Laguna’s midsize fight
Renault aims to ramp up stale sales, writes, JAMES STANFORD
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.