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First drive: Renault Laguna Dynamique - on sale now



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When Renault launched the current Laguna in early 2001, it was quite a revolution in the otherwise bland mainstream D-sector.

Four years on and the French manufacturer has given the Laguna a mid-life facelift. Renault has seen sales decline so far this year. However, the manufacturer predicts a total figure of 10,000 units for 2005.

The noticeable exterior changes are at the front with new light clusters, bumper and grille, which give it the new Renault family face. At the back, the only significant changes are altered taillights.

One of the main bugbears of the previous model was the artificial feel of the steering and critics also disliked the handling. The manufacturer has taken note and claims that engineers have worked to provide drivers with a more realistic feel while maintaining good levels of comfort.

The Laguna II is much more composed on bends with considerably less body roll. The 2.0-litre engine with 135bhp is more than adequate and never feels strained, even when revved. This is now the entry level engine, the 1.8-litre has been dropped, while the 2.0-litre turbo 165 is now uprated to 170bhp.

The 3.0-litre V6 24V, which delivers 210bhp via a five-speed proactive automatic transmission, is available on the range–topping luxury model, the Initiale.

The top selling 1.9 dCi 120 is now available in a Euro IV emission version with a 10bhp power upgrade to 130bhp, while the entry-level 1.9 dCi 90 Euro IV is upgraded to 95bhp. The fourth diesel unit remains the 2.2 dCi 150.

The real excitement in the revised Laguna range is the GT205, which features a turbocharged version of the same 2.0-litre unit, only tuned to 205bhp (hence the moniker). This propels the GT version from 0-62mph in 7.2sec, just 0.1sec slower than the Clio Renaultsport 182.

Strengths: Improvement over previous cars, good motorway cruiser
Weaknesses: Fiddly handbrake operation
Opportunity: Facelift gives Laguna new sales impetus
Threat: Direct competitors have fresher models
The USP: Renault gives the Laguna an overhaul
Price: £16,825
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Performance: 2.0-litre 16V 135bhp; 0-62mph: 9.8sec; top speed: 128mph
Efficiency: 35.7mpg; 187g/km CO2
CAP RV 30k/3yr: £5,025 (30%)
Rivals: Peugeot 407, Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Vectra, Honda Accord, Toyota Avensis

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