RE: Fluence - noises and smoothness
Actually you opened with what I was going to say, which was that for a run of the mill mainstream car the Fluence is pretty remarkable, albeit unloved by the press - who are swayed by bhp and how nice the material on the steering binnacle feels when you press it and whether it's made in Germany - and by the public, who either didn't know what to make of it, or had no idea what it was courtesy of Renault's laughably poor marketing.
I would agree that almost any modern petrol or diesel car is remarkable too for its refinement and overall smoothness, but then the manufacturers have taken a century to make it that way. Big deal, frankly. There is also no escaping the fact that power is delivered in bursts via geared stages, and that torque is something you strain noisily into and out of - and while I enjoyed such foibles of ICE power delivery for many years, it just seems antiquated now. My wife's car is quiet and relaxed but it still ticks over at junctions, still smells in traffic, much like the car in front, and as a manual feels hilariously cumbersome to drive on some occasions, such as when manoeuvring around car parks. You also have to wring its neck and stir the gear lever to get it to move - though I might once have described that as fun, in retrospect, it's just a bit odd. It like is like having an original Sony Walkman vs operating an iPod. They both are good products and engineering game changers that perform the same task, but one is demonstrably superior to the other in almost every regard.
I too have only a handful of cars I am particularly fond of, and the common theme among them all is that they were the ones which exceeded my expectations. Those which came with hype baggage like the Porsche 911 were bitter disappointments - I can tell you that for the money the 911 is really nothing special, and if the rear engine, rear drive layout is so amazing, why has no other manufacturer adopted it? For me so far the Fluence has gone straight to number one.
Donald, I'd be half inclined to get your car checked out if you feel bothered by vibrations and noise, because my car really has none of either. It's also the first thing passengers comment on. That said I'm not sure I'd trust a Renault dealer to locate and fix such issues on a model they've seen a thousand times before, let alone one they'll have no clue about!