Renault Laguna review (2007-2012)
The Renault Laguna hatchback doesn’t offer enough to be a top contender.
The latest Laguna is derived from the old car’s underpinnings. While it is comfortable and pliant on motorway surfaces, the ride is a disappointment on bumpy town roads – there’s simply too much movement. The dampers don’t control the suspension that well, and this really shows up on A-roads, where it lacks composure. What’s more, the steering leaves you feeling detached, and the handling, while safe and predicable, can’t meet the standards set by some excellent rivals. Driver enjoyment is lacking. As for engines, diesel is best. The popular 2.0-litre dCi is very refined, and there is little in the way of engine noise, even under full throttle. The power delivery is very smooth too, though the gearbox and clutch are vague.
The family car market is now more diverse than ever. The Laguna hatchback and Sport Tourer estate aren't as dramatically styled as before, Renault preferring instead to major on quality and luxury. This is crucial, given the reliability woes of the old car. There’s a large range of engines, and trims span from entry-level Expression versions, to sporty Dynamique and Dynamique, S, to the lavish Initiale range-toppers. Key rivals include the massive Ford Mondeo and sporty Mazda 6, plus the Peugeot 407, Vauxhall Vectra and Volkswagen Passat.
From the driver’s seat, impressions are promising. The interior has taken a big step forward. The cabin is clearly and logically laid out, while the high-quality plastics are very impressive. Again, it’s not as distinctive as other Renaults, but it’s a very refined and comfortable place to spend time, with a decent driving position (though some testers found the offset pedals uncomfortable). It’s extremely well equipped as well. In the rear, fold-flat seats enhance practicality, as does the wide-opening hatchback rear, though passengers fare less well. Head and legroom are lacking compared to the class-leading Ford Mondeo. Initial impressions back up Renault’s claim to have improved quality by leaps and bounds, too: impressively, the maker is supporting this with a three-year, 100,000-mile warranty. Factor in strong fuel efficiency from the diesel engines, and the Laguna looks impressive on paper. Retained values show a welcome improvement over the old model, too.