New Laguna moves up a gear

It is a cutthroat environment where the Renault Laguna competes and the latest version has upped its game in a few well targeted areas. The previous generation Laguna could certainly pound out the motorway mileage but it was never the sharpest of customers when presented with a corner.

It is a cutthroat environment where the Renault Laguna competes and the latest version has upped its game in a few well targeted areas. The previous generation Laguna could certainly pound out the motorway mileage but it was never the sharpest of customers when presented with a corner.

Renault has tried to address this with the 4Control 4-wheel steering system now offered on the dCi 180 top diesel variant. This slightly steers the rear wheel for easier parking at low speeds and greater stability and safety at higher ones. Even more humble Lagunas roll less than they did originally and respond better, though this still isn’t one of the sportier drives in the medium range sector. Where it does excel is in the areas of ride comfort and

refinement. Even with the entry-level diesel installed, the Laguna is hushed at motorway speeds and the suspension irons out poor road surfaces with real aplomb without getting too wobbly through the bends.

From the outside, this Laguna is different - but not too different. The look is certainly more assertive, thanks to revised ‘eyelid’ headlights, wide foglamps and a long bonnet which slopes gently down to the smart pearlescent black grille. More extensive use of chrome trimming is further supposed to highlight the dynamic credentials of both Hatchback and Sport Tourer estate models. The interior remains unaltered apart from a more up-market choice of upholstery but there was very little wrong with that in the first place.

All models get the latest ABS technology with brake assist and ESP stability control. Should that fail, the passive safety provision runs to double pressure, double chamber airbags and dual pre-tensioner seatbelts. Renault has also focused on side-impact protection with thorax and pelvis side airbags fitted along with sensors that determine the force of any impact, adjusting the release time of the safety systems accordingly.

The Hatch and Sport Tourer bodystyles are offered in a slimmed down range of Renault trim designations starting with Expression and Dynamique and extending to the Tom Tom Edition and the range topping Initiale. All variants get alloy wheels, a CD-RDS stereo with fingertip remote control, air conditioning, bluetooth hands free technology, an alarm, electric windows all-round, electrically heated door mirrors and a leather steering wheel.

Improvements include the provision of an upgraded Carminat TomTom sat nav system which can warn of mobile speed checks, access Google’s Local Search service and bring you weather forecasts. An even better Bose audio system has also been developed featuring an 8cm-diameter neodymium mid-high range centre-fill speaker, four 3.5cm-diameter neodymium tweeters, four 16.5cm wide-range neodymium speakers, an 11.5cm neodymium bass speaker in a Bass-Reflex enclosure and a digital amplifier with Bose digital signal processor and six channel individualised equalizer. Even the most committed audiophile should be satisfied with that.

This Renault Laguna was always safe, comfortable and well built but it needed a little bit extra. With 4x4s, MPVs and junior executive models all eating into the core customer base for traditional family cars, Renault needed to give the Laguna a boost and the latest versions have been tweaked with this in mind. Certainly, moves to improve efficiency, thus costs, will be greatly appreciated in the all-important fleet sector.