The Fluence is a brilliant all-electric car with all the creature comforts of a luxury saloon. This silent, carbon-free model takes electric motoring to a new dimension.
The goodAn electric car that looks normal
The badPrice-tag (even with Government grant)
Renault Fluence ZE Dynamique
At last, a fully electric car that doesn’t sound like a dying milk float or look like an ugly box on wheels – introducing the family saloon from Renault, the Fluence ZE.
It looks perfectly normal with saloon-style streamlining, handles exceptionally well and even boasts a very reasonable price tag, unlike many rival electric vehicles.
Prices for this zero emissions model start from just £17,495 and Renault has managed to keep the costs low by introducing a very flexible battery leasing scheme. So on top of the initial outlay will be a monthly charge of between £69.60 and £135 depending on lease-length and mileage.
The Fluence ZE looks great with its beautifully sculpted lines, neat light clusters, 16-inch alloys, tinted windows, body-coloured door handles, black window trim, black door mirrors and twin charging points – one each side of the car.
And once you settle in behind the leather, multi-function steering wheel, the interior also looks very upmarket and normal. That is except for the instrumentation which includes a battery power gauge, standard speedo and colour-coded performance dial to see how well you are driving.
Dark blue is very economical, white is for average driving and red is for rapid acceleration and steep hill climbs – it is this mode that will drain power the fastest.
Once started, there is no noise at all and the only indication that the car is ready is a green “Go” prompt on the power gauge dial. So with the gear selector in drive, it’s away to clock up some silent miles.
If driven carefully, the Fluence ZE seems to have an endless supply of power, although in reality its range is limited to 115 miles, which again is pretty impressive.
The car certainly handles very well boasting 0-62 stats of 13.7 seconds and a limited top speed of 84mph. Road-holding was impressive and it easily held its own with faster moving motorway traffic, although whizzing along at 70mph in virtual silence is a tad unusual.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include a CD radio, cruise control, eco air conditioning, sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic wipers and headlights plus plenty more besides.
The Fluence ZE features regenerative braking, so as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator, the car slows down quite rapidly which means, in reality, you rarely need to use the brakes at all.
The only problem this could pose is for following motorists as no brake lights are evident.
All-round comfort levels are very high and there is ample leg, head and shoulder room for back seat passengers.
The large battery is housed within the boot, although the storage capacity is still fairly generous and includes an under-floor section too.
Elsewhere, there are a number of useful storage options scattered throughout the vehicle.
The model tested was the top-of-the-range Dynamique which was fitted with a few optional extras such as leather upholstery, metallic paint, rear window sun visors and an additional charging cable – this took the asking price from £18,395 up to £20,324.
Renault has fitted a comprehensive range of safety features to the model, including anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, hill start assist, six airbags and lots more.
All in all, the Fluence ZE is a superb family saloon that takes electric vehicles to a whole new dimension. Thankfully, normality has been restored.