘real’ French automotive invasion of the country. But that’s enough of small talk and it’s time to get to the issue on hand – taking the diesel version of the Fluence for a spin to sort out what’s what and find out whether it’s the sort of car that speaks fluent French, or only manages to do a cheesy Hollywood-esque version of the French accent.
If there is one department where it is almost impossible to fault the Fluence, it is the looks department. While it definitely doesn’t break the mould when it comes to design, the soft curvaceous lines are very easy on the eyes. There is no hard shoulder line to speak of which has become the trend in most cars these days. Instead, the doors as well as the front and rear quarter panels are gently curved and exude a sense of smoothness that you just want to caress ever so gently.
The sharp lines have found their way up front, on the hood where a crease on each side moves from headlights to the A-pillars. Combined with the depression in the middle of the hood and those large, elongated headlights, the Fluence makes a face like a beautiful girl scowling at you, making her look even prettier and making you go “Awwwww”. And while that absolutely rectangular grille does tend to look a little silly in pictures, drawing your attention away from those magnificent lines, in the flesh, it doesn’t hold a candle to the car’s overall presence. As you move towards the back, the Fluence maintains its dignified stance, thanks to its dropping roofline which looks absolutely gorgeous and gives it an ultra sleek look. The shoulder line, or more appropriately the shoulder curve in the Fluence’s case, softly melds into the top of the boot, which too gently curves as it connects to the other side of the car. The result is a rump that gels, sweeps and strokes into a beautiful shape which highly accentuates the long wrap-around tail lights. Overall, the Fluence is a masterstroke of design, combining conventionality with the avant-garde, and one that should appeal to the sentiments of the Indian psyche rather well.
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