La­guna’s mid­size fight

Re­nault aims to ramp up stale sales, writes, JAMES STAN­FORD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

CUS­TOMERS of mid­size mod­els have never had it bet­ter. The com­pe­ti­tion in the class is now so fierce, with fresh metal such as the Holden Epica, Ford Mon­deo and new Honda Ac­cord Euro ar­riv­ing that Mazda has had to slash the price of its Mazda6 to give it a chance.

There are re­ally two types of mid­siz­ers: the more af­ford­able mod­els that start at about $32,000 or less and those with a Euro­pean badge on the nose. Th­ese in­clude the Peu­geot 407, Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat and the new Re­nault La­guna.

The last-gen­er­a­tion La­guna was the hero car soon af­ter the French brand re­turned to Aus­tralia in 2001.

It was a rea­son­able car and the first model to achieve a five-star EuroNCAP crash test score, but the La­guna strug­gled to find buy­ers given it was pricey and the brand didn’t have much cache.

Eight years later and not much has changed. Of all the new cars sold in Aus­tralia each year, only 0.3 per cent were Re­naults.

The com­pany is hop­ing to ramp that up dra­mat­i­cally with new mod­els such as the red-hot Clio Re­nault Sport and Koleos com­pact cross­over wagon, but for now the flag­ship is the mid­sized La­guna.

The new model is only avail­able as a diesel hatch for now, but a wagon ver­sion and a petrol en­gine will be added to the range in Septem­ber.

There are two ver­sions avail­able at launch, the $44,490 Ex­pres­sion hatch and the $50,690 Priv­i­lege, which are both au­to­mat­ics.

A $41,990 man­ual diesel Ex­pres­sion hatch is among the mod­els that will ar­rive in Septem­ber.

It is a lot of money, but the La­guna does come with a long list of stan­dard fea­tures.

On the safety front, it has elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, front, side and cur­tain airbags and it earned an easy five-star rat­ing, scor­ing a record 36 out of 37 points.

Step­ping up to the Priv­i­lege adds heated seats, leather trim, Xenon swiv­el­ling head­lights, a pre­mium sound sys­tem, 18-inch al­loy wheels, rear park­ing sen­sors, tyre pres­sure sen­sors, auto fold­ing wing mir­rors and metal­lic paint.

Re­nault has man­aged to shave 15kg off the La­guna, which is im­pres­sive given it is 36mm wider, 10mm longer and 12mm taller.

Its en­gi­neers racked up 6,000,000km de­vel­op­ing the La­guna, in­clud­ing 30,000km in Aus­tralia.

Pro­tec­tion plus: the Re­nault La­guna has topped a five-star safety rat­ing with a 36 out of 37 score.

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