New Renault Laguna: the lowdown
Renault's big-selling Laguna will be replaced in the autumn autumn with this distinctive new family car. Okay, so it's not the most radical car Renault has ever produced, but it does usher in some interesting developments from La Régie, as it chases down the new Ford Mondeo and forthcoming Vauxhall Vectra. For starters, the Laguna is the latest car to be lighter than the model it replaces; despite being longer, wider and taller, it's an average 15kg skinnier across the range, which should boost performance, economy and emissions. The new Laguna spearheads a new push to make Renaults better known for quality and eco credentials. Press 'Next' to find out why.
What's under the skin?
Renault makes no bones about it - the Laguna is aimed squarely at the business market in many countries, so most buyers will avoid the two petrol engines (a 2.0 with 138bhp or turbocharged to turn out 168bhp) and plump straight for one of the diesels. Unusually for a big family car, the Laguna will offer a small 1.5 dCi with 109bhp, as well as a more typical 2.0 diesel. Pick the former for clean emissions - just 136g/km of CO2 is impessive for such a big car - or the latter for some motorway-munching torque. The 2.0-litre diesel is available in 128, 148 and 173bhp guises. Renault is making a lot of noise about the eco credentials of the new Laguna; the top diesel with particulate trap is Renault's first to meet forthcoming Euro5 emissions regulations, while every new Laguna will have a six-speed gearbox for quieter cruising. To answer critics who berate the Laguna for its so-so driving qualities, this one could even be a fun drive. The engineers have stiffened the damper rates by 20 percent at the front and 50 percent at the rear, and are claiming a much sportier response. But then they would say that, wouldn't they?
Tell me about the Laguna estate
Estate? In Renault speak, the wagon is dubbed Sport Tourer, and the emphasis is more on sport by the looks of it; that sloping rear screen puts style firmly over function. The Laguna Sport Tourer ain't no Volvo estate, on first inspection. However, the rear seats apparently fold completely flat at the touch of the button, using a similar system as already seen on sister company Nissan's Murano. Both bodystyles go on sale simultaneously on 12 October 2007.
Quality and eco credentials - from a Renault?
Yes, it's quite a change for a company better known for providing cheap, stylish transport with an average quality record. But Renault is desperate to persuade punters otherwise, and the Laguna is the first new car launched under the new regime. This explains the new, and terribly named, 'eco_' initiative. Renault's thought police hope to persuade buyers that buying French means you're buying green. So, in future, all its cars producing less than 140g/km of CO2, built in ISO 14001-compliant factories, and with at least 5 percent of recycled plastics, will win a special 'eco_' label. Renault also aims to be in the top three for quality. Until we drive the car, we'll reserve judgment, but this interior looks pretty smart, with some of the quality touches developed for the defunct Vel Satis. Pie in the sky? Perhaps, but don't forget that Renault has cleverly repositioned itself as a brand known for its safety record. The outgoing Laguna was the first car to win the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP, and Renault has fitted a suite of airbags and stability systems to the latest iteration. So watch this space...