All-new Laguna show
Renault is looking for a major lift in Australia, writes STUART MARTIN
IT IS easy to forget Renault has been back in Australian showrooms for seven years. The French brand has struggled but believes its all-new Laguna is the car it needs to start a big product-led improvement.
The Laguna costs from $44,490 and with the latest Koleos fourwheel-drive, improving Megane and comeback Clio later this year, is one of the keys to help Renault achieve a sales target of 3500 this year, improving slowly to 4500 in 2009.
The new Laguna is leading the company’s renewed charge and the turbodiesel dCi automatic is first into showrooms. It will be followed by six-speed manual turbodiesels in September, together with auto-only petrol cars.
Still, Renault Australia’s managing director Rudi Koenig admits the growth is a challenge.
‘‘Today we’re at the start of a new cycle,’’ he says. ‘‘Cutting through the clutter is all about product and brand position in this market.
‘‘We’re such an open market. We have 310 models and 60 brands and have India and China on the way.
‘‘I’m speaking to you as a CEO for a company that doesn’t have a lot of brand position in this market. We’ve been here seven years. We were halfway through the Renault product cycle, so we haven’t had a lot of exciting new passenger product to launch with here.’’
The launch of the new Laguna, eventually followed by a coupe, included a visit by the company’s export chief, Christophe di-Perna.
He, too, says things have been tough in Australia, but promises good things for showrooms.
‘‘We came out on the product cycle that probably was not the best for the Australian market,’’ he says.
‘‘Now, with the new Laguna, the Koleos and so on, we’re on a plan that will fit the Australian market better.’’
The overhaul of the Laguna runs deep and includes a 2-litre turbodiesel engine shared with alliance partner Nissan in the X-Trail, producing 110kW and 340Nm. It will only come with Renault’s six-speed auto at the start of sales.
The Expression starts at $44,490 and goes on sale alongside the up- spec Privilege model priced from $50,690.
Once the petrol cars land there will be an Expression manual from $41,990 with 125kW and 270Nm, an Expression auto from $42,490, and the Privilege will top the hatch petrol range from $48,690.
The wagon models— also here in September — start with the Expression petrol auto from $45,490 or diesel auto from $47,490. The Dynamique 2-litre diesel auto will start from $50,690.The Laguna lays claim to green credentials with low emissions and frugal thirst from its diesels. The original model— which had stability control as standard two years ago — was also the first car to receive a five-star NCAP crash test rating.
Leading the charge: the Renault Laguna dCi turbodiesel automatic is first into showrooms, followed by six-speed manual turbodiesels in September.