- We like...Clever folding seats
- We don't...It isn't that big
This isn't the biggest estate you can buy, but it ranks among the cleverestThis load-lugging Renault Laguna plays a really cool party trick. When you need to drop the rear seats look for a pair of buttons, inside the rear door jambs, or else just inboard of the open tailgate. Give ‘em a squeeze, and ‘pop’, the seats are flat. What can be a nasty job is mastered, and it’s no harder than flicking a switch.
There are other treats in store and chief among them is keyless entry. Provided you’ve got the car’s credit-card sized security gizmo somewhere about you, the doors unlock as you step up to the car. Then the engine fires at the press of a button and you’re off. There’s a slot in the dash where you can pop the card if you want to. But there’s absolutely no need.
Let’s remember, though, that four of every five big estate cars are bought by companies, who choose hard-headedly. It comes down to how big are they, how tough are they and how cheap are they?
Size first: it isn’t the biggest. The Laguna’s 508 litres of luggage space when all five seats are in used and 1593 litres, seats lowered, is easily trumped by the Ford Mondeo’s 554 and 1685 litres. Vauxhall’s Vectra estate tops it, too, with its 540 and 1850 litres. But it counters with its handiness – big side pockets, a tray under the load floor and a slot to house the rear luggage cover once you’ve removed it. There are hooks for shopping bags and plenty of rings for tying stuff to.
Toughness next. Renault has plenty to do: in the latest What Car? Reliability supertest, the make came a dismal 25th out of 26. In response, the Laguna carries a three-year, 100,000-mile manufacturer-backed warranty that’s new and now equals the best you can get anywhere. That said, some plastic items in the cars we drove weren’t the sturdiest we’d seen and one Laguna had something loose rattling in its cabin.
Then there are buying and ownership costs. The Laguna is priced keenly and lavishly equipped. Even the entry-level Expression model has air conditioning, alloy wheels, keyless entry and neat touches such as a leather-wrapped wheel and gearshift. Move up to the Dynamique and the seats and sporty and part-leather and there are splashes of silver trim across the dash and doors. At the top, the Renault Initiale is all wood trim and leather.
Its engines run from a super-frugal, low emissions 1.5 diesel to a punchy 150bhp 2.0, or 2.0 petrol power plants producing 150bhp and 170bhp. We’ve driven both diesels. It seems that least is best because the 110bhp 1.5 rows the car along quietly, suiting its smooth ride and low road noise well. The 150bhp is noisier and more ‘diesely’ by comparison, but picks up rapidly and, if you’re planning to drive your Laguna often loaded to the brink, it’s the one to have. The two petrol options do the job well but, when there are such good diesel options, become all but surplus.
So the Renault Laguna drives beautifully, is keen value and, if not the biggest of estates, fully delivers in its usefulness. So the only big question left hanging is how successfully Renault tackles its reliability problems. The company is making bullish noises about how it has improved in this area. We’d buy one, but whether you do depends on whether you believe Renault. Only time will tell.
- Engines2.0 petrol, 2.0 turbo petrol; 1.5 dCi, 2.0 dCi
- 0-60 mph9.3sec-12.3sec
- Economy42.8mpg, 3
- Insurance groups8-12
Motors.co.uk value verdict: