The Renault Laguna is the ideal large family car for those looking to watch the pennies but needing large boot space and a quality look. Renault’s unique styling gives the Laguna a different appeal than that of its rivals, and it can comfortably seat five occupants. Although the sloping roof somewhat restricts passenger access and lessens storage space, it does not detract significantly from the overall benefit. The models released after 2007 have a more comfortable ride for passengers and have proven to corner well, with plenty of grip around tight bends.
The station wagons after 2005 had only five seats, with no seven-seat option, and their makeover led to their being marketed more as a people carrier than a commercial, utility vehicle. Two years later, in 2007, Renault reviewed the Laguna once more, softening its lines even further and designing a new front grille arrangement.
The current models received a more aggressive facelift in 2010, giving the Laguna a slightly sportier, more athletic look. This latest incarnation comes in six trims: the Expression, Black Edition, Eco Business, Bose, GT 4Control, and the top-end Initiale.
Each model in the Laguna range is comfortable and a joy to drive. There is ample legroom for passengers, unobstructed view points and various seat and steering wheel settings to ensure driver satisfaction. The rear seating is spacious and padded with head restraints for all three seats, although central passengers may find the foot well slightly cramped.
The Renault Laguna launched in 1993, and when it made its return to the Australian market in 2002, the basic engine spec for the station wagon came in the form of a 1.6- and 1.8-litre. These were dropped by 2005, as they proved underpowered for the vehicle’s size, and only the larger capacity engines were available for the Sport Tourer wagons. The 2.0L engine introduced in 2006 and the newer 3.0L diesels are considered to be some of the best-quality and highest-performing engines on the market – even today.
The third-generation Lagunas released in 2007 come with the prospect of four petrol engine configurations: 1.6L, 2.0L, 2.0L turbo, and the 3.5L V6 24-valve, and diesel engines that came in 1.5L dCi, 2.0L dCi and the 3.0L dCi 24-valve. The gearbox arrangement is either manual or automatic 6-speed, with a choice of suspension settings to absorb uneven surfaces or glide over flat roads.
The handling of the Laguna on the road is confident and assured. It’s not a sporty racing machine, but a secure family car that is stable through corners and reliable on the flat. One of the raves about the Renault range is its running costs, and the 1.6L is capable of 8.6 L/100Km on the highway or 11.4 L/100Km around town, while giving off 110g/Kms worth of emissions. Emissions can be lowered even further with the green option, the ECOnetic version.
Even the early Lagunas came well equipped, as all models were installed with power steering, electronic windows, driver airbag, and central locking, and the majority of models also had CD players, dual airbags, and air conditioning. The second edition pioneered the keyless ignition system and added anti-lock brakes, curtain airbags, EBS braking, and electronic stability to the standard equipment list, making the Laguna one of the safest cars on the road and earning it an ANCAP five-star rating.
From the mid-2000s onward, Renault included sat nav, trip computer, remote locking, alloy wheels and cruise control as standard, with the Privilege models receiving leather upholstery, power-adjusted front seats, and rain-sensitive wipers. Top-range vehicles had 17” rims, spoilers, rear sunshades, and sunroof as standard. Today, Renault still sells one of the best-equipped cars, even at the entry level.
The improved interior finishes, quality equipment packages, and the first-class safety features make the Renault Laguna a great large family car. These features more than make up for what it lacks in performance against its rivals, the Ford Mondeo and the Mazda 6. Other vehicles competing in the Renault’s big-car class are the elegant Vauxhall Insignia and the decently equipped Peugeot 407.
What customers are guaranteed to get in the Renault Laguna range is a roomy vehicle full of storage space and lots of room for its passengers. The restyled interiors and package options make it a well-equipped car and, with the selection from the diesel engines, an excellently-powered car.