Shed of the Week: Renault Laguna GT

Laguna. Say it loud and there's music playing. Say it soft and it's almost like praying.

Actually, that's Maria from West Side Story. Shed isn't afraid or ashamed to admit that he's quite partial to a musical. He used to watch all the matinees up Soho after collecting Mrs Shed from the big casino where she worked as a croupier, sucking up to the high rollers who paid big money to play roulette all day and poker all night.

Back then Shed smoked around in a 1.9-litre Laguna diesel. Although it had none of the quirkiness that typified French motors in the grand old days of yore - we're talking 305 Peugeots and Renault 6s here - it was nevertheless an unpretentious and functional sort of beast that served him well.

If, in the mid 2000s, you'd told him there was such a thing as a Laguna GT205 churning out 200hp-plus, he might have questioned his own sanity. At the very least it would have made a nice change from Mrs Shed questioning it all the time. And yet, here it is, le proof de la pudding, in Shed de la Semaine.

The GT205 was up at the pointy end of a 2005 Laguna refresh which was mainly about (a) introducing Renault's new face and (b) reducing the damage to pedestrians' faces when they hit Renault's new face with their own faces.

As so often happens when safety is driving the bus, elegance took a back seat to style. Somehow, the new '05 Laguna managed to look even more boring than the old one, which was quite an achievement as the '04 one was about as conservative as a conservative person sitting in a Conservative Club, thinking conservatively.

But if you ignored the external looks of the thing and concentrated on what was in front of you, things weren't so bad. You had your 3D sat-nav, your Keyless Go, and your nicer cabin materials. You had your stiffer suspension and your tweaked gearshift action.

And in the GT205 you had a slightly detuned version of the 2.0-litre turbo four that produced 222hp in the Renaultsport MΓ©gane 225. Running through a six-speed box, that made it good for low-7-second 0-60 times. The suspension took an additional 10mm drop on even stiffer springs. There was weightier steering and bigger brakes.

It's all sounding quite promising so far, but let's not get carried away. It was still a Laguna, after all, France's equivalent of the Mondeo or perhaps more accurately the Vectra. This was no firebreather of an engine: it was more a case of warm breath that turned into a bit of an old-man wheeze if you tried hanging onto the revs in a vain search for some top-end power. The excitement was pretty much done by 5000rpm.

But as a competent and under-the-radar tool for putting away big mileages fast, this is a little-known gem. The midrange torque is meaty across a 3000rpm range starting at 2250rpm and peaking at a highly respectable 221lb ft. She will respond to a flowing hand rather than a violent one. Pick your corner line early and you'll be pleasantly shocked by the car's flat attitude and body control. Touring can be surprisingly grand in a Laguna GT205.

The only cabin dΓ©cor for this model was what you see here, black leather with dark red inserts cloaking really good seat frames. The wheel is wrapped in leather and so, it would seem on this one at least, is the gearlever - although Shed seems to recall that factory cars were meant to have Puma-style aluminium balls.

Mind you, his memory isn't what it once was. Well, he thinks that's true anyway. What is for sure is that there aren't many of these GT205s around. Very few were brought into the UK in the first place, as folk like Shed kept saying things like "no, no, we want 130hp diesels'. There's still some mystery in the mainstream limited production French performance saloon. It might take a bit of finding in this case, but you may well be rewarded by what you uncover.

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Comments (72) Join the discussion on the forum

  • f1nn 19 Apr 2018

    I wasn't aware they sold one with a turbo 4 pot petrol...interesting shed.

  • ReaperCushions 20 Apr 2018

    Certainly got some geeky curio factor that's for sure. Its still a mid 2000's fwd French car though.. so you'll be on first name terms with an auto sparky that's for sure.

  • Mr Tidy 20 Apr 2018

    Interesting car that I'd never noticed - surely at that price (within "old" shed budget) it might be worth a punt?

  • Cambs_Stuart 20 Apr 2018

    I'd prefer the V8 jag from a couple of weeks ago.

  • alorotom 20 Apr 2018

    Excellent cheap little sleeper and super low-key

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