Renault invited us to ‘Drive the Change’ in respect of the newFluence E4D sedan. That was when we discovered its change of heart
SO WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE ‘NEW’ RENAULT Fluence E4D? We travelled over a thousand kilometres to Chennai, Renault India’s home town, from where we drove the French sedan to Puducherry (erstwhile Pondicherry), a former French colony, to discoverthe improvements.
Those who are familiar with Renault model hierarchy would have figured out that the E4 is the new top-of-the-line diesel variant above E2. It costs Rs 1.5 lakh more and offers a host of new features not to be seen in the E2, such as rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, leather upholstery, dual zone automatic climate control with separate vents for the rear seats, parking sensor, cruise control and side air-bags, among others.
Apart from these, Renault have also worked on the heart of the car. It is still powered by the 1.5 dCi (K9K) motor, but has been re-tuned and now produces 110 PS of peak power, four PS more than the older version. The maximum torque remains untouched at 240 Nm, but now kicks in early at 1,800 revolutions per minute instead of the earlier 2,000 RPM. This Renault employs a new variable geometry turbo (VGT), simplified air intake path and low inertia turbo to achieve more efficient turbo performance without increasing fuel consumption. More importantly, this improves response at low engine speeds, which makes this 2012 version better to drive within cities: an issue that was pointed out in customer feedback forms and to a great extent ironed out in the new avatar.
The K9K is faster and we reckon that its roll-on figures would also have improved, pointing to a slightly stronger mid-range. This improvement may not come across as an earth-shaking one, but it does make driving the Fluence a better experience than the older model. The turbo lag is still there, but VGT overcomes it soon. The sixth gear and torque available at lower RPM help it obtain good fuel economy. The company claims an ARAI-certified 20.4 litres per litre, which is 1.4 kpl lower than the older E2 model, but we reckon that day-to-day driving would return an average of 13 kpl. We have to keep in mind the fact that the 1.5 dCi is a relatively small engine for a sedan of this size. Both Škoda Laura and Volkswagen Jetta, which are also more expensive, sport a much larger 2.0 Tdi and only the Toyota Corolla Altis uses a smaller 1.4-litre diesel motor, which is at par in terms of the Renault’s price tag of Rs 16.81 lakh (OTR, Pune).
The Renault badge has premium appeal and Fluence’s good quality is not a matter of chance. This car also has great road manners and if only equipment and features were holding you back, then the E4 has almost everything one can ask for.
Story & Photography: Sarmad Kadiri