What is it?
It’s a curious kind of car, the new Laguna. On the one hand it is very obviously a much higher-quality product than the one it replaces; on the other it’s also just as obviously not as good as a Ford Mondeo.
So although the new Laguna will no doubt be seen as a welcome addition to the fleet market ranks, it’s not a car that knocks your socks off at 50 paces. It is France’s answer to that most predictable (but successful) of German family cars, the VW Passat. Even the UK ad campaign focuses clearly on the car’s dependability.
What's it like?
The trouble is, in order to achieve this undeniable level of quality inside, something has had to give. Items such as soft-feel, satin-finish dashboards and part-leather, part-Alcantara seats lift the interior to a level that no Ford Mondeo driver has ever seen, and that’s a terrific achievement.
But the flipside is that Renault can’t have had much budget left to spend on the car’s underpinnings, otherwise it would never have sent it into battle equipped with a twist beam rear axle.
Result? Although the new Laguna has its moments dynamically (it steers with decent precision and has serious grip when fitted with optional 18in tyres) it is, in most areas, nowhere beside the Mondeo.
The ride is noisy and choppy beside the Ford’s, the brakes have a peculiar lack of feel when you lean on them hard and the level of mechanical refinement isn’t where it should be on a car with such obvious mile-eating intentions.
The test car we drove was the 150 dCi, likely to be the most popular model, yet engine response below 1500rpm was as flat as anything, allowing you to be easily caught off-guard at roundabouts.
Having said that, once into its stride the Laguna goes more than well enough, despite a sticky six-speed manual gearbox.
Should I buy one?
All in all, the Laguna 3 is at best a ‘seven out of 10’ car. And perhaps that’s all Renault UK wants it to be this time round. Unless cabin quality is your top priority, we wouldn't recommend getting a Laguna as top priority.