Driving Experience of the Fluence - Renault Z.E. Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Driving Experience of the Fluence

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what's it like to drive having only 95 bhp on tap? Is it a snail for overtaking or does the instant torque make up for it?
Yes, the instant torque does make up for it to some extent, especially below 50. Above 50, though, and you notice it doesn't have the bottle for the sort of long autobahn slip-road type accelerations you might like to get up to traffic speeds quickly.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 02:27 PM
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

And how about blasting past a hgv doing 50 mph? Easy? Tricky? Brown Trouser?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 02:36 PM
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

For me, the driving experience is the main - and very big - plus of the Fluence, and EVs in general.

Data such as 95 hp and 84 mph top speed give virtually no indication of what it's actually like to drive.

Initial acceleration from rest (which most of use use constantly) is better than just about anything else, and more important than top speed > 84mph (illegal in UK anyway!).

Ride, space, comfort, are all top notch. Refinement is superior to the best ICE cars.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

I agree it is 'towards' a sublime driving experience. Certainly when you start driving it you get that impression.

It's definitely an experience you can't buy with money in an ICE.

Accel and the feeling of transmission is, of course, very and ultimately smooth, as mentioned is true for EVs generally. Nice. I have always appreciated a smooth transmission and it cannot be improved. Good for overtaking a 50 mph truck.

I have started having a couple of little gripes, though. Firstly I don't really like the steering wheel position. My shoulders ache a bit holding on to the wheel in that particular position for too long. I like the driving position overall, but I can't quite explain why I can't get my arms comfortable. It may have something to do with the over-sensitive steering that doesn't really give as precise a control as I would like. The actual seating position is the best of all EVs, IMHO, (better than Tesla Model S too) but excepting the Kangoo. It's that steering wheel position.

It's also got better headroom, especially in the back, than all but the Kangoo. It is a properly spaced rear that can accommodate big adults, which the Model S can't do in height and the Leaf can't do in width.

Nice legroom in the footwell.

Secondly, it can bottom into road defects with a bit of a jud. Overall, I think it handles potholes quite well. They have done a very good job at providing a chassis that does not make any noises or creaks and clonks, but it is a fairly stiff ride compared with how I, personally, would like it. That might differ to different people of course. Personally, I like to feel a lot of isolation between me and our degraded roads. On smooth roads it is perfect. On UK roads it shows up the limitations of the suspension to soak up bumps. But take that with a pinch of salt as I expect ridiculously high levels of good ride having been brought up on cars such as Citroens and Merc 114s.

The dashboard is very well put together. A couple of teeny noises have appeared, but overall this is one of the solid-est feeling cars I have ever been in, let alone owned.

It has a very low aero-section, Cd of 0.25. There is no wind noise at all. Zero. At any speed. It's pretty amazing actually, and those with the Fluence may not have actually noticed this before because wind noise is so un-intrusive you completely forget you are slipping through air!

Tyre noise is a little on the high side, and I suspect there are better tyres than the ones on it.

Handling is, actually, pretty spectacular. Floor it in almost any situation and it does as the pedal and steering wheel command. 'Goes where it's pointed' I think the expression is.

My third fundamental gripe is probably so slight in most people's estimations that I guess it goes to show how good the rest of the car is. At around 30 to 40mph I get a droning noise off the motor. I can't hear it on rough roads, only smooth ones. Passengers don't seem to hear it at all, but it sounds almost like road noise. It peaks at an indicated 36mph. There is a reduction gearbox whine too under load, but I quite like that. The drone is a heterodyning noise that is a bit tiresome when you start noticing it. My advice is not to go listening for it and turn the radio up.

Much has been said of the small boot. Personally, I have had no problems at all with it and usually leave some extra junk in it most times anyway. It is a useful shape, being long. I also think the given dimensions are for the main volume too, and not for the side pocket where the leads go. In the Leaf, the leads take up extra volume. Also there is a hidden volume under the floor, so overall I consider it to be much more useful than the quoted 320 litres (or whatever they say it is) suggests.

The glovebox is useless. You can't even fit the user manual in it without it bending. On the LHD Fluence, the glovebox is one of the biggest in the market sector. In the RHD it is, clearly, occupying space where something else needs to be.

There is a draft that gets in from under the steering wheel.

Too many menus on the dash trip computer. Should have two readouts, not all in one.

Hateful automatic wipers. Poor rear auto mirror.

Horn should be on the stalk. I dislike the move to have horn buttons on the steering wheel only. I think it is a safety issue.

Megane seats always tend to wear badly on the bolsters.

Keep the scuttle plate drain holes clear. They have been bunged up regularly every 6 to 8 weeks so far.

I'll add as things occur to me.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 05:05 AM
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

It looks like us owners are more or less in agreement. The car is comfortable and well thought out. It reminds me greatly of the 50's and 60's "Auntie" Rovers, with similar dimensions, power and comfort, but maybe these are too old for most of you to have experienced. If it had been badged a Rover (pre BL of course) I wouldn't have been surprised!

Overtaking slower moving vehicles, buses, trucks, tractors and the like is easy-peasy, floor it and steer, though I possibly haven't tried it from 50, more like 45mph. It's really quite dramatic and a lot more secure than holding back, dropping a gear, getting halfway past and finding you're in the wrong gear... you get the idea.

