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Used car focus Renault Laguna – 2001 onwards

Laguna from 2001 onwards lives up to Renault’s reputation for French flair and sculpted styling. It’s far more substantial than the model it replaced and brings executive style and comfort at a price that’s attractive to most families. What’s not so impressive is its reliability record.

In Parker’s recent survey of 17,000 owners with 784 models, Laguna came bottom when it came to faults.

Although the hatchback is the most popular bodystyle, the classy hatchback has a generous amount of interior space. Trim levels range from the base Authentique with CD player and air conditioning, to Expression with climate control and electric sunroof and Dynamique with sports seats and 17-inch alloy wheels. Top-spec Initiale has electric seats, leather upholstery and a sat-nav system.

As a driving machine, Laguna loses out here to sportier and more dynamic models like Mondeo, Accord and the Mazda6. But while it’s no sports car, it is a confident, competent drive, handling corners with great stability. Once on the motorway, it’s a comfortable cruiser.

Passengers can relax in a decent amount of space, although taller people may feel a little cramped. The cabin is tactile and soothing, but lacks a certain je ne sais quoi... perhaps the va va voom Renault speaks of. It’s OK, no more, no less.

Renault keeps its two-tone plastic dash, but has slapped a big panel of metallic effect trim in the middle. The effect is acceptable, but not particularly stylish – more like a high street attempt at haute couture.

The lower-end 1.6 engine feels strained and isn’t quite up to the job of powering a bigger car; the 1.8 is better, but still needs to be pushed. 2.0 makes life much easier for the driver and is the best petrol unit; the 3.0 V6 is unnecessary and largely ignored by buyers. Laguna’s 1.9 (with 100bhp or 120bhp) and 2.2 diesels are punchy, modern, and most importantly economical – buyers can expect 52mpg from the 1.9 and 43mpg from the 2.2-litre unit.

Laguna was the first car to achieve a top five-star rating for safety. Twin front, side and curtain airbags and ABS are standard. One of Laguna’s biggest marketing features is a card that’s used as a replacement for a key. It’s a good idea, but not as useful as the later system used on the Megane – that card can be used to unlock the car and start the engine without being taken out of a bag or pocket.

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