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Driven: Renault Laguna GT – on sale now

Renault

Factsheet

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Review

The Renault Laguna GT is a bit of a puzzler. On paper it has performance saloon credentials with more than 200bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds, which will make buyers question why it wasn’t developed into a full Renaultsport version.

The first thing you notice is that, from the outside, it’s difficult to distinguish the GT from the rest of the Laguna model line-up. It’s a bit of a plain Jane – the only noticeable differences are special alloy wheels with a smoked chrome finish, a rear wing and a lower air intake grille. It’s a far cry from the great performance styling applied to the Renaultsport versions of the Mégane and the previous generation Clio.

Behind the wheel there’s also a lack of performance pointers, aside from leather seats with red centres and an aluminium gear shift. But once you start driving the GT, it becomes apparent why the manufacturer decided not to establish it as part of the Renaultsport range.

Although it has been lowered by 10mm and has its own specific sports chassis set-up, the GT is a long way off being a true performance car. The lower ride height certainly improves cornering, but the vague steering lacks feedback and it’s difficult to feel confident when trying to push the car to its limits. Even in a straight line it can easily lose it’s manners and trying to use the 200bhp to its peak on a wet road is the equivalent of attempting to catch a hyperactive salmon with your bare hands.

It’s clear that the Laguna was never designed to be a performance car and its chassis is much happier soaking up bumps as a cruiser, rather than being thrown around tight twisting roads.

It’s probably a saving grace that Renault did not add Laguna to its Renaultsport range as it would have done more harm than good to the brand. But this raises the question: why have the variant in the model line-up at all?

For most buyers, Renault’s choice of excellent diesel engines wins hands down, and for those wanting petrol performance, the 3.0-litre V6 is a much more accomplished unit.

Strengths: Quality interior
Weaknesses: Bland looks, lack of grip and insipid handling
Opportunity: Can take on performance rivals on paper
Threat: In reality it’s simply not good enough
The USP: Laguna GT is more tepid than hot hatch
Price: £21,355
Engines: 2.0-litre turbo petrol; 201bhp @ 5000rpm; 221 lb ft @ 3750
Performance: 0-62mph: 7.2sec; top speed: 146mph
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Efficiency: 33.2mpg (combined); 200g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £5,275 (25%)
Rivals: Vauxhall Vectra 2.0T SRi, Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 JTS TI

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