Space and comfort are first class and the driving position is good. Suspension is a bit hard over potholes. I understand that the weight balance front/rear is reasonably equal but there is one stretch of road I travel where one sweeps downhill, round a right-hander and then confronts a sharper left-handed where I can feel the battery pushing the rear off line, I always have to ease off till round that bend.

Interior design is fine, I like the instrument cluster for its simplicity, it tells all you need to know and the computer readout can be set at start of the journey to provide the information you prefer to see - handy if you are trying to drive economically and want power consumption to the fore. The radio and heating controls, lifted from the Megane, are much less satisfactory and I have to take my eyes off the road and scratch my head a bit to make any changes. I wish I could have deminsting far on without heat or aircon.

The boot is a "different" shape to most but very usable. I find the underfloor section ideal for 3 or 4 carrier bags of shopping, stopping then rolling around in the boot proper. My leather seats are still pristime with 5000 miles on the clock, I've tried the cloth seats and was less happy with those.

Donald is right about the drain holes, especially the nearside one, very prone to blocking. I don't however suffer his draught from around the steering wheel or his droning noise at 30-40mph.

Getting a Fluence one is not compromising big car feel. If it had the range, it would I'm sure be a good tourer. The brochure says it has folding rear seats, has anyone found this true? They wouldn't enlarge the boot but might give the dog a platform to sit on that doesn't risk damaging the seat faces.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

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Originally Posted by william
I don't however suffer his draught from around the steering wheel
I didn't notice myself until someone else here pointed it out. If it is cold and you're doing +50mph, hold your hand just in front of the steering wheel height adjuster. Let me know if you can feel a 'gentle breeze'!

Quote:
Originally Posted by william
or his droning noise at 30-40mph.
It would not remotely surprise me that one of the most noise-sensitive people on the planet (i.e. me!) finally gets a hold of one of the quietest cars, but that he will inevitably have ended up with the nosiest example!! To be fair, it is only slight and you don't really hear it unless you're on smooth tarmac. Sounds more like road noise if you weren't 'tuned in' to it. I didn't notice it myself for a couple of months!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by william
The brochure says it has folding rear seats, has anyone found this true?
No, it's not true, as far as I can tell, but it does use exactly the same seat squab and back as the Megane which does have folding seats. You can lift up the squabs, but the backs stay in place, the release buttons are blanked off. No buttons or anything to release that I can see.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 07:47 AM
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

I agree about the fiddliness of the minor controls, which it's taking a bit of time to get used to but the overall feel is of a large, comfortable, even luxurious car.

The Fluence is often described as a small saloon, presumably because it is partly based on the Megane, but I always think of it as a big car, thanks to its physical length, interior space, the way it rides and the exceptional levels of refinement from the electric drivetrain. Only in terms of range (obviously) and arguably boot-space (which in my opinion isn't too bad) does it perhaps not qualify as a big car.

The car it reminds me of most is my dad's Peugeot 504 back in the seventies - a roomy, comfortable, friendly, soothing and relaxing vehicle, qualities that have been lost in a lot of modern stuff.

On the subject of handling - the electric PAS is a bit short on feel, but I find it actually suits the smooth character of the Fluence drive. On the subject of the battery's position, I think this helps front:rear distribution (good) but it is mounted quite high up (less good). Any quirks this introduces into the Fluence's cornering behaviour aren't that relevant at the sorts of speeds I drive at.

But it's the incredibly smooth drivetrain that really does it for me.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 12:43 PM
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectricDave
The car it reminds me of most is my dad's Peugeot 504 back in the seventies - a roomy, comfortable, friendly, soothing and relaxing vehicle, qualities that have been lost in a lot of modern stuff.
Gosh, high praise indeed! I too have a background of Citroen CXs, XMs, Xantias, C5s and even an SM (briefly, couldn't hack the LHD, lack of headroom and slow witted manual box).

Thank you donald for your write up. Miles better than the output from some 20 something berk at Autocar or wherever who's had the car 48 hours and doesn't like the fact he has to adjust his approach to motoring.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 07:30 PM
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

Hi all - I just wanted to add one rather subtle point that might be overlooked in regard to handling. Because the Fluence has a battery and not a fuel tank, you don't get any weight variation between a full tank and an empty tank - ie the battery remains a constant mass, charged or uncharged. Not only does this preserve the near perfect 50:50 weight distribution (front to back) all the time, but it also prevents what we hill-climbers call 'tank-slappers' with unbaffled fuel shifting around the tank in lateral movements such as cornering. Hence a reduced pendulum effect if you get it wrong. But you DO get torque steer if you want it at low speeds like the old Saab Turbo used to have. I agree that it's a very nice drive. Chris
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 07:59 PM
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RE: Driving Experience of the Fluence

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris
But you DO get torque steer if you want it at low speeds like the old Saab Turbo used to have. I agree that it's a very nice drive. Chris
Yes, it's very easy to get a brief scrunch of wheel spin accelerating from rest. Goodness knows what it would be like with TC switched off (if that's possible).

I suspect the front tyres may wear quite quickly for this reason.
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