First Drive Renault Fluence Z E Car and Van News

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Renault Fluence Z.E. Electric Cars

First Drive: Renault Z.E.

February 21, 2012 0

What is it: Four-door electric saloon

Key features: Renault’s passenger electric car on sale

Our At last Nissan’s Leaf car (EV) has a direct rival, and it from sister brand

The Fluence Z.E. is a four-door saloon, the second prong of intensive four-vehicle EV strategy began last autumn the Kangoo van. It will in April with the car/scooter Twizy and at the end of the year the one everyone’s for, the Zoe supermini.

The Fluence is not a EV – since 2009 Renault has it in petrol/diesel form in markets on mainland Europe) where body styles are rather popular. It fills the gap left by the not to make a saloon version of the Megane, though it is a bigger

Converting the Fluence to an EV makes it bigger, simply achieved by the rear end by 130mm and putting the ion battery pack behind the seats.

As a result, while a reasonable profile, the Fluence suffer from a degree of effect – it’s noticeable parked alongside traditional portraying itself as “one of slightly odd electric cars” others, notably Vauxhall’s are more successfully integrating into the mainstream.

There are nice styling touches – I like the cool blue to the chromework, apparently a cue reserved for EVs.

Slip inside and is plenty of room up front and in the Open the boot and you might that the large bluff hiding the batteries has resulted in being compromised. In fact the same 310 litres as the stock just an awkward shape, and not very long.

Ahead of the driver the dash quite normal, except the rev counter has been replaced by appears to be a very large gauge but is in fact a range – Renault does not want you out of battery juice… There is an econometer, a needle gauge moves into a red zone you are driving in a fashion that up battery power.

Turn the key to on, put the gear lever in drive and happens. Take your off the brake and the car moves almost forward – almost because is the tiny whistle of the electric rather supercharger-like, that in intensity as you increase speed, never to a level that is


There are some techniques to when driving an EV of this not least the fact that all the and torque is available instantly – the throttle when moving and the tyres can briefly break

The Fluence accelerates cleanly and – while the 13.7-second 0-62mph is not that quick, getting is seamless, so you arrive at the typical traffic speed of 30mph or so more rapidly than you expect.

That acceleration without pause up to the electronically-limited of 84mph and once you get used to it, the handles with confidence.

downhill the ‘engine braking’ makes itself felt, the car markedly without any need to use the brake. You might be tempted to the stick into neutral, but you want to be doing this as regenerative braking is putting extra juice back the battery.

Similarly while motorway speeds stretch the of a traditional car, they are bad for EVs as the lack of significant downward means no regenerative braking and a shorter range.

The official test range of the is 115 miles. My first drive, included some harsh suggested a ‘real-world’ range of 70 to 80 will be the norm, and the Renault on the event concurred with

Where the Fluence does let down, however, is in the charging. there is no fast-charge option, and a recharge can take anything six to eight hours.

The only extra aid is an optional cable will give you a possibly 25 miles of travel after a charge. Renault says a charger is coming, but can’t say – or if the first Fluence owners be able to use it on their cars.

Renault doesn’t shout the fact, the Fluence’s direct is the Leaf from sister Nissan, and there are reasons to the Renault, mostly on price.

The Fluence sells from but unlike with the £26,000 you have to add on a monthly battery price – Renault prefers to responsibility for its batteries in house (In where many Fluences are sold, there are a network of change stations’ where the car in and the discharged battery is automatically from underneath and replaced a charged one – just like to a petrol station…).

Battery costs vary depending on the of contract the owner signs up for and annual mileage. But with motoring you could buy a Fluence and own it for years and pay around £5,000 than its Nissan rival.

Is the a viable option? If you tool a motorway on a daily basis, no. But if daily commute totals 60-70 miles in a significant of urban traffic, or you can drive 60 to work and then plug the car in all then yes, it might be worth looking at.

Key specification:

Model Tested: Fluence Z.E. Dynamique

On 1st March 2012

Price: (range starts £17,495) – hire from £69.60 per

Engine: Synchronous electric

Power (bhp): 94

Torque 167

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