Renault Laguna Initiale proves an impressive package

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire

THE current Renault Laguna model was first launched in 2007, so it is now about four years into its model cycle. Over that time there have been tweaks and modifications and additional models introduced. For 2012 Renault upgraded the Laguna with revised styling, some new technologies and higher specification.

So though the Laugua may now be one of the older cars currently available in this segment, pitched against the likes of the excellent new Peugeot 508, Opel Insignia, or Ford Mondeo to name but a few it is still managing to sell well. I have been road testing a special high spec model called the Laguna Initiale.

First Impressions

The revised style still manages to look reasonably fresh and contemporary. The major changes are to the front with a new grille, new bonnet leading edge and a new headlight assembly. The rear has twin chrome tailpipes creating a more sporty image. It is distinctive and manages to look very elegant particularly in some of the attractive new metallic colours.

Behind The Wheel

The cabin is very good. The new dashboard and steering wheel look great. The layout is clean and concise, while the materials used feel top class. The fit and finish of everything is beyond reproach and the ergonomics of the design means everything is perfectly placed for ease of use.

The driving position is very good with height adjustment for both the seats and steering wheel allowing one to get the best seating position possible.

Standard equipment really is comprehensive on the Laguna Initiale with multiple airbags, ABS, ESP, EBD, power windows remote key card entry with push-button start, climate control, multi-function steering wheel, BOSE high grade CD/MP3, full beige leather trim, heated seats, park assist, electronic park brake, auto wipers, auto lights, electric seats, rear sunblinds, Satellite navigation, Bluetooth, remote audio controls, multi-spoke alloys, and metallic paint.

The cabin is roomy but the slope in the rear roofline does slightly restrict headroom for taller passengers. That said it is pretty good and the large boot with big tailgate and folding rear seats offers great flexibility.

Performance

This 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine is a real revelation. It is a gem. Producing some 150 bhp it proves lively, refined and very frugal. Performance is very good. Mid-range torque is impressive making for very good overtaking and in gear acceleration. This lovely engine is mated to a smooth 6-speed gearbox, and over my test period this new Laguna burned just 6.1 litres of diesel per 100km giving it a mighty range of almost 1,000km between refuels. Emissions of just 126g/km put it in tax band B.

Road Behaviour

The car feels nimble and agile through corners. In fact it is actually good fun to drive with surefooted handling, high levels of refinement and great comfort.

This Laguna is one of the quietest cars in its class making it a very refined motorway cruiser.

Verdict

So what is my verdict? The Laguna face stiff opposition from many newer rivals, but particuarly in this higher specification version, the Initiale it really can hold its own against many competitors. I really like it!

Priced at €31,990.