The old Renault Laguna was quite highly rated in its day, trouble was its day did not last very long, and it quickly became long in the tooth. It did not of course become a bad car over night, It just could not keep up with the increasingly fierce competition, in the "mid range" battle ground.
But that was yesterday, and the Renault engineers have pulled out all the stops to put the Laguna back on top of the pile. When you survey the deep detail of the little touches Renault have built in, it would be easy to overlook or dismiss how much work has gone into the basic of the car, like ride handling, performance etc. But rest assured the driving dynamics are well up to the standard of the gimmicks.
Having blagged a passing car for a quick peek it would be unfair to say to much about its driving dynamics without a much fuller test, so for now we will concentrate on all the bits you get. Suffice to say its a typically modern, neat handling, smooth riding, effortlessly performing, car.
Anyway judging by how many of you buy a car you have never driven all the little touches, could well be what your interested in.
For a start its looks are much improved, drawing some influence from the popular Megane, and some others from what looks to me like a slightly watered down Germanic source. Where ever it comes from its a purposeful looking car.
Its not quite up there with the new Mondeo/Passat in my eyes, but its close enough.
We might as well cover the Entrance/Ignition first, whether all the following gubbins, is really any better, more convenient, more secure than a coded key is open to debate, but it at least wont poke as many holes in your pocket.
Yes that's it.
The credit card sized device is the key. The buttons operate the Remote central locking. And no you don't insert it and then twist it, Well at least not the twisting bit.
Its only a shame the button is not a big red one in the middle of a turned aluminium dash, perhaps the Renault Spider can get that bit.
So anyway you stick a digit on to the button and the usual hushed tones on a modern engine can just be heard if you rev it a bit.
The chrome plated needles jump to attention and indicate that the engine has come to life. I'm not sure if chrome plated needles are a new new thing, It has been seen before Eons ago pre-war and like. Chrome ringed dials are a current fad, but Renault has embraced, yet side stepped it with this novel twist. What ever the designer implications the dash is simple and clear.
Living in the age of the nanny state its nice to know that Renault have embraced the "my cars safer than your car" bragging game. Air bags abound like a scene from the Prisoner.
Even better is the NCAP crash testing rating which places the Laguna right at the top of the tree, but given the choice of head on impact between this and a Land cruiser, I know what I would choose.
Even the seat belt security mounting with the pre-tensioners is versatile allowing plenty of movement making it more comfortable for more people.
The interior is roomy and comfortable as well containing a goodly collection of tricky gadgets. The seats are nicely supportive and adjustable, and the neatly designed armrest's are a bonus.
Now being an Armrest is a perfectly adequate past-time for a lump of plastic but Renault have made use of these spaces. Ok the front one is generally a bin, and Renaults rear is not a Volvo baby seat but they are useful anyway.
The knobby looking thing in the front compartment is a power socket ( better know a fag lighter to most of us), presumably to power the small fridge you are going to balance in the rear arm rest compartment.
Not only is the Interior roomy but despite the stubby looks of the tail Renault supply a fair sized boot too. Access by as low a lip as is feasible given the rear bumper.
In the process of updating the Laguna it has gained a nice merc-esque sun roof control which at least takes the fiddling out of setting it into place, this at least shows that despite Renault's raft of clear thinking they are not adverse to pinching good ideas from other people. But their take on the ever weirder world of cup holder engineering really has to be seen.
Best of all though really is the new range of engines that will find their way into the Laguna, as the old ones really were a bit of an Achilles heel. Not does the Laguna have some fleet footed petrol's, but Renault have some new Diesels too, so now they can compete properly with their French cousins from PSA.
We will leave you with this front view of what really seems to be an outstanding new car. With a bit of luck we can get a full road test soon, hopefully the reality will live up to promises of this quick inspection.
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