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First drive: Viva Laguna, Renault tells Australia

Top French drop: Renault flagship comes in petrol, diesel, hatch or wagon.

All-new Laguna flagship hits the streets as Renault strives to make an impact in Oz

19 Jun 2008

RENAULT Australia has started a fresh new product cycle with the arrival of itsflagship Laguna.

The stylish new mid-sized car is the first of a range of models that will draw attention to the struggling French car-maker – currently holding a tiny 0.3 per cent market share in Australia – with the new Koleos and RenaultSport Clio to follow later this year.

Competing directly with the Volkswagen Passat and Peugeot 407, the third-generation Laguna is bigger, lighter and more powerful than the model it replaces.

It also arrives in Australia just eight months after going on sale in Europe, which is far shorter than Renault’s Down Under arm has had to wait for most other models.

While the company only expects to sell just 500 Lagunas a year it will offerthe new model in several different configurations.

The hatchback has already landed and is available in two different trims, Expression and Privilege, both powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

35 center imageA manual version of the oil-burner in Expression trim will arrive in September, along with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine in Expression and Privilege trim, which combines with a sixspeed auto.

Also arriving in September is the Estate, which will be available with either the petrol or diesel engine – the former in Expression trim only and the latter at Expression or Dynamique levels.

The hatch range will start off at $41,990 for the diesel manual, while the just-arrived automatic costs an extra $2500. Wagon pricing kicks off at $45,490 for the base petrol auto.

Topping off the Laguna range are the Privilege diesel auto hatch and theDynamique diesel automatic, which are both priced from $50,690.

The 2.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel dCi engine, which is already in use in the Trafi c van, produces 110kW of power and 340Nm of torque from just 2000rpm.

It uses just 6.0L/100km when combined with the manual gearbox and 7.0L/100km when fitted with the automatic transmission.

The 2.0-litre turbo four produces 125kW and 270Nm and uses 8.9L/100km with its standard automatic transmission. Renault has retained the MacPherson type front suspension and torsion beam rear, but has made several changes including fitting it with thicker anti-rollbars and added twin tube shock absorbers at the rear.

It also stiffened the steering column and gave the car a new lower steering ratio. Renault clocked up 30,000km testing Laguna prototypes in Australia last year, the first time (in recent years) the company has tested here, which assisted in determining the best settings for our conditions.

The new Laguna hatch is 36mm wider, 12mm taller and 10mm longer than the modelit replaces, while the wagon is 11mm longer again, but has managed to shed 15kg for a total kerb weight of 1536kg (auto diesel).

Interior space has also expanded slightly. A maximum 462 litres of cargo volume is available in the hatch and 501 litres in the wagon, the latter expanding to 1593 litres with the rear seats folded.

Its safety credentials are high, with an outstanding 36 points out of 37 (and five stars) for adult occupant protection in a recent Euro NCAP test. Standard equipment includes electronic stability control and front side and curtain airbags that can be deployed quicker than before thanks to new side impact sensors.

Standard features for the base Expression model also include automatic headlights, an automatic park brake, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, single-CD stereo, 16-inch alloy wheels and rear sunshades that retract into the door trim.

The Dynamique wagon adds more gear while the Privilege is fully loaded witheverything from leather trim with heated front seats and 18-inch rims to Xenonheadlights with a cornering function.

Renault Laguna range pricing:
Expression dCi $41,990
Expression (a) $42,990
Expression dCi (a) $44,490
Privilege dCi (a) $50,690
Expression (a) $45,490
Expression dCi (a) $47,490
Dynamique dCi (a) $50,690

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