Finally, a French car without the complications.
- 2009 Renault Laguna Dynamique Estate; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel; six-speed automatic; wagon - $46,990*
- 18-inch Alloy Wheels $1000; Metallic Paint $800; Panoramic Sunroof $2000; Xenon Headlights & Headlight Washers $1950
The French have always been a bit quirky. While their women are nothing short of amazing, their cars have always had a lingering question mark over their heads.
Renault’s Laguna sedan was a good drive, but I thought it lacked substance and feel. The styling also didn’t do much for me – that rear end looks like it was styled off a square faced Russian. I thought the Laguna Estate (French for wagon) would be much the same.
I was wrong.
In person the Laguna Estate conveys an image of wealth and presence, while the modern styling and eye-catching angles instantly attract attention.
The cabin follows the same trend with Alcantara-clad seats and a metallic finish to the cabin trim. An optional full-length glass roof adds ambience to the cabin, featuring an electric blind to decrease the bite of hot summer days and an electric opening at the front for the grownups.
Rear seat leg room is compromised by an over-accommodating set of front seats. The result is leg room which is strictly limited to children – or midget adults.
Starting at $38,990 for the Laguna Expression Sedan, the Laguna Dynamique being tested retails for $46,990 (plus on-road costs).
At the top end of the model range, the Dynamique comes with: 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, rear side window blinds, cargo blind, six-disc in-dash CD player, rear parking sensors, cruise control with brake function, electric park brake, fog lamps, automatic headlights and wipers, heated and folding wing mirrors, full size spare wheel and tyre pressure monitor.
Safety features include ten airbags (dual front, dual front and rear head, and dual front and rear side), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), engine immobiliser and three-point rear seatbelts. In addition to the raft of airbags, the Renault Laguna also achieved a five star ANCAP rating. It scored a staggering 35.91/37, making it one of the highest rating cars tested.
Adding to the quirkiness of the whole French theme is the key-card used to unlock and start the car. It’s a credit card sized fob which slots into the dashboard to start the car. The key’s convenient size means there’s no more bulge sticking out from the side of your pants when lugging the car key around.
The impressive four-speaker sound system offers MP3 compatibility and goes to show that the number of speakers don’t necessarily correlate to the quality of the audio system.
Under the bonnet is Renault’s 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. Producing 110kW and 340Nm, the torquey motor is mated to a slick shifting six-speed automatic gearbox.
Although it has a tractor-like noise at idle, once you’re inside the cabin and moving it’s smooth sailing.
The gentle ride soaks up everything thrown at it and still manages to hold its own during cornering. In addition to the impressive ride, the steering and brakes are top notch. The steering is firm at speed and light during city manoeuvres, making it the perfect compromise for the Laguna’s family demographic.
Behind the wheel the Laguna rewards the driver with impressive acceleration on tap and little lag between throttle application and torque delivery. The six-speed automatic transmission always manages to select the correct gear and shifts through gears smoothly and effectively.
The fuel efficient turbo-diesel engine returns an official combined fuel consumption of 7.1L/100km, easily replicated during the road test.
Cabin noise at highway speeds is impressively low, even with the optional 18-inch wheels and low-profile tyres fitted.
I must admit, I wasn’t expecting much from the Renault Laguna Estate. It went above and beyond the standard for a sub $50,000 family vehicle. The standard features, attention to quality and exceptional ride and handling make the Renault Laguna Estate a gem for families after an alternative, fuel efficient transporter.
If you haven’t driven a Renault in a while – or ever for that matter – take the Laguna for a test drive, you’re bound to be impressed.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: