Renault Laguna Sport Tourer GT

Renault bring in a raft of styling updates for the Laguna family car - so do the changes turn the forgettable wagon into a class contender?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

This mid-life redesign has certainly made the Laguna stand out more. The top-spec GT is the most capable and desirable version – despite the fact that the ride comfort and numb steering come close to spoiling the driving experience. It also has an extensive array of standard kit, but is still too expensive. And if space and practicality are your biggest concerns, there are better estates out there.  p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 10.0px; font: 8.0px Helvetica} span.s1 {letter-spacing: -0.1px} span.s2 {letter-spacing: -0.2px}

The New Year is looking bright for the Laguna! Renault’s faithful family car has been given a mid-life refresh, and Auto Express got behind the wheel of the top-spec Sport Tourer estate to see if the changes add to its appeal.
 
The first task was to give the inoffensive but forgettable styling some charisma, and the GT model certainly pushes all the right buttons. A redesigned grille, dashes of chrome detailing and sporty 18-inch anthracite alloy wheels combine to great effect. Few diesel estates will attract as many admiring glances – although the new Saab-style ‘eyelid’ headlights are likely to be an acquired taste.
 
The interior is equally well finished – the seats get hand-stitched contrasting leather and grey Alcantara, and build quality is superb. Classy materials and the beautifully integrated TomTom sat-nav make it feel like a truly premium product, with our only gripe being the needlessly confusing stereo controls.
 
The 2.0-litre diesel engine provides enough pace to match the racy exterior, too. Power delivery is particularly smooth and, with a useful 400Nm of torque on tap in the mid-range, overtaking manoeuvres are handled with ease. Long gearing and excellent refinement make the Laguna an accomplished motorway cruiser, although it does crash over bigger bumps.
 
The suspension is stiffer than that of the previous model (by a massive 50 per cent at the rear), which further aggravates the problem. But it also improves body control through corners – and our model’s innovative 4Control active steering set-up helps further in this respect.
 
This allows the rear wheels to steer independently, either opposing the fronts at low speed to reduce the turning circle, or with them at higher speeds to aid stability. It’s effective, and makes the Laguna feel more agile than other estates in this class. 
 
Trouble is, this comes at the expense of practicality. The Sport Tourer’s 1,377-litre boot trails similarly priced models such as the Ford Mondeo for space. A low loading area and one-touch folding seats compensate, although they don’t fold flat, which can make packing large items difficult. 
 
Overall, the changes give a car that was struggling to stand out a new lease of life. Yet it’s still not the last word in driving dynamics or space – and the near-£25,000 price of this GT will put many off.
Rival: Ford Mondeo Estate
recently facelifted and with new engines, the Mondeo Estate is a cracking load carrier. It’s fun to drive, and the fast, high-spec 163bhp 2.0-litre TDCi Titanium model weighs in at £23,995.

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