Renault Laguna

Opinion about new Renault Laguna is quite diversified - some say it beautiful and comfortable while some say not. However, most agree that it is by no means a star like the new-born Mondeo. 

This is another disappointing design from Patrick Le Quement (what’s wrong with him recently?). I like the low-waistline profile, which benefit all-round visibility, but I can hardly appreciate the odd nose with a piece of black plastic extended from bonnet. Shutlines of the bonnet are amazingly large by today’s standard, making you wonder if this car is really intended to give the Mondeo "the shortest honeymoon in history" as declared by Renault’s marketing personnel. 

Concept-wise, the new Laguna is by no means innovative. Perhaps Renault doesn’t want it to steal customers from the next Espace which will be built on the same platform, it gave the Laguna a very conventional saloon shape - perhaps too conventional. Long wheelbase aside, you can’t find any modern design philosophy. Front overhang is long, roof is relatively low and swooping towards the tail. Le Quement called it "sporting appeal". (really ? ask him to look at that black plastic again !) In other words, there is little headroom by today’s standard, although rear leg room is sufficient and the glass-house-like cabin injects an airy feel. 

While exterior looks cheap, interior is at least satisfying. All seats are nicely shaped and trimmed with tasteful textile. Front seats get the right balance between comfort and support while driving position is highly adjustable. The dashboard won’t win contest of plastic quality but it won’t lose points either. What matter most is that the dash and especially center console are designed with style - that kind of "simple is beautiful". I particularly prefer the stylish lid covering audio system. 

There are a lot of engines to choose from: 

  • 1.6-litre with 110 hp
  • 1.8-litre VVT with 123 hp
  • 2.0-litre IDE direct-injection with 140 hp
  • 3.0-litre V6 VVT with 210 hp
  • 1.9 dCi common-rail turbo diesel with 105 hp
  • 1.9 dCi common-rail VTG turbo diesel with 120 hp
  • 2.2 dCi common-rail VTG turbo diesel with 145 hp (available next year)
The most popular is likely to be the super-refined 120 hp turbo diesel, which is smoother and quieter than Volkswagen’s pump-injection 1.9 PD while more powerful than PSA’s 2.0 HDi. Its companion is even more remarkable - Clio V6’s 6-speed manual gearbox, whose shift quality is second to none. Slick and precise, you’ll change gears just for fun ! Nevertheless, with 199 lbft of torque, you actually need not to touch the shifter frequently.  

The same character can be found in handling and ride. Suspensions are tuned to bias ride comfort rather than handling, so is the over-assisted steering that doesn’t deliver much feel. Therefore it is completely different to Mondeo. It is never a driver’s car but for most of the time it will deliver more comfort than the Mondeo - excluding on low-speed road irregularities which could catch out its suspensions. Still, it is a big achievement for the not-so-advanced torsion-beam rear suspensions which keeps body roll and understeer in check without sacrificing ride quality.  

While the 1.9dCi engine suits the car’s refined character very much, the 3.0 V6 is less so. In isolation the V6 is smooth, flexible and have a fine 5-speed Tiptronic box to match. It just need a more driver-oriented chassis. 

The above report was last updated on 20 Mar 2001. All Rights Reserved.


Laguna 1.9dCi
Front-engined, Fwd
L / W / H / WB: 4579 / 1749 / 1429 / 2743 mm
Diesel, inline-4, sohc, 2v/cyl,
common-rail injection, VTG turbo
1870 c.c.
120 hp
199 lbft
F: strut; R: torsion beam
205/55 R16
1385 kg
Top speed
120 mph (estimated)
0-60 mph
11.5 sec (estimated)
0-100 mph

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