Renault “Face-lifted” Laguna – juste meilleur et meilleur
Might seem like an odd time to be testing the Renault Laguna, as it was launched in the UK in 2008 but the Laguna has undergone a facelift for 2011 so we thought that as Renault had given it a fresh new look, maybe we should give it one to.
We had reported on the fabulous looking Laguna Coupe when it was first released and really enjoyed the car, but we always wondered if we enjoyed it just because the car was mind blowingly pretty and we looked good in it. Wanting to lay that one to rest, we took a normal Laguna hatch, spent a week with it, accepted the fact we didn’t look pretty in it and simply tested it for what it is.
The Laguna is in a tough market place with cars such as Citroen C5, Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, Vauxhall Insignia and of course the new Peugeot 508 all trying to win your favour, so how do we feel the refreshed Renault stands up in this company.
The Laguna is a classic looking car and by that I mean it isn’t full of curves and quirky bits, its just a clean sophisticated unfussy big hatchback that does not to pretend to be anything it isn’t or that its trying too hard to fight against the competition by blinging itself up to attract a mate (or in this case, an owner).
On the outside, the Laguna does look different to the ubiquitous Mondeo and Insignia and the recent changes in the facelift have to be fair, tidied up the gangly look the car had originally. Renault always knew they had to offer something slightly unconventional to differentiate itself from is major competition, so this was by design, not by accident. In fact, I think that’s kind of cool as it’s nice to see something that’s not an Insignia or Mondeo and nice to think there are drivers around that are open minded enough to buy a car that isn’t what’s considered the norm. To be fair however, I am not conscious of seeing too many Laguna’s on my daily commute which either means they just are not selling, or that they simply blend into the background and I don’t know if either of these things is good for Renault.
The plain and tidy outside styling continues as you get into the Laguna, as nothing is fussy and its not there unless there is a reason for it to be there. The cars dash is simple and instrumentation uncluttered and pleasant to look at, but everything is easy to get to and easy to use. The materials and the plastic bits look good quality and everything seemed well put together and everything closes with a reassuring thud.
Our car was a Dynamique TomTom and so spec wise it had all the nice bits that you use everyday and that make living with the car so easy to live with which included dual-control climate control, auto headlights, auto parking brake, auto wipers, cruise control, heated and folding door mirrors, parking sensors, front fog lights, Bluetooth phone connection, alloy wheels and of course, the cars signature component, a TomTom satellite navigation system, which was easy to use, accurate and with the ability to change the direction arrow to a car (anything in the Renault range) or, as in our case, to a little Formula One car.
We liked the keyless entry system, although we still don’t like the silly keycard which leaves you carrying your normal keys separately. We normally hate electronic handbrakes but in this case, pulling away released it, whilst pushing the button to stop the car applied it, so effectively we never had to touch the handbrake and that’s ok by us.
Driving the face-lifted Laguna, it would be easy to forget what you are in, as it feels far more upmarket than it actually is and the ride quality is superb. Renault has clearly put driver comfort high up in the list of priorities and yet has managed to get a foot in both camps, because throwing the car hard into a corner, its grippy, with only negligible body roll, yet on a bumpy unmade up road, its smooth and comfortable. Steering is nicely weighted although you don’t feel awfully involved, leaving you a little detached when you push the car hard. It’s all about compromise I guess, but overall, the Laguna has excellent driving dynamics ‘for the type of car it is’.
Laguna Hatchback comes in 3 grades, the ‘Expression’, the ‘Dynamique TomTom’, and top of the range ‘GT Line TomTom’. Engine choices are 2.0i 16v petrol (only in Expression) a dCi 110, a dCi 150 and a dCi 175 Auto and lastly, a 180ps dCi which is only available in the GT Line. Co2 is lowest in the dCi 110 diesel at just 118g/km, up to 159g/km for the auto with the 175ps unit.
Laguna also comes in Sport Tourer (estate) and of course, as a pretty 3dr coupe, so body wise, there should be something to please everyone.
On the road prices for the 5dr hatchback range from £18,215 for the petrol Expression up to £24,005 for the GT Line dCi 180, with Sport Tourer prices adding another £1100 across the range. The Laguna Coupe (not covered in this test) ranges from £20,805 up to £28,520. Our test car was the Dynamique TomTom fitted with the dCi 175 engine, mated to an automatic gearbox and fitted with optional £520 Bose sound system and this took the price of the car up to £23,130.
People make the decision as to what car they choose for many reasons. Many drivers buy their car because of its badge and we all know someone like that. Some choose the car simply because they like the way it looks, whilst others (believing themselves to be Lewis Hamilton) choose the car because of the way it drives. Some drivers however simply look at the finances and base the decision on getting the best bang for their buck that they can and increasingly, it’s becoming more important to do that.
With that in mind, we looked at what the Laguna might be worth when its time to get rid of it. We picked a mid range Laguna diesel and compared it with similarly priced, similarly sized diesels from Citroen, Ford, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Vauxhall and Mazda and noticed that the “predicted” disposal value at 3 years 60,000 miles, depending on the vehicle you pick can range from 22% of its cost new price up to 33% of the cost new price, with the Laguna coming in at 25%, so whilst its not the worst, its not the best either.
The story however does not end there, as the price you pay for the vehicle (after discount) clearly has a major impact on your real whole life costs and its typical to find that you get a better front end buy on the vehicles with the lower disposal values than you do on those with higher disposal values, so in all likelihood everything is probably going to work out even, irrespective of which car you choose!
Our Laguna with its automatic transmission was a pleasure to drive, simply effortless. The cars understated looks are not going to appeal to everyone although it does look better in the metal than in a picture and, the longer we used the car, the more we got to like the way it looked. On the road it had impeccable manners and was well specified and generally very easy to live with and on that basis, we can recommend the Laguna. However, it is a fairly anonymous car in a market full of brazen hussies and you have to ask if, when it comes to laying your cash down, would you will opt for the bling or satisfy yourself with this elegant French model?
For a quotation on the Laguna or any other Renault, please contact us.