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Renault Laguna: Test Drive

Date: 28 August 2007

Renault Laguna
Category: Upper medium
Prices: £15,990-£23,400
Key rival: Ford Mondeo

Renault's Laguna has always had style, but good looks only get you so far and the current model's early reliability issues have haunted it to this day.

So the new car represents a fresh start for Renault, with company boss Carlos Ghosn issuing a list of directives that all boil down to a commitment to deliver quality, both in terms of product and customer service. Renault is putting its money where its mouth is, too, with a new three-year/100,000-mile warranty on all new Lagunas.

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Around half the current range's sales are concentrated on the 2.0 dCi 150, but Renault is now offering greater variety by adding an extra power option, a 130PS. Both have identical economy (47.1mpg) and C02 ratings (158g/km) but the 130 is only available on the lower spec levels and the 150 from Dynamique up. The 150PS is, naturally, quicker too, doing 0-62mph in 9.5secs versus the 130's 10.6secs. There is also a 2.0-litre petrol engine option in both standard 140PS and turbocharged 170PS forms; a V6 petrol and brand new V6 diesel will follow. Some 80% of new Laguna sales are expected to be dCi models.

Of greater interest to more frugally minded business users, however, is the new 1.5 dCi 110 with CO2 of just 136g/km. And at 18% the new model offers a 3% BIK saving over the best-selling 2.0 dCi, together with cheaper insurance and running costs.

For a small engine it does a decent job, with sluggishness off boost quickly giving way to decent thrust. It's no rocketship, but for many the lower costs will more than compensate. But it is likely the 2.0 dCi will remain the most popular, be it in 130 or 150 trim. Renault expects manuals to remain the default choice but if you want the auto the Jatco built 6-speed unit is very slick, albeit carrying a 27g/km penalty.

Comfort is a Laguna selling point and the new version doesn't disappoint. There is plenty of adjustability in the driving position, and the ride, while crisper, is clearly tuned towards refinement rather than dynamic thrills. The clear, gimmick-free dashboard and excellent ergonomics also appeal. The optional satnav is very attractive, too, with easy to read graphics and an intuitive control system, plus Bluetooth for hands-free phone use.

The new Laguna won't entice keener drivers from their Mondeos and Mazda 6s, but Renault has been learning from partner Nissan and aims to deliver Japanese levels of quality and reliability to build on the Laguna's established selling points of comfort and five-star NCAP safety.



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