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The Warsaw Voice » Society » May 7, 2008
AUTO: Renault Laguna 2.0 Privilege
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Original Style in Take Three
May 7, 2008   
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The revamped Renault Laguna is vying for pole position among mid-range cars. Will its original style, extensive equipment and high safety specifications be enough to outperform its competitors in the segment?

The third-generation Laguna hit the market last fall. Production of the model started in 2000 and it underwent a facelift five years later. Then the automaker was hard pressed to come up with yet another facelift because the market had become crowded: new versions of the Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, and Honda Accord appeared in the showrooms, not to mention automotive icons such as the Audi A4, BMW Series 3 and Mercedes C-Class. Because of high sales and brand prestige, most automakers pay special attention to mid-range (segment D) cars.

The new Laguna is available in two versions: as a five-door liftback (in which the rear window opens together with the hatch) and a station wagon. Later this year a coupé is also expected to be unveiled.

The liftback is intriguing and original. The new Laguna stands out on the road with its balanced proportions, an elegant line and atypical headlights and taillights. The French designers focused their attention on the car's style and came up with a design that surprised everyone. It is difficult to confuse the Laguna with any other model in the segment.

The interior is spacious (with a wheelbase of 2,756 mm) and features high-quality finish. Five adult passengers can travel in the car in comfort; they have a 450-liter luggage compartment at their disposal. The bad news is that there is not enough headroom for tall passengers in the back seats.

The dashboard is similar in shape to those available in the BMW Series 3 or 5. It is not only attractive but also easy to use. All the indicators and controls are where they belong. The three-spoke "meaty" steering wheel lies perfectly in the hand, and the multi-stage adjustment of the seat makes it possible even for tall drivers to find an optimal position for themselves. The seats are springy and well profiled and comfortable even during long-distance trips. At the same time, they do a good job holding the driver in place during sharp turns. Travel comfort is enhanced by extensive standard equipment in the Privilege trim level, which includes a multifunction steering wheel, a high-class audio/CD/MP3 system, an electric package, cruise control, dual-zone electronic air-conditioning, an electric handbrake, and bixenon headlights. Safety features include a set of front and side airbags and air curtains, in addition to ABS and ESP systems. The Laguna has won the highest five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.

The test-drive unit was fitted with a gasoline 2l/140 hp engine with a maximum torque of 195Nm at 3,750 rpm. This made it possible to accelerate the 1,369 kg car from 0 to 100 kph in just over 9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 210 kph. The engine makes little noise and the car is quiet inside even at speed and during acceleration. Average fuel consumption given by the producer is 7.9l/100km. During the test-drive, consumption was more than 1 liter higher. The six-speed manual transmission works precisely, transmitting power to the front wheels. The springy suspension enables dynamic driving, but not at the expense of travel comfort. The test-drive unit, with a 2l/140 hp engine and a wide range of standard equipment, cost slightly under zl.94,000.

Time will tell if the undoubted strengths of the new Laguna, including its price, are enough to win over buyers in the mid-range segment.
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