How do you add a dash of pizzazz to the underwhelming looks of the Laguna saloon? Renault’s answer - in the shape of the new Laguna Coupe - seems like a good one: lop off two doors, drop in a 3.5-litre V6 from the Nissan 350Z and garnish with your own four-wheel steer system. Make the car shorter and wider than the saloon and then get your imposing Lebanese CEO to drive it around the Cannes Film Festival.
Also make sure it goes for a lap or two of the Monaco GP track, and keep the Laguna name proud across the rump so the general public relates the stunning coupe to your humdrum saloon. Orders fly in, brand awareness goes through the roof and all is well at La Regie. That's the idea, anyway.
Yes, yes, that all sounds good in theory but does the Renault Laguna Coupe work in practice?
Ah, here’s the problem. Renault showed off a Laguna Coupe concept at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show. By CAR’s own admission, and the reaction of you, the reader, this was the best-looking Renault in recent memory. Now take a look at the production car pictures (top row) and tell us what you think compared to the Coupe concept (bottom row).
We're reserving judgment until we see the Coupe in the metal, in natural light and in a colour other than this car's rather drab hue. At at first glance though, it appears that the production car has ignored the concept's potential.
Details from Renault are still scant but it's clear that gone are the shapely rear haunches, flush exhausts, the LED headlights, smoked 20-inch wheels and the silver slivers that were door handles.
In their place are regular headlamps, 17 or 18-inch wheels that look overwhelmed by the bodywork, and big chunky door handles and wing mirrors.
It's not all bad though. The rear still has a touch of Aston Martin to it, the LED taillights remain and the Coupe still has a very curvaceous design. The doors are frameless and while the interior might be standard Laguna it features higher quality materials.
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Ok, so things are starting to look up. What else do I need to know about the Renault Laguna Coupe?
The Nissan 350Z donates its big 3.5-litre V6, though here it’s detuned to deliver 237bhp and 243lb ft. There’s also a new 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 232bhp and 332lb ft. Both V6s drive the front wheels through auto ‘boxes and will do 0-62mph in under seven seconds.
Renault’s Active Drive four-wheel steer system will also be available on the Coupe, though the company has yet to confirm which models it will be standard on. If you’re thinking of getting a Laguna Coupe, make sure you pick Active Drive if you can. We were hugely impressed when we drove a Laguna Tourer so equipped, and the technology is good enough that BMW bought the first Active Drive Laguna to roll off the production line, we hear.
Prices have yet to be announced but expect the Laguna Coupe to start at just under £20,000 for the four-cylinder cars. Sales will start in the UK in early 2009, while the car will debut at the Paris motor show this autumn.
What do you think of the Renault Laguna Coupe? More unremarkable design from La Regie, or design flair that will get Renault back on track? Click 'Add your comment' below and join the debate