1 Apr 2011
Renault took a different approach with its Laguna-replacing large sedan, partnering with its South Korean partner Samsung and utilising more technology from its ‘alliance’ partner Nissan.
The result was a larger, cheaper and better equipped contender in a segment in which the French manufacturer has traditionally struggled.
While traditional Renault hallmarks like class-leading safety and distinguished cabin presentation continued, gone was the outgoing MkIII Laguna’s choppy ride, sloppy suspension and dead steering feel.
The Latitude came with the option of a 133kW/235Nm 2.5-litre petrol V6, lifted from the Nissan Maxima, which returned combined fuel consumption of 9.7 litres per 100km, and a lusty 127kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four that returned just 6.5L/100km.
Both engines came with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard. Safety was, as you’d expect from Renault, excellent, with six airbags, electronic stability/traction control, ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency brake assist, automatic hazard light activation, five three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load-limiters, anti-pinch power windows and cruise control with speed limiter all standard.
All Latitudes came with enough standard equipment to shame a Calais or Statesman, with a list comprising black leather seats, steering wheel and gearshifter trim, a fully integrated satellite-navigation system, ‘3D Sound by Arkamys’ sound system, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, a multimedia connection box and keyless entry with starting via a Renault Smart Card Key.
Also standard were front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers and headlights, foglights, dual-zone climate-control with rear outlets, an automatic parking brake, body-coloured heated/power-folding door mirrors with integrated repeater lamps, chrome exterior trim and 17-inch wheels including a full-size spare.
The flagship Luxe models got premium features like a panoramic glass sunroof, reversing camera, driver’s seat massage function, premium Bose sound system, tri-zone climate-control and an air ioniser that dispersed fragrance into the cabin.
Sadly, though, while soft-touch surfaces covered all of the important areas – including the dash, doors and sliding centre armrest - the hard plastic centre stack surround creaked in corners or when you pushed you knee against it, the Luxe’s airy panoramic sunroof robbed too much front headroom and the integrated colour navigation screen looked small and lost within the much larger dash-top recess it resided in.
However, firmish front seatbacks were the only other ergonomic shortfall within this highly commodious cabin, which offered a plethora of storage spaces including a massive glovebox and centre console bin, plenty of steering wheel reach and rake adjustment, a handy electric park brake and a 60/40-split folding rear seat to expand a big boot that housed a full-size spare.
When it was new