Can the Renault Fluence petrol race ahead in the market?

Renault has entered India with just a two-variant strategy for its Fluence, taking on established players in the segment. For the first time among all carmakers in India, the petrol variant of the car is more expensive than the diesel, as Renault has loaded the petrol Fluence with features and luxury equipment, while keeping the diesel quite basic.

The petrol Renault Fluence will compete with the Skoda Laura 1.8 TSI, the Volkswagen Jetta 1.6, Honda Civic, Toyota Altis 1.8 and Maruti Kizashi.

So how does the petrol Renault Fluence slot in against these cars? Let’s take a look car to car.

renault fluence petrol comparison

Renault Fluence 2.0 vs Toyota Altis 1.8 VL (AT)

The top of the line Toyota Altis is the 1.8 VL automatic. The car comes with leather upholstery, HID headlamps, dual airbags and a multi-CD player. The car puts out 131 bhp of power mated to a 5-speed automatic that’s smooth and easy to drive, and can cruise effortlessly on the highway. It also has good ground clearance to handle most Indian road conditions.

The petrol Fluence though trumps the Altis on equipment levels. The Fluence comes with four airbags, rear AC vents, Bluetooth audio, and a slightly more torque-laden engine mated to a CVT (constantly variable transmission) with six preset speeds. The Fluence is also bigger and slightly roomier than the Altis. The clincher, the Fluence is lower priced compared to the automatic Altis making it a better deal car for car. Both cars feel solidly built and of good quality. However, Renault needs to expand its network in India, before it can truly beat the Toyota.

Winner: Renault Fluence

Specifications Renault Fluence 2.0 Toyota Altis 1.8 VL (AT)
Price (ex-Delhi) Rs. 14.40 lakhs Rs. 14.53 lakhs
Claimed mileage 13.4 kmpl 13.5 kmpl
Engine cc 1997 cc 1794 cc
Power 136 bhp @ 6,000 rpm 131 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 190 Nm @ 3,700 rpm 170 Nm @ 4,200 rpm
Gearbox 6-speed CVT auto 5-speed automatic
Length 4618 mm 4540 mm
Width 1813 mm 1760 mm
Height 1488 mm 1480 mm
Wheelbase 2703 mm 2600 mm
Ground clearance 170 mm 175 mm
Boot space 530 litres 475 litres

Renault Fluence 2.0 vs Honda Civic V (AT)

If you pit the Fluence against the other major Japanese rival, the Honda Civic, the Fluence still comes off looking quite good, though the Civic is lower priced. The Civic is also a smaller car compared to the Fluence and in this segment size is an important factor in image value.

The Honda Civic has a nice futuristic looking dashboard and a sporty driving feel. The 5-speed automatic has a paddle-shift manual mode allowing you greater control of the car. The Fluence has a CVT with 6 presets on the gear stalk. The Civic and the Fluence have almost identical wheelbases, though the Fluence is a much larger car, and offers slightly more equipment levels and safety features than the Civic. However, both cars differ significantly in image, with the Civic seen as the more sporty car, while the Fluence is sober and more likely to be chauffeur driven.

Going by price alone, the Civic is cheaper by nearly Rs. 45,000. In this segment that still makes the Fluence pretty good value for money, but Honda’s image and service network is well established in India and is going to be tough to beat. Honda though has seen an 18 percent drop in sales of the Civic last year, yielding ground to the Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Altis.

Winner: Renault Fluence

Specifications Renault Fluence 2.0 Honda Civic V (AT)
Price (ex-Delhi) Rs. 14.40 lakhs Rs. 13.96 lakhs
Claimed mileage 13.4 kmpl 13.1 kmpl
Engine cc 1997 cc 1799 cc
Power 136 bhp @ 6,000 rpm 132 bhp @  6,300 rpm
Torque 190 Nm @ 3,700 rpm 171 Nm @ 4,300 rpm
Gearbox 6-speed CVT auto 5-speed automatic + paddle
Length 4618 mm 4545 mm
Width 1813 mm 1750 mm
Height 1488 mm 1450 mm
Wheelbase 2703 mm 2700 mm
Ground clearance 170 mm 170 mm
Boot space 530 litres 405 litres

Renault Fluence 2.0 vs Skoda Laura 1.8 TSI Ambiente

When you compare the Renault Fluence with the petrol Skoda Laura, things get interesting. The Skoda Laura is powered by a 160-bhp turbo-petrol engine mated only to a 5-speed manual transmission. The Laura has plenty of torque and is a fun-to-drive car. So if you love driving, you will love being behind the wheel of the Laura petrol. On the other hand, it does not have the level of safety equipment like the petrol Fluence such as four airbags and stability control. Boot space though is a lot more in the Laura and it is equally solidly built compared to the Fluence.

