Plans are afoot to bring the Renault Fluence Z.E. into Malaysia sometime in the first quarter of next year, with the EV set to join the likes of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf in pilot programmes here.

The Turkish-built C-segment saloon is powered by a 160 kg synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, offering 70 kW at 3,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 226 Nm for numbers. It offers a range of 185 km on a NEDC cycle, and has a top speed of 135 km/h.

The 22 kW/h lithium-ion battery pack – weighing 280 kg – is located behind the rear seats, which explains the Z.E.’s largish rear; the electric Fluence is 4.75 metres long, which makes it 13 cm longer than a conventionally-powered Fluence.

Some sacrifice has to be made in terms of boot space due to the battery housing, but there’s still 317 litres on call, and access to it is easier thanks to a low sill and wide aperture. It takes between six and eight hours to juice up the unit completely in standard mode, but at fast charge – using a 32A 400V supply – the unit can be replenished in 30 minutes.

In terms of EV defining cues, the car is defined by a number of blue-tinted details, from the lights and fog light surrounds to the front and rear Renault logos as well as the Fluence badge. The car also features entirely redesigned rear lights – including a strip of blue-tinted diamond shapes – plus a specific, more open grille design.

Safety kit includes ABS and emergency brake assist, EBD, ESC, front airbags as well as front side airbags, and on the features list are cruise control and auto dual-zone air-conditioning.

An example was in town, on loan from Wearnes Singapore, for the recent IGEM exhibition at the KLCC. The car heads back to the republic today, but there was a chance to sample its workings very briefly yesterday at TC Euro Cars’ PJ showroom.

The drive was short, under two kilometres, so the impressions are really very brief; the car had been going at it since morning, and the juice was starting to fizzle dry – when I got in, there was only 15 km of available range left.

As far as driving experience goes, all the associated drive characteristics of an EV are here – there’s that silent linear surge when you floor things, and the drivetrain certainly has enough pep to haul the mass along, even with five occupants in the car.

Compared to something like the i-MiEV, the Fluence Z.E.’s workings are undoubtedly more refined, much of it to do with the car itself. The Renault is for all intents and purposes a full-fledged sedan, just with an electric propulsion system. The interior is comfortable, if a bit threadbare, but as far as plushness goes it’s ahead of the likes of the Leaf and i-MiEV.

Other than that, there’s little to tell you’re in an electric, save for the instrument meter cluster and its minor differences. An ‘energy gauge’ indicates the battery’s level of charge, in the same way as a conventional fuel gauge, and the on-board computer displays essential information such as instantaneous and average fuel consumption, range, battery charge and discharge.

A quick note about the range readout – whereas something like the i-MiEV displays the maximum approximate range you can get from it at all times, the Renault’s numerical readout shows an 80 km range even with the car fully charged, and it isn’t until the maximum range drops to 80 km according to the OBC that the readout starts readouts dynamically.

It isn’t really an issue, because that’s what the analogue gauge is there for, and 80 km is more than enough to get you to the nearest charge station, or home for that matter. The Renault’s tracking of remaining available range looks quite dynamic though.

Also noted, that unlike the i-MiEV, the air-conditioning has no effect on the OBC calculations – on the Mitsubishi, switching the AC on drops probable range on the readout by around 10 km in most cases, but doing so with the Fluence Z.E. changes nothing in terms of numbers.

Still, these are just quick bites – expect a more comprehensive take on the car when it arrives here next year.