1 May 1995
Several importers have represented Renault locally since the French marque 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 was to be its almost sure-fire 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, power steering, climate control air-conditioning, central locking, fog lights and a trip computer, while the V6 added cruise control, alloy wheels, power front seats and a rear spoiler.
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.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
25th of June 1995
Renault 1995 Laguna range