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Renault Laguna 2009 Review

Let’s face it, Renault has had a tough time trying to re-establish its credentials in Australia since its return in 2001. Local buyers have not warmed to the French carmaker in big numbers despite the brand's reputation for quality, its enviable crash safety record and outstanding turbo-diesel engines.

But today there is renewed enthusiasm for the brand and executives finally realise it must tackle the dominant Japanese players head-on on prices and equipment. To do this it has slashed prices and launched an expanded Laguna hatch and wagon range.

Prices have come down between $1500 and $4000 depending on the model, without losing any equipment. A 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine now joins the model mix, complementing the competent 2.0-litre dCi turbo-diesel.

Like the Koleos too, Renault has extended the warranty to three years and unlimited kilometres. It's clear the Renault France is helping the local operations adopt a more serious marketing attitude.

Exterior

Like many new-generation wagons, the Estate as Renault insists on calling it, looks very sporty and not at all like a tradition family wagon. Ahead of the B-pillar, the styling follows the Laguna III hatch, launched here last June. That means the front end gets the same streamlined headlights and long, sloping bonnet.

On the hatch, the crease line extends along the boot, just below the rear LED lights, which give the car a distinctive rear profile at night. Diesel hatch models also get dual chrome-plated exhausts.

Both the hatch and wagon share the same 2760mm wheelbase but the wagon has a bigger luggage area as befits its load-carrying design. The wagon has 501-litres of luggage space with the 60/40 split rear seats in place, increasing to 1593 litres when folded.

At 4690mm long the, the hatch is 36mm wider than its predecessor, 10mm longer and 12mm taller. Although larger and more spacious the hatch 15kg lighter than the previous model.

Chrome highlights on the side windows distinguish the Dynamique wagon and Privilege hatch. Depending upon the model, Laguna gets 16-inch or 18-inch alloys. Practical design features include an integrated fuel tank flap that replaces the cap, so you don't have to get your hands dirty when refueling. The wagon gets a steeply raked rear window, while the slightly elongated and curved side windows accentuate the car's sporty lines.

Pricing

Both the Laguna hatch and wagon are between $1500 and $4000 cheaper than previous incarnations. Hatch prices now start from $37,990 for the entry dCi hatch six-speed Expression manual, rising to $48,490 for the dCi hatch Privilege six-speed sequential automatic. This does not include on-road prices.

Three new automatic-only wagons join the lineup, the Expression 2.0-litre petrol, Expression 2.0-litre dCi and luxury Dynamique 2.0-litre dCi. Wagon prices start at $41,990 for the Expression petrol, $43,990 for the Expression dCi and $46,990 for the Dynamique dCi. However, to get a final on-road price it's best to check with your local dealer.

Equipment

The Laguna has a five-star crashing rating and is well equipped. It has that polished European flare that will appeal to buyers looking for something different from the mainstream Japanese products.

Both the Expression hatch and wagon get the full complement of safety gear from electronic stability control and traction control, eight airbags, automatic headlights and rain sensing wipers, front and rear foglights, cruise control with speed limiter, automatic parking brake, 16-inch alloys, leather steering wheel and gear knob, rear side sunblinds, dual-zone climate control with carbon and odour filter, heated door mirrors, cloth upholstery and a single CD player with MP3 compatibility and satellite audio controls.

The Privilege is the range topper in the hatch lineup and adds a beige leather interior with electrically adjustable heated front seats, parking sensors, 18-inch alloys, chrome window surrounds, xenon directional headlights with washers, auto-folding mirrors, auto dimming rearview mirror and a premium in-dash six stack CD stereo.

The Dynamique wagon ups the ante with dark-carbon leather/alcantra trim, 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, auto folding rearview mirrors, premium six-disc in-dash CD player and auto dimming rear-view mirror. Both the Privilege hatch and Dynamique wagon also get tyre pressure monitors.

Drivetrain

The 2.0 litre dCi delivers 110kW at 4000 revs and 340Nm at just 2000 revs. Depending upon the model, the engine is matched to a six-speed manual or six-speed sequential automatic.

The 2.0 dCi hatch's combined fuel economy figure is 6.0 litres/100km for the six speed-manual and 7.0 litres/100km the six-speed automatic. The dCi engine also complies with the Euro V emission requirements.

Manual diesels get a dash-mounted gearshift indicator, called “eco-shift”, which tells the driver the best gear to select to improve fuel consumption.

The 16-valve 2.0-litre petrol engine is turbo-charged, delivering 125kW at 5000 revs and 270Nm at 3250 revs mated to the automatic. The petrol engine delivers a combined fuel economy figure of 8.9 litres/100km.

Driving

In keeping with its French credentials, the Laguna wagon has a plush, supple ride and quiet, lavishly equipped high-quality cabin. However, the soft suspension comes at the expense of some damper control. An average roads north of Melbourne the wagon could be caught out over sharp bumps, sometimes crashing to its bump stops before recovering.

It's not an issue on the highway, where the plush big-car ride will eat up the kilometres with ease. Despite the suspension, the wagon's overall dynamics are crisp, grip is reassuring and there's plenty of steering feedback.

Both the 2.0-litre turbo petrol and turbo diesel are smooth and quiet and the six-speed automatic seamless and well mated to either engine. Those who appreciate the low-speed grunt of a diesel will opt for the dCi but the petrol is by no means a poor cousin.

Adding the turbo petrol engine into the hatch lineup should broaden model's appeal. Renault expects it to account for 75 per cent of hatch and wagon sales.


Snapshot
Renault Laguna hatch and wagon
Engines: 2.0-litre turbo petrol and 2.0-litre turbo-diesel driving the front wheels.
Power: 125kW at 5000 revs (2.0 petrol); 110kW at 4000 revs (2.0 dCi)
Torque: 270Nm at 3250 revs (2.0 petrol); 340Nm at 2000 revs (2.0 dCi)
Economy: 8.9 litres/100km (2.0 petrol); 6.0 litres/100km (2.0 dCi)

Pricing guides

$8,940
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$6,000
Highest Price
$11,880

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Expression 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $6,200 – 9,570 2009 Renault Laguna 2009 Expression Pricing and Specs
Privilege 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $7,400 – 11,440 2009 Renault Laguna 2009 Privilege Pricing and Specs
Dynamique 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,500 – 11,550 2009 Renault Laguna 2009 Dynamique Pricing and Specs
Expression 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $6,700 – 10,340 2009 Renault Laguna 2009 Expression Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$6,700

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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