You’d think a Renault Fluence is just a Megane with a boot. And you would be wrong in your judgement. Here’s why in an article worthy of CSI investigations.
The Renault Megane II once came with a saloon version, but for some reason known only to the baguette eaters at Renault, the Megane III didn’t come with a hatchback version, but when they saw that there were people for whom the car had to look like a car, they decided to launch the Renault Fluence.
Who are these mystery buyers?
Given that in 2009 we were already feeling the crunch, people had stopped buying wardrobes on wheels like the BMW X5, VW Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and all their four-wheel drive and leather seats with massage. The world is moving from SUVs back to compacts and now the hot hatch era is beginning. So the saloon is suffering in a market increasingly restricted to the classic car concept.
Not so in Eastern Europe, where the car must be the car, the woman must be a woman, alcohol must be alcohol and the meal must be a meal. You’re not going to buy a compact, because you can’t fit a pig and a jug of wine in the trunk at the same time. You’re not going to leave the pig in the street. And you’re not going to buy a Touran, which is essentially a van with windows. No, somewhere in the Balkans they’re still buying saloons. Maybe it’s a reluctance towards the new, maybe they’re traditional? Who knows. What is certain is that the Renault Fluence has had some success in the East, being one of the few cars that even the East Europeans can afford. Especially because Renault understood exactly the customers and put on Renault Fluence only simple, practical engines and bought intensively.
Renault Fluence or VW Passat B6?
It is often discussed whether it is worth a new Logan or a second-hand car. But in the tiny world of saloons, the discussion around 2010 was new Renault Fluence vs used VW Passat B6.
- A new Renault Fluence was much more reliable than a Passat B6, in fact, even a used Fluence was more reliable than a Passat B6. However, in terms of comfort level, engines and equipment, a Passat B6 was far superior. And then came the important one: A Renault Fluence is a Renault, not a Passat. The badge and social status is all the more important in the Balkans.
- However, for the typical Renault Fluence driver, the badge means little. They are usually 40 years old, with 2 children, a decent job and an armrest full of tissues and pills. They do sport during the week and go for 5 beers on the weekend. They get up at 5 am and do their morning exercise. Sends “good morning, coffee’s ready” messages on Facebook. Basically, drivers of Skoda Octavia II but who drove a Renault Fluence.
Why did people buy the Renault Fluence and not something else?
- Price always matters to the responsible family man in his 40s. Renault has always played aggressively on the discount side, especially as Renault was coming off a disastrous reliability period (thank you Laguna II).
- Being almost a Megane III with a hatchback and coming with many offers and promotions, the Renault Fluence was a popular fleet car. And when the cars came out of the fleet they were usually sent to their own employees’ garages for prices equivalent to 5 beers. A sensible choice, for sensible sales agents.
Renault Fluence Engines
- 1.6 petrol of 110 horsepower – The base engine for the Renault Fluence does the basic job decently. There are no noticeable issues, the only noticeable issue comes late in life when the engine starts drinking oil. Just like a 40-year-old salesman who later in life starts drinking alcohol. Like engine, like car.
- 2.0 petrol of 140 horsepower – A responsible engine that shares the same appetite as the 1.6 petrol. At 140 horsepower and no problems, this engine would have been perfect for the Renault Fluence. It’s not perfect, however, for the family enthusiast who’s in no hurry to go anywhere because his wife will scold him every time he goes faster than 15 km/h.
- 1.5 dCi with 85, 90, 105 and 110 horsepower – 1.5 dCi, the village bicycle. Installed in everything from the Nissan Micra to the Dacia Logan to the Mercedes CLA, and the engine can be good or crazy. The 85- and 90-horsepower versions use Delphi injectors made in-house between two bottles of rubbing alcohol, and all versions up to 2011 are sensitive to diesel quality and can collect soot. As for general issues, watch out for the particle filter and watch out for the timing belt that needs changing every 60,000 km.
- 1.6 dCi of 130 horsepower – Stolen from the Nissan dumpster, the 1.6 dCi has proven to be a reliable engine with no notable problems except the odd timing chain tensioners premature wear. 1.6 dCi, the engine “to exist”.
Renault Fluence ZE – Coming in 2012, the electric version left the same way it came: with full batteries. Coming with the same drivetrain as the Renault Zoe, the Fluence ZE was more of an image exercise because the Fluence is a long-haul car and electric technology hasn’t yet caught up with sales-agent cars. In any case, it’s good to know that at Renault batteries are rented, not bought, so if there are any issues Renault comes in and changes them.
Renault Fluence General Issues
- The quality of the interior materials is not at the level we Europeans are used to and that’s because the Renault Fluence is made in Turkey and destined for Romania, Turkey and Russia. Yes, ladies, gentlemen and everything in between, the Renault Fluence was exclusive to Romania of all EU countries. That’s because we like the saloon and can put up with more questionable interior quality just to catch a better price. It’s not that serious, you’re not sitting in the wheelbarrow and you’re likely to not even notice the differences between the Megane and the Fluence.
- The EDC automatic gearbox is still an unfortunate chapter in Renault’s history, so the manual version is recommended.
Renault Fluence Verdict
An honest car, made with a dedication to emerging markets. It’s a classic saloon, it’s spacious, it comes with practical and reliable engines, it’s cheap and most people can buy it new. What more do you want from life? Ah yes, social status. For you, the path to the Passat B7 and A4 B8 is that way. But for the practical man who wants something cheap, reliable, simple and good but doesn’t even want a Logan because it’s made from toilet paper that rusts 2 minutes after leaving the factory, the Renault Fluence is just right.
Which engine do I recommend? I don’t know if it makes sense to recommend it anymore because the market has already dictated and decided. For petrol, you’ll only find 1.6 MPI 110 horsepower engines (although I recommend 2.0 140 horsepower), and for diesel, you’ll only find 1.5 dCi. Try to find one with atleast 90 horsepower.