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Car reviews - Renault - Laguna - Estate range

Launch Story

Renault logo27 May 2009

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

RENAULT Australia has lowered Laguna prices by up to $4000 as it seeks to resuscitate moribund sales of the European medium-sized model range.

The changes take effect just as the Nissan-based French car importer announces the arrival of new-generation petrol-powered Laguna models, bringing the range to eight.

It completes a staggered launch for the third-generation X91-series family car range, which has been available since June last year as a diesel-only hatch. The Estate wagon models arrived in December.

To further stimulate interest in Laguna, Renault has also increased the warranty mileage maximum from 150,000km to an unlimited amount within the three-year timeframe. This also applies to the Koleos SUV, but no other Renault product sold in Australia at this stage.

The new pricing means the entry-level Laguna Expression Hatch 2.0 dCi manual now kicks off with a recommended retail price of $37,990* (previously $41,990), undercutting rivals such as the Mazda6 Diesel Sports Hatch by $5900 and Peugeot’s 407 SR HDI manual sedan by $3000.

Similarly, its automatic sibling, at $38,990, slips beneath the Citroen C5 2.0 HDi auto by $14,000, Volkswagen Passat 103TDI DSG by $4000 and Ford Mondeo TDCi hatch auto by $1000. It was previously $3500 more.

Renault announced pricing for the whole range back in June last year, so the adjusted amounts below for the wagon and petrol models are in relation to their 2008 forecasts.

The new 2.0 Turbo is a 1998cc 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 125kW of power at 5000rpm and 270Nm of torque at 3250rpm.

Emissions rated as a Euro IV engine, it delivers 8.9 litres per 100km on 95 RON premium unleaded petrol, and 210 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions.

In contrast, the existing 1995cc 2.0-litre common-rail four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit – compliant to Euro V emissions rules – pumps out 110kW at 4000rpm and 340Nm at 2400rpm, and returns 7.1L/100km and 188g/km of CO2 respectively.

On all Estates, torque is transmitted to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox with a sequential shift facility Renault calls Pro-Active, while the six-speed manual is reserved solely for the base dCi hatch.

Using the same basic architecture as the previous-generation (X74) Laguna sold here from 2001 to 2005 and again from 2006 to 2008, the X91 is underpinned by a MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear end, but employs wider anti-roll bars and twin-tube shock absorbers at the rear.

It also benefits from a stiffer steering column and a new lower steering ratio.

Renault says it has conducted about 30,000km of outback Australia testing for the latest Laguna, in an effort to achieve first class quality and reliability – a bugbear of the previous generation.

The 4.8-metre Estate wagon is built on the same 2.76m wheelbase as the shorter hatch, so relies on extra rear overhang to increase luggage capabilities, especially as the sloping rear window cuts into potential cargo space.

It is rated at 501 litres when the split/fold rear seats are up, swelling to 1593 litres when laid flat.

All models achieve a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and to this end feature electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, dual front and rear-side airbags and curtain airbags.

Auto-on headlights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear foglamps, cruise control with a speed limiter device, an automatic park brake, a filtered dual-zone climate-control system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, rear-door sunblinds, steering-wheel mounted audio controls for the CD/radio/MP3 player, heated electric door mirrors and alloy wheels are also included on the base Expression.

An upgraded audio system, fancier trim inside and out, larger (17-inch) alloy wheels, leather and Alcantara trim, rear parking sensors, tyre-pressure monitors and folding door mirrors mark the Dynamique Estate.

There is no Privilege Estate, which means the Laguna flagship is the Privilege hatch. Above the Dynamique, it adds niceties such as leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and Xenon headlights with washers. The spare wheel on all models is a space-saver.

The company is counting on the Laguna Estate stealing sales from up-spec compact SUVs such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, as well as the wagon versions of the Passat, 407, C5, Mondeo and Mazda6.

Since July 2008, Laguna sales have barely registered a blip in Australia, with around 30 finding homes. Until the end of April this year, just 27 units were sold, compared with 99 of the outgoing X74 dCi hatch over the same period in 2008.

Renault says only about seven per cent of the segment was being served by the Laguna hatch diesel-auto combination up until now, and that the introduction of the Estate and 2.0t petrol will greatly lift its appeal.

Around 200 sales are forecast for the year, with the hatch accounting for about 35 per cent of volume, while petrol is expected to outsell diesel four-to-one.

Renault had forecast about 500 sales a year before the global financial crisis struck hard.

*Due to confusion over ACCC pricing policy introduced on May 25, 2009, car companies are taking the view that it is no longer legal to supply the media with recommended retail car prices. GoAuto will continue to supply indicative prices (when we can get them) to assist consumers in their buying decisions during this period of confusion. Meanwhile, buyers should be aware that additional fees and government charges on registration of the vehicle of some thousands of dollars can be charged on top of these prices. Until the industry can resolve this issue with the ACCC, car buyers are advised to contact their car dealer to confirm prices.

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