Renault Laguna Coupe
Alisdair Suttie drives Renault's new 150mph Laguna Coupe...
Remember Renault’s last foray into the coupe market with the Avantime? It sold less than 400 in the UK during an inglorious year or so on the books and has now trundled off into curio-obscurity. Renault’s new offering to the two-door fastback style gods is the Laguna Coupe.
There’s a host of clever details in the shape, from the Aston-esque rear lights (and front grille at a push) through to the slinky silver grille at the front. In profile, the Laguna Coupe is a cracker, though from some other angles it doesn’t quite gel together in the way a Mazda RX-8 or Volkswagen Scirocco does. No problem, says Renault, as it reckons the Laguna Coupe will be taking on the likes of Audi’s A5 and the BMW 3-Series. Um, how can we put this politely? No, it won’t.
For starters, where the Germans come up trumps on the ride and handling combo, the Laguna Coupe has not decided where it sits in the equation. The ride is just too firm and jittery on smooth roads, while more creased surfaces show up an underlying paucity of control in the suspension that translates into stuttering progress. This was far more noticeable in the 3.5-litre V6 petrol model we tried than the 3.0 V6 dCi turbodiesel, though the diesel was still not as composed as a Scirocco.
Come to a corner and the Laguna Coupe redeems itself with grip that shows little sign of giving up unless the driver has no imagination of the consequences. The standard ESP keeps its nose out, even during keen driving, and only comes into play when matters get out of hand.
Much more of a hindrance was the ABS that cut in too early and sent the hazard warning lights flashing as the car was too readily fooled into mistaking hard braking for an emergency stop. The steering doesn’t have as much feel as a Mazda RX-8’s or BMW 3-Series Coupe’s, but if you consider the Renault as more of a grand tourer than sports coupe, you won’t be so disappointed.
Use the manual override on a twisty road to change down a gear and it takes so long to respond so that you’re halfway through the corner when it does and you don’t want the sudden lurch of a downchange. Throw in performance that’s adequate in the petrol (0-62mph in 7.4 seconds and 153mph) and acceptable in the diesel (0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and 151mph) and the Laguna Coupe is no keen driver’s delight.
When the Laguna Coupe hits UK roads at the start of 2009, there will also be the choice of a 205bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol and 2.0-litre turbodiesels in 150 and 180bhp guises. These models will be the bigger sellers and more attractive driving propositions with their six-speed manual gearboxes. The 2.0-litre petrol and 150bhp diesel will be offered in standard Coupe trim, which includes climate control, CD stereo, eight airbags, rear parking sensors and 18in alloy wheels. Or, you can go for the GT.
The Laguna Coupe GT comes with a choice of the two V6 engines, and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol and 180bhp diesel engines. These models come with leather seats, keyless entry and ignition, and an electric parking brake, but the biggest addition is the 4Control chassis. It’s the same as used in the hatchback Laguna GT, where the rear wheels can steer by up to 3.5-degrees to help the car park more easily or turn more keenly into a corner.
A greater attraction will be the entry-level 2.0 dCi 150 at £20,995, which has all of the interior space and looks of the other models, but at a significantly lower price. This model also manages reasonable carbon dioxide emissions, so company drivers will be steering towards this version. Will the pricing of the Laguna Coupe help it join the Avantime in coupe obscurity? No, but it may well be a rare sight on UK roads.