The drive

* Renault electric car reviewed * First of four electric cars * Innovative leasing plan for car's batteries...

The drive

We drove the Fluence on a short route through packed London streets, the sort of place where EVs really come into their own.

The 93bhp from its electric motor might not be much to write home about, but 167lb ft of torque available from standstill gives the Fluence a handy burst of acceleration its 0-31mph time of 4.1secs is more important than a 0-62mph time of 13.4secs.

The automatic gearbox (in fact, because of the flat torque curve, it has only one gear) and light steering make it easy to drive, but when you lift off the throttle, the car goes into regeneration mode to capture as much energy from slowing down as possible. That means it feels like you've touched the brakes as soon as you lift off, immediately slowing the car more than you'd naturally expect. It's an unusual feeling that we're going to have to get used to with EVs.

We might not have to get used to the silence, though. These early cars are eerily quiet, but Renault, along with other EV makers, is working on a signature noise' to warn pedestrians of your presence.