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First look: Renault unveils new Laguna

What a Galle: New five-door Laguna will have the latest 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed auto when it comes to Australia in mid-2008.

Renault unveils all-new Laguna, with a single-spec turbo-diesel to arrive in 2008

5 Jun 2007

RENAULT has revealed images of its all-new Laguna – almost four months ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show and a full year before it arrives in Australia.

Having sold in disappointingly small numbers since returning to Australia as a single-spec model only seven months ago, the third-generation Laguna is expected to once again be available here only with a turbo-diesel engine.

It is possible that the wagon variant may be introduced here alongside the standard five-door hatchback.

The current 102kW 2.2-litre diesel engine will give way to a smaller but more powerful and efficient 2.0-litre dCi using a low-inertia variable geometry turbo and producing 110kW of power.

The service interval for this engine has been increased to 30,000km, the timing chain never needs replacing, fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 6.0L/100km and it meets coming Euro V emissions levels.

It drives through a new six-speed automatic transmission in place of the existing five-speed unit.

35 center imageAlthough Renault Australia managing director Rudi Koenig told GoAuto at the Melbourne International Motor Show in March that he hoped the next-generation Laguna would come here as a full range, his ambitions may be tempered by the model’s sales record in this country.

Re-introduced with high expectations last October as a spearhead for Renault’s diesel push almost a year after the petrol version was discontinued, the Laguna has barely bothered the scorers with only 21 sales this year.

A Renault Australia spokesman said that the Laguna had received little advertising support and was “never going to be a big seller”, but admitted that it has fallen well short of expectations.

More luxurious than the current model, the new Laguna is expected to be slightly more expensive than the current car’s $46,990.

Renault views the Laguna as a Grand Tourer and its stylists went for an elegant look, its smooth lines interrupted only by a fashionable hard edge sloping down the waist from the tail.

It has a long, sloping bonnet leading down to a fairly plain nose while at the rear the high-mounted LED tail-lights accentuate the height of the short deck.

Overall length has grown from 4576mm to 4690mm.

Inside, the dashboard sweeps elegantly across the width of the car while the centre console contains an electronic parking brake, a cruise control button and an on-board controller for many of the entertainment, air-conditioning and communications functions. Some models feature an F1-style flat-bottom steering wheel.

A new air-conditioning system developed with Nissan for the US market should benefit Australian buyers while interior comfort has been further improved through particular attention to the insulation between the engine bay and the cabin. Renault claims it is the most silent vehicle in its segment.

Nevertheless, the new Laguna is claimed to be the first Renault that is lighter than its predecessor, being on average 15kg lighter than the model it replaces.

As well as the 2.0-litre dCi engine (in three power outputs – 96kW, 110kW and 127kW), European models also come with an 81kW 1.5-litre turbo-diesel and a 103kW 2.0-litre petrol engine developed jointly with Nissan.

In the quest for better driving dynamics, the engineers have made the suspension up to 50 per cent firmer than before to reduce bodyroll while the steering ratio has been changed to produce sharper response.

A new-generation double side airbag (thorax plus pelvis) has been fitted, with sensors located in the front door and the centre pillar that are used to set the release time according to the severity of the impact.

Renault claims that it tested more than 120 prototypes over “the equivalent of” six million kilometres over extreme road and climatic conditions, including Australia.

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