Renault Fluence Z.E. (2011-2013) review
The all-electric Fluence Z.E. delivers relaxed zero-emissions driving at a sensible price
The Renault Fluence Z.E. is billed as the first all-electric saloon car and it’s based on the combustion engine Fluence sold elsewhere in the world – but not in the UK. Buyers pay for the car and lease the expensive batteries for a monthly fee, and in return they’re rewarded with cheap running costs and zero exhaust emissions.
Engines, performance and drive
Despite only boasting 94bhp the Fluence feels like it has plenty of power. That’s down to the 226Nm torque figure that – unlike a combustion-engined car – is available as soon as you put your foot down. This means acceleration off the line is impressive but it certainly doesn't look it from its official 13-second 0-62mph time.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
Running costs should be less than a combustion engined car, with a full charge expected to cost around £3. The monthly lease price of the battery depends on your mileage but for most it should be £81. Renault is keen to point out that servicing and insurance costs will also be lower than a traditional car.
Interior, design and technology
Although the Renault Fluence Z.E. may be new to the UK, the design itself has been around in Europe for a while now and it’s beginning to show its age. Renault has done its best to make the Fluence Z.E. look futuristic with blue tinted badges and exterior trim but it’s not a particularly exciting design. To fit the large battery pack engineers have had to stretch the Fluence’s body too which makes it look slightly stretched. Inside the cabin you’re greeted by an interior that feels functional and well-built. The dash is covered in soft-touch plastic and there’s a good range of equipment included too. Changes over the combustion-engined car include Z.E. badging on the dash and new dials showing battery charge and energy usage.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Fluence Z.E. is a large car with a spacious interior. There’s room to seat three adults across the back bench while boot space is 317 litres. Normally electric conversions lose boot space because of the bulky batteries but the lengthened body has ensured this figure is identical to the standard Fluence. There’s a wide 1,020mm opening and low 698mm sill which makes loading extremely easy.
Reliability and Safety
People will no doubt have worries about battery technology but Renault offers various warranties and guarantees to give buyers peace of mind. Included in the lease price is breakdown cover if you run out of charge and Renault is committed to providing you with a battery that has at least 75 per cent of the full charge capacity it had when new. The heavy batteries shouldn't pose any extra danger during a crash either as Renault has braced the rear subframe to ensure the batteries can't pierce through into the cabin during a rear impact.