Model/Engine size: 1.5 D Expression dCi
Fuel economy combined: 57.6 mpg
In the same way as the BlueMotion is the greenest car in the Volkswagen range , the 1.5 litre diesel is the greenest option in Renault’s Laguna line-up. Cars of this size normally come with a 2 litre engine, so a 1.5 litre unit is a significant downsizing.
This means that the fuel economy and emissions are excellent; 57.6mpg and 130g/km CO2. Fill up the tank and the fuel gauge will hardly move on a run down a motorway. It will be a long time before you have to come face to face with the latest diesel prices at the pumps as this Laguna can theoretically cover more than 800 miles between fill ups.
However the small engine also means that there are sacrifices when it comes to driver enjoyment. The turbo helps with forward progress, but overall the 110bhp engine doesn’t provide exciting responses to requests for more acceleration.
Driver enjoyment is also compromised by the chassis. Compare the Laguna with a 3 Series BMW and the driving experience couldn’t be more different. The BMW is a real driver’s car – precise, agile and rewarding. The Laguna in comparison is just the opposite. The suspension, the light and vague steering, and lack of front end grip means that it’s not a car to enjoy corners in, but it does have two particular strengths. The first is that it’s relaxing on a motorway. And the second is that its soft suspension soaks up potholes and bumps in an effective way.
The relaxing motorway experience is helped by the six speed gearbox which keeps down the revs and the noise. However the gearshift, clutch and brakes are in keeping with the overall feel of the car – they’re not fine-tuned for a rewarding driving experience.
What about the styling? There are elements of the front end design that look clean and modern, but overall the Laguna is neither ground-breaking nor particularly attractive. The overall impression is very bland, and not helped by the very standard wheels on the 1.5 litre diesel. At a time when so many new cars are breaking barriers with innovative and striking styling – just look at the forthcoming Vauxhall Insignia – it seems strange that Renault has not taken up the challenge. If companies want bland company cars then the 1.5 litre Laguna may be an acceptable choice; but most private motorists are likely to want something a bit more special. The poor resale value also won’t help to attract the car to private buyers.
Inside, the Laguna is spacious, it’s been made more upmarket than the previous model, and it tries to make up with the lack of on-road dynamics with various technological attractions. It comes with cruise control and a speed limiter. It also has an electric handbrake. We’re all for new ideas and progress, but sorry, we’re just not a fan of this. It feels fiddly and doesn’t seem particularly effective to use, and you lose the variable control of a traditional handbrake, as it is pretty much just on or off.
Renault’s safety record is good (the Laguna has a maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests), but unfortunately the same can’t be said about reliability, which has not been a strong point for Renault in recent times. In the past there have been too many reports of electrics ceasing to work and bits of trim breaking. Renault is keen to assure the world that the quality control gremlins have not been at work with this new Laguna.
So in summary if you want a comfortable, economical, good-sized and technology-filled motorway cruiser, then the Laguna could be for you. If you want an involving driver’s car with agile responses, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
This car also makes you think about how green you’re prepared to go. The 1.5 litre is the most economical, but the 128bhp or 148bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel is probably a better all round choice.
Fuel economy extra urban: 61.4 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 46.3 mpg
CO2 emissions: 130 g/km
Green rating: VED band C – £120
Weight: 1386 Kg
Company car tax liability (2007): 18%
Price: £16,350 (From £15,990 to £22,950)
Insurance group: 7
Safety: NCAP 5 stars
Max speed: 119 mph
0-60mph: 12.1 seconds