Handsome and well-made, but low speed ride disappoints

What is it?

The third member of the Renault Laguna family – and the best-looking version by a mile. Renault only aims to sell about 2000 Laguna Coupes a year in the UK, but it hopes that this sophisticated-looking fastback will add some much-needed drama to the whole range.

GT spec brings leather upholstery and Renault’s rear-steer system, which boosts both low-speed manoeverability and high-speed stability.

The Coupe is about 7cm shorter in the wheelbase, and has a 3cm wider track than other Lagunas. UK buyers will be able to pick a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, a 2.0-litre turbodiesel and a 3.5-litre petrol V6.

However, we opted to test the range-topping powerplant, an all-new 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 with 235bhp which will be shared with forthcoming Infiniti models.

This drives through a standard six-speed automatic gearbox, and produces an impressive 332lb ft of torque at just 1500 rpm.

What's it like?

The Laguna Coupe’s cabin is stylish and deeply impressive, continuing the good work begun in the existing Lagana hatch and estate.

The fascia has tasteful aluminium facings, plus superbly designed switchgear which is the match of any premium rival in terms of both look and feel.

All Coupe models get sportier seats and extra under-thigh support at their edge. The interior can carry four adults at a rather snug pinch, and the overall effect is luxurious and airy.

On the road, the Coupe keeps the refinement of the Laguna hatchback, offering excellent high-speed cruising. The engine is turning over at just 2700rpm at an indicated 100mph, and wind noise is very low.

The Coupe also gets firmer spring and damper settings, which can mean there’s a lumpiness in the ride at low speeds that takes getting used to.

Yet over suburban bumps it feels quiet and taut: Renault has found an extra 25 per cent of torsional stiffness in the two-door body, compared with the hatchback.

The engine’s strong output does a decent job of motivating the Laguna Coupe’s 1500kg body in a suitably sporty fashion.

The car feels powerful and long-legged, although its autobox can be a mite unresponsive when asked to provide a kickdown for overtaking. For quick downchanges the driver is better advised to intervene via the (pleasant-to-use) selector.

The diesel is barely recognisable as such above idle, only the 5000rpm redline on the tacho serves to give the game away, and in real-world driving it feels every bit as brisk as the petrol V6.

The four-wheel steer system works well, sharpening response in roundabouts, yet taming untidy high-speed lane-change manoeuvres.

Renault engineers say a tweak that started as a simple safety gadget has turned out to be an aid to driving pleasure, adding an 'on rails' feel in long, fast bends.

Should I buy one?

You should certainly give it serious consideration. This is a very good car: handsome, well-made, well-equipped and perfect for fast cruising. The low-speed ride isn’t the best in the business, but it’s a great high-speed mile-muncher.

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The V6 turbodiesel seems like an especially good option, especially as it emits just 192g/km of CO2, can crack 150mph and sprints from 0-62mph in just 7.0 seconds.

But would you choose one against a BMW, Audi or Mercedes? That’s a tough choice, but the Laguna does bring comparable quality, more equipment for your money – and the guarantee of greater exclusivity. Perhaps it's time to be different.


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ethnotechnic3 22 October 2008

Re: Renault Laguna Coupe 3.0 V6 dCi

stopitjon wrote:
As is usually the case, the real model isn't a patch on the concept.

It stays pretty true to the Laguna Coupe Concept to me - the only obvious omissions are the scissor doors, but they were never really going to happen. Just get one in white, and add black after-market alloys and it will look like the concept (minus scissor doors). I saw it in the metal at the Paris show and thought it was very elegant, both inside and out. A GT, as opposed to a sports car, especially with that V6 diesel power delivery (if not the soundtrack). A refreshing alternative to German machines.

As for wheel bases that look too short - take a look at a Brera! Now there's a coupe that could have looked so good but just looks so wrong

Michael325 22 October 2008

Re: Renault Laguna Coupe 3.0 V6 dCi

I suppose it makes sense for Renault to make a more restrained coupe when they have Nissan in the stable to deliver the more overtly sporty offerings.

glorfindel 22 October 2008

Re: Renault Laguna Coupe 3.0 V6 dCi

The concept car was very attractive, but the production car is bold and with no sportiness, as usual for Renault.