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Renault's Laguna la goner?

Lagging behind: Renault is sticking with current stocks of the Laguna and not the facelift pictured above.

Renault Australia kills off its mid-size car until at least 2007

Renault logo10 Jun 2005

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

RENAULT’S decision late last year not to introduce the 2005 Laguna locally does not mean the end of the line for the model in Australia.

"We haven’t been happy with the changes made to the Laguna with the facelift, that were sufficient to address the real issues of Laguna in this market," Mr Koenig said.

Priced from $39,990 to $48,990, the front-wheel drive, medium-sized 2.0-litre and V6-powered hatchback and wagon suffers massively against rivals such as the far more successful in-house Nissan Maxima and Honda’s Accord.

Part of the problem has been the car’s parentage, since its traditional role has been to fight in the shrinking medium-sized market against models such as the Holden Vectra and Ford Mondeo.

Mr Koenig was surprisingly frank about the French car’s failings here.

"Laguna is a very good product but the minor running changes means issues like the size of the car – it’s probably a bit narrow compared to some of its competitors – and the (high) pricing point among other things haven’t been addressed sufficiently, in our opinion, for it to have a very good chance of success in this market," he said.

Selling the car at a loss is not on Mr Koenig’s agenda.

"Therefore, we don’t want to add to our problems. We want to keep going the way we’re going until the new product becomes available and indications are that it will be sensational.

"There’s a new Laguna in the wings, and we’re certainly part of the development process with that," he said.

Meantime, Mr Koenig said stocks of the current, and now outdated model, were high enough to meet customer demand well into next year.

"We’re not going to push the Laguna out the door with stock-runout activities because of our improved financial focus," Mr Koenig said.

Reportedly espousing styling similar to the 2003 Fluence concept car, the next Laguna is expected to share its underpinnings with the corresponding new-generation Maxima that will be out in Japan first in around two years’ time.

Following almost immediately after (the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show is a possibility), this almost guarantees a larger, wider model, which is still expected to be front-wheel drive.

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