Renault’s coupe dreams
The Laguna would be a stylish addition to a French collection, writes NEIL McDONALD
APROTOTYPE has covered thousands of kilometres on Australian roads but the stylish Laguna coupe remains out of Renault Australia’s reach. So does the Laguna GT hatch. Both cars are high on the ‘‘must-have’’ list for Renault Australia boss Rudi Koenig, but he admits it will be difficult to build a business case for either car here despite the need for ‘‘halo’’ cars in the range.
Coupes and high-performance models are traditionally low-volume, high-cost cars that are rarely profitable as imports.
But Koenig is adamant Renault needs these cars to broaden the French carmaker’s appeal.
He says there have been lots of discussions about the GT and the coupe.
‘‘I suppose the dream I would have for a ‘brand’ car would be the GT,’’ he says.
The Laguna GT, with its all-wheel steering and high-performance V6 turbodiesel, ‘‘is the car with which I always open the discussions, because it’s one I’d love to have’’.
‘‘The Laguna coupe is also a beautiful car. I’ve driven the V6 diesel and I know it’s fantastic, but we’ve been told the cost equation isn’t right for Australia.’’
Koenig says part of Renault Australia’s frustration comes from being ‘‘a small player in a big company and being a small player within a market’’.
‘‘We have trouble convincing our parent company in France that Australia is a mature, advanced country.
‘‘Everyone has the internet, everyone knows what Renault is doing and what product’s available, and they don’t want second rate. So don’t try to sell us something that doesn’t have all the goodies.’’
The current model Laguna is not yet an ‘‘international’’ product because it has been designed mostly for Europe. However, Koenig believes the next generation Laguna hatch, sedan and coupe will be truly international.
This means the company will be able to source more Laguna models from more costcompetitive countries such as South Korea and Turkey for smaller markets such as Australia.
In Europe the all-wheel steering coupe gets two performance V6s, a 3.0-litre dCi and a Nissan-sourced 3.5-litre petrol. Both deliver 0-100km/h in less than seven seconds.