Great engine, average car. The pick of the Laguna range, though.

What is it?

This engine could be the new Laguna’s saving grace. It’s the 173bhp version of Renault’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel (also available in 128bhp and 148bhp form) and is the flagship of the Laguna range.

What’s it like?

As in the 148bhp version, twin balancer shafts mean a smooth, free-revving power delivery, and refinement in the cabin is impressive. Only BMW and Peugeot-Citroën make comparably smooth diesels.

The high torque peak of 2000rpm makes for a pretty narrow powerband, and the engine can feel lethargic below this point. But as long as you don’t get caught in the wrong gear, 280lb ft of torque is enough to shift the Laguna along at a decent lick. We’re not talking six-cylinder BMW and Audi diesel levels of performance, but it feels a step above a Mondeo TDCi 140.

Real torque junkies will be disappointed, however – Renault engineers say the transmission’s CV joints won’t take any more than 280lb ft.

The downfall of powerful four-cylinder turbodiesels is often surprisingly poor fuel economy. Not here. Renault claims a combined mpg figure of 42.8mpg. We only managed 37.6mpg over a mixture of winding A-roads, motorways and urban sprawl, but our long-term Mondeo TDCi has only been returning 39mpg, and the Laguna dCi 150 that we road tested returned 40mpg.

Despite only riding on 17-inch wheels, the Laguna never feels settled, crashing over expansion joints and potholes and floating uncomfortably over longer undulations. The driving position isn’t the best either, never offering quite enough adjustment.

But the Sport Tourer is the prettiest Laguna (at least until the seductively styled coupé comes along). It’s elegantly proportioned and does away with the hatch’s awkward rear end. Inside, you’ll find the same attractive cabin architecture as in the hatch, some very comfy seats and a suitably cavernous boot.

Should I buy one?

The Laguna Sport Tourer dCi 175 is a flawed car, but it’s not without its charms. If you want a fast, refined turbodiesel estate that’s attractive and unusual inside and out, then look no further.

Matt Rigby

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nh 11 January 2008

Re: Renault Laguna 2.0 dCi 175 estate

Well, I didn't try the i-ctdi in the Civic and CR-V. However, I did read that in both cases testers found it not quite as quiet and refined as in the Accord.

As for BMW 6-cylinders diesels: they might have evolved recently. But in my colleagues' 530d (180 000km +) and (especially!) Range (25 000km), the 3-litre causes more vibrations in the seats then I remember from my father's 1975 Peugeot 504 2.1 GLD... It might make some women happy, though.

Matt Rigby 11 January 2008

Re: Renault Laguna 2.0 dCi 175 estate

I was actually thinking of the six-cylinder BMW diesels (should have been more specific there) – I think the 318/320d can feel almost gruff sometimes.

I've not driven the i-ctdi in the current Accord, but judging from my experiences of the engine in both the Civic and CR-V, I don't think it's quite on a par with the Renault (but then that isn't exactly comparing like for like, so isn't a fair comparison to make on my part).

Have a look on the website for Chas Hallett's recent drive of the next-gen Honda diesel, though - I think 2008 could be a good year for Honda diesels…

nh 11 January 2008

Re: Renault Laguna 2.0 dCi 175 estate

"Only BMW and Peugeot-Citroën make comparably smooth diesels."?

I can't say anything about the Peugeot-Citroën, nor the Renault engine. I haven't driven them and actually don't have any desire to do so.

But I have quite some experience with the engine in the 318/320d and I suggest you'd compare it with the i-ctdi in the current Accord. It's not that it might change your perspective; it will.