Car reviews - Renault - Laguna - range
25 Jun 1995
SEVERAL importers have represented Renault locally since the French marque first arrived here with the Juvaquatre in 1946. In its various guises, Renault Australia has assembled a diverse range of cars in Melbourne, such as the 10, 12. 16, 18, 20, Peugeot 404, 505 and even the Ford TE/TF Cortina wagon. Before its 2001 resurrection by Nissan Australia, a pre-Ford Volvo Car Australia (VCA) had control. The stylish and appealing front-wheel drive Laguna five-door hatchback featured here was to be its almost sure-fire hit assault on the local prestige market above the bland, Corolla-sized 19. Two engines were offered in the Laguna – the 83kW/168Nm F3R 2.0-litre four-cylinder and the 123kW/235Nm Z7X 3.0-litre V6, the former powering the RXE in either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic guises, and the latter as the auto-only ‘V6’ model. Equipment levels were high – all featured a driver’s airbag, anti-lock brakes and power steering. But despite favourable reviews and keen pricing, VCA’s plans went up in a bang along with the French Government’s extremely unpopular decision to test nuclear bombs in the Pacific. The subsequent anti-French fallout hamstrung Laguna sales locally (a Renault 12 was even publicly set alight in protest), forcing VCA – whose international relationship with Renault soured soon after an aborted merger agreement – to drop the franchise in 1996. It was only Renault’s 1999 rescue and control of the near-bankrupt Nissan Motor Corporation that cleared the way for its return to Australia two years later. The second-generation Laguna followed from March ’02.
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Model release date: 1 May 1995 to 1 July 1996
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