For better or worse, the new 2011 Renault Fluence is now officially available for sale in the GCC, having been advertised in UAE newspapers for weeks now.
Apparently manufactured in Korea instead of Turkey, the GCC-spec Renault Fluence was originally developed for markets with “lower expectations” such as Russia and Romania, and will soon be sold in 80 countries but not in Western Europe. As such, it is also being marketed as being designed for the GCC. The Korean-built Samsung version for the Middle East comes with a different front end than the Turkish-built Renault Fluence, which took us quite a while to actually notice.
In a bit of trivia, this version is known as the new Samsung SM3 in Korea. Eagle-eyed enthusiasts would realise that the old Samsung SM3 is actually on sale in the UAE as the Nissan Sunny currently, which makes us wonder what will happen to that long-forgotten fleet special.
The Renault Fluence made its UAE debut to little fanfare at the 2009 Dubai Motor Show in December last year. Along with the Safrane, Logan and Sandero, Renault as completed its transition from a mildly-premium French manufacturer to a global budget-minded carmaker.
Measuring 4,620 mm long, the Renault Fluence falls somewhere between a compact and a midsize. It competes in space and features with midsizers, but lines up in price and power with compacts.
The Fluence uses Renault-Nissan engines, with the base one being a feeble 112 hp 1.6-litre engine with a choice of 5-speed manual or CVT automatic. A 143 hp 2.0-litre engine with a CVT becomes available from October, and we’d suggest waiting for that one.
While other non-French Renault models have been stripped of safety features, the Fluence has a respectable amount of kit, with standard ABS and emergency braking assist, three-point seatbelts with pretensioners, and two front airbags. Stability control, side airbags and curtain airbags are optional. Front brakes are ventilated discs while the rear ones are drums. The suspension is independent MacPherson struts up front and a simple solid-axle torsion beam in the rear.
Renault, who own Nissan, says the Fluence was “specifically designed for the hot Middle Eastern climate,” which likely means it has a Nissan a/c. Dual-zone climate control is available, with rear vents.
Other largely-optional features include hands-free entry and ignition card with automatic locking, a wide range of audio options including the range-topping 3D Sound by Arkamys system, Bluetooth telephony and ‘Plug & Music’ digital connectivity. A top-spec Bose stereo system is also available, as well as rear parking sensors, sunroof and more. Cruise control is only available on the CVT models. Unlike some other markets, navigation is not available for the GCC.
All Fluence models will be sold with a 3-year/100,000-km warranty and benefits from Renault’s Customer First programme.
Keep track of UAE prices and GCC specs in the Renault Fluence buyer guide.