Renault Laguna Sport Tourer

Renault chose to play it fairly safe, in styling terms, when it launched the new Laguna in October. So, when I picked up the new Laguna Sports Tourer - which won't go on sale until January 2008 - it didn't really attract much attention for a model that no-one had seen on the roads yet.

The only exception was an employee of our local Mercedes Benz dealer who exclaimed at how nice it was, after peering through the window. Perhaps that is no co-incidence. The interior of this car sets new standards for Renault. It looks and feels a bit more like it had been put together in a German, rather than French, factory. Although, the added bonus is that it perhaps has a little more Gallic design flair than some of the sombre, no-nonsense German car interiors.

Renault Laguna Sports Tourer

So it looks good, if not eye-catching. The new Renault Laguna Tourer is also very practical. Passenger space is good and the luggage area is excellent with a good flat load floor.

The controls are generally good and I felt quite at home behind the wheel, apart from the electronic handbrake. I really don't like the current fashion for electronic handbrakes on manual cars. It's more fiddly in traffic and can be quite tricky for hill starts. Although the brake does simply release itself when you drive off.

I also usually wonder why there is the current fashion for a separate start button. Why have to carry out two functions (put the key in and then press a button) where one (key in and twist) used to suffice. But, at least on this Renault you don't need the key. As long as you have the card on your person, the doors will open for you and the engine will start.

The test car had Renault's new 2.0 dCi 175 engine. It is impressive. For a diesel it is extremely quiet and there is no harshness transmitted into the interior. However, I still miss the instant throttle response of petrol engines. As with many diesels, this one feels as though someone has fitted a bit of elastic into the throttle linkage.

It's hard to argue with the economy though and even I can see the logic of the diesel when you look at the average consumption. My daily 40-plus mile commute, returned over 40 mpg – a remarkable figure for a full-size, spacious family estate car.

My 44-mile daily commute returned more than 40 mpg, which is remarkable for a spacious estate car. It's also a responsive and willing unit. Acceleration 0-62 mph is dispatched in a very rapid 8.7 seconds and the Sports Tourer will pull strongly right through to the legal limit. It is very happy cruising quietly and serenely on dual carriageways.

Good flat load area

It is also quite a good companion when you pull off onto the B-roads. The feedback is not up there with the best, and poor road surfaces can cause this car some distress, with the occasional protest.

The Renault Laguna Sports Tourer 2.0 dCi Dynamic S comes loaded with equipment at £20,650.
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