There are no Renaultsport badges anywhere on the new Renault Laguna GT but the crack chassis team have been hard at work under the skin. The same people who brought us the brilliant Clio Cup are behind the four-wheel steer system on this Laguna’s Active Drive chassis.
Four-wheel steer in a Renault Laguna? Even the Nissan GT-R has ditched that technology.
Twenty years ago Japanese car makers seemed fascinated by the potential benefits of steering cars using both axles (and not just by nailing the throttle in your Starion) but the idea seemed to have disappeared until now. Renault reckons that four-wheel steer improves both agility and stability. It even set up a race through a slalom against a Boxster when it first showed us the technology, and the Renault beat the Porsche to the finish line. Active Drive will only appear on the Laguna GT and top versions of the new coupe model although it could work its way onto future Meganes and even the Espace.
So this Laguna GT is a Vectra VXR beater?
Not exactly. It’s a performance-focused model certainly, but is more a rival for sporty trim levels like Audi’s S-Line than cars like the VXR. That’s reflected in the price: the GT should cost just £21k when it goes on sale in April 2008. That price remains the same whether you go for the 178bhp 2.0 dCi diesel or the turbocharged 2.0 four pot and its 202bhp. Both engines come only with a six-speed manual gearbox and Renault expects the diesel to account for up to 90 percent of GT sales.
So what’s in the package?
There are 18-inch wheels, new headlights and more aggressive bumpers and sills but while its recognisably different, it’s not overtly sporty. Discrete GT logos appear on the B-pillar outside and inside on the Alcantara-covered sports seats and there are the usual aluminium splashes on pedals and gearshift surround. It all sounds pleasant but hardly thrilling. We suspect though that the real appeal will be obvious when you’re behind the wheel and feeling the benefit of that four-wheel steer chassis. We’ll let you know when we drive the GT in early April.