When you throw in the pricing, the Skoda Laura seems much greater value at nearly Rs. 1 lakh cheaper than the Fluence. If you are going to be driving most of the time, pick the Laura.

Winner: Skoda Laura

Specifications Renault Fluence 2.0 Skoda Laura 1.8 TSI Ambiente
Price (ex-Delhi) Rs. 14.40 lakhs Rs. 13.49 lakhs
Claimed mileage 13.4 kmpl 13.3 kmpl
Engine cc 1997 cc 1798 cc
Power 136 bhp @ 6,000 rpm 160 bhp @ 4,500 rpm
Torque 190 Nm @ 3,700 rpm 250 Nm @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
Gearbox 6-speed CVT auto 5-speed manual
Length 4618 mm 4569 mm
Width 1813 mm 1769 mm
Height 1488 mm 1485 mm
Wheelbase 2703 mm 2578 mm
Ground clearance 170 mm 164 mm
Boot space 530 litres 560 litres

 

Renault Fluence 2.0 vs Volkswagen Jetta 1.6

Here there’s hardly a comparison. The Volkswagen Jetta petrol is much lower powered than the Fluence and does not offer as much punch as the Fluence does. It also is available only as a manual transmission version. However, in terms of safety equipment the Volkswagen Jetta scores pretty high, with six-airbags as standard. The car also has rear AC vents like the Fluence and is good to travel in.

The Jetta is considerably cheaper as well, but is at best a car to be chauffeur driven in. If you want power and decent equipment levels, then the Fluence actually appears to be a value-for-money deal, with higher specifications and power. It is also larger than the Jetta and that could be the dealmaker between the two.

Winner: Renault Fluence

 

Specifications Renault Fluence 2.0 VW Jetta 1.6 Trendline
Price (ex-Delhi) Rs. 14.40 lakhs Rs. 12.99 lakhs
Claimed mileage 13.4 kmpl 13.8 kmpl
Engine cc 1997 cc 1595 cc
Power 136 bhp @ 6,000 rpm 101 bhp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque 190 Nm @ 3,700 rpm 148 Nm @ 3,800 rpm
Gearbox 6-speed CVT auto 5-speed manual
Length 4618 mm 4554 mm
Width 1813 mm 1781 mm
Height 1488 mm 1459 mm
Wheelbase 2703 mm 2575 mm
Ground clearance 170 mm 164 mm
Boot space 530 litres 527 litres

 

Renault Fluence 2.0 vs Maruti Kizashi CVT

Unless you are looking at setting the race tracks on fire or set some scorching inter-city speed records, the Renault Fluence definitely looks like the more value-for-money car compared to the Maruti Kizashi CVT. The Kizashi is a fast car and great to drive, and has a very powerful engine. But it is considerably more expensive than the Fluence. In terms of equipment levels, the Kizashi too is fully loaded, with six airbags, traction control, paddle shifts, electrically adjustable front seats to name a few.

But when you look at the price, the Fluence may be slightly less equipped, but is Rs. 3 lakh cheaper. The Kizashi would be great value when compared to the Honda Accord or Skoda Laura L&K, but appears expensive compared to the Fluence.

Winner: Renault Fluence

Specifications Renault Fluence 2.0 Maruti Kizashi CVT
Price (ex-Delhi) Rs. 14.40 lakhs Rs. 17.5 lakhs
Claimed mileage 13.4 kmpl 12 kmpl
Engine cc 1997 cc 2393 cc
Power 136 bhp @ 6,000 rpm 176 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 190 Nm @ 3,700 rpm 230 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Gearbox 6-speed CVT auto 5-speed CVT auto
Length 4618 mm 4650 mm
Width 1813 mm 1821 mm
Height 1488 mm 1480 mm
Wheelbase 2703 mm 2700 mm
Ground clearance 170 mm 145 mm
Boot space 530 litres 460 litres

What we think

Renault, though a late entrant into the Indian market, seems to have studied the segment that it’s operating in pretty well. It has matched most of its rival on power specs and equipment levels, and is visually much bigger than most. And that’s what buyers in this segment will be looking for, a big car that conveys a sense of status. On that count, the Fluence checks all the right boxes. Renault at present has 14 outlets for the Fluence, which it plans to increase to 40 by the end of the year and 100 by 2012. Once it gets that network in place, the Fluence is going to be a strong competitor to the Honda Civic, Skoda Laura and Toyota Altis.