Impressive technology still doesn't make the Laguna as good as the Mondeo

What is it?

The diesel-powered version of the range-topping “GT” spec Laguna, complete with trick four-wheel steering and copious standard kit. We’ve already tested the petrol-powered version, but the vast majority of British buyers will opt for the considerably more frugal diesel.

Power comes from a 177bhp version of Renault’s 2.0 litre common-rail turbodiesel, which is claimed to propel the Laguna from 0-62 mph in 8.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 139 mph. But the main point of differentiation between the GT and the lower reaches of the range is active rear steering, which improves manoeuvrability at low speed and is claimed to sharpen dynamic responses under harder use.

What’s it like?

In short, a slightly sportier Laguna. The GT’s steering wheel certainly delivers better responses than the vague-feeling helm of the standard car, but it doesn’t feel like a dynamic match for the Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6. Indeed, apart from the impressively tight turning circle, drivers will rarely notice any effect from the rear-steer system at anything other than silly speeds.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is a strong performer, delivering meaty urge from 2000 rpm onwards, and refinement levels are good at cruising speeds, too. All of which makes the GT’s distinctly clumpy ride quality more of a disappointment, the suspension transmitting hard edges into the cabin at both high and low speeds.

Which is a shame – the standard Laguna’s smooth motorway manners are one of the things we like about it. On the plus side the cabin is as well finished as every other Laguna, and the GT comes with generous standard specification including an impressively clear-voiced audio system.

So, should I buy one?

The rear-wheel steering system is an impressive technical feat, but it doesn’t save the top-spec Laguna from the status of being an also-ran, albeit a very well equipped one, in this hard-fought market segment.

Mike Duff

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Comments
1

16 May 2008

I thought this would be a car you Brits love, fun to drive and all that. Here in Germany the car magazines don`t really rate this, of course all Mercedes or BMW are great. But since the magazines in Britain always emphasize this point, I thought the GT would score big, especially since the Laguna is supposed to be even quicker than a Boxster around corners. But it shows, even though you guys love the hot hatches from Renault, the Laguna doesn´t catch on, what a disapointment for Renault. I guess I´ll have to drive one myself, I just can´t believe the ride is as bad as you guys say it is, but I might be surprised. Just another thing, you always rate the Mondeo as a great car, but isn´t the thing just gotten too big? I can´t see how a monster like that can handle great. I guess just another car i´ll have to take for a spin.

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