The C-Segment market in Malaysia is certainly flooded with plenty of the usual suspects that it’s easy to forget that there are many notable alternatives in the field.
One such example is the Renault Fluence.
A pleasant refresh was introduced last year to bring the model more in-line with the family look of the brand, and this face-lift addressed one of the main concerns of the previous model - the slightly dated look of the front.
Now incorporating a sleek new look with emphasis on the large diamond badge, the overall design is elegant and pleasing to the eyes.
Our review unit was a Dynamique variant, which comes with all the bells and whistles, namely daytime-running-lights (DRLs) up front, LED tail lamps at the rear and leather upholstery inside.
There’s also Renault’s 5inFluence package included, but more on that later.
The unit also came in a gorgeous new shade called Crimson Red, which certainly was a sight for sore eyes, given how most cars in this segment seem to come in various shades of white, grey and silver.
Getting inside is an easy affair, with keyless entry thanks to Renault’s familiar keycard that can be either left in the pocket or placed into a slot in the centre console.
The dashboard borrows heavily from the Megane III which the car shares its platform with and while it isn’t as flashy as most French car interiors, it is still functional and ergonomically sound. Fit and finish is top-notch and choice of materials seem to be built for the long haul.
The meter cluster still looks reasonably futuristic today, with its central circular digital speedometer and analogue tachometer combo.
Legibility is excellent at night with its soft blue lighting, but in the bright daylight it can appear slightly dull due to the heavily-backward-leaning nature of the meter face which is a rather odd design quirk.
The central multimedia touchscreen interface still feels fresh as is the TomTom built-in navigation system.
The Fluence’s reverse camera is among the clearest in the segment and provides excellent viewing when backing up.
As most European makes, the interior of the Fluence is a comfy place to be in.
Safety is also top-notch with six airbags and Electronic Stability programme (ESP) equipped as standard.
We took a trip up to Batu Gajah, Perak to experience the driving nature of the Fluence.
The car’s suspension is tuned more towards comfort, soaking bumps and uneven surfaces well.
Its CVT X-Tronic transmission certainly feels most at home when driven at a leisurely pace.
Power from a 2.0-litre engine provided adequate oomph to cruise briskly along the expressway.
It isn’t meant to be a very sporty ride, so those hoping for doses of RenaultSport performance will be disappointed.
However, the car seats five comfortably and takes you to your destination without any fuss.
Buyers of the Dynamique variant are also entitled to the 5inFluence, which is a comprehensive aftersales package that includes a five-year (yes, five) manufacturer’s warranty, five years (yes, five again) free maintenance and one year unlimited mileage on Renault genuine parts.
You don’t even have to worry about sending your car to the service centre as Renault will even save you the hassle and pick up your car and return it once its done, and if servicing requires more than 48 hours they’ll even provide a courtesy car for you.
How’s that for first-class customer service?
Overall, the Fluence provides a comfortable and family-oriented alternative to the familiar choices in the segment, and at RM123,481.97 (including GST) full-specced, certainly provides excellent value for money, given its comprehensive specs list and aftersales service.
And also given how it isn’t as common on the road, some exclusivity as well.