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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For There's lots of usable space and good levels of equipment. The ride is pleasantly soft, too

Against It's unreliable. Also, the seven-seat option cuts luggage space drastically

Verdict A cheap load-lugger that may cost a mint to run

Go for… 1.9 DTi Alize

Avoid… 2.0 Sport auto

Renault Laguna Estate
  • 1. Immobiliser and alternator faults are common
  • 2. The heating system can rust and leaks into the footwells
  • 3. Auto and manual gearboxes can need a rebuild at any time after 60,000 miles
  • 4. There's plenty of space in the cabin, and a trio of three-point belts across the rear seat
  • 5. The boot is wide, with a flat floor. Optional extra seats eat into luggage space, even when not in use
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Renault Laguna Estate full review with expert trade views

This is a big, boxy estate, built for space, not looks. But, despite the fact it's an old design (which makes it cheap to buy), it’s okay to drive and well equipped.

There's plenty of space in the cabin as well as a trio of three-point belts across the rear seat. It’s light and airy inside, although the seat fabrics look tatty after a while. The boot is very good, too, with a wide, flat cargo area.

You can find some seven-seat models, but they're rare and not really worth bothering with. Their rear-facing extra bench is suitable only for young children and, when not needed, folds to the side, which eats into luggage space.

The Laguna estate rides best when loaded but it's always smooth, although the steering is short on feedback and grip runs out early.

Euro NCAP awarded the car three stars for occupant safety, which is average for a mid-1990s design.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Near impossible to find a mint one. High maintenance costs after 72k cam service

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Seven-seat versions are scarce and those extra two seats eat into the boot space, so we’d stick with five-seaters.

That decided, the 1.9 turbodiesel, available from the car’s 1999 face-lift, is the pick of the range. It pulls hard from low revs, is acceptably smooth and very economical. Otherwise, the 1.8 and 2.0 petrol motors are both fine. We’d give the 1.6 a miss because it struggles when the car is full.

All models from 1999 have a decent amount of equipment, including anti-lock brakes, front and side airbags and remote central locking. The RT model is the cheapest but it's worth looking for the Alize, where air-con is standard. Top-level models are RXE and Monaco – they’re rare, but worth having if fairly priced.

Buy privately or from independent used-car traders, and go for models with a manual gearbox. It may be sloppy but it's still the best bet as the autos are notoriously unreliable.

Trade view

John Owen

Be extremely wary of anything that doesn't look or feel right. Steer clear of automatics

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

A Laguna estate should be cheap to buy and reasonable to service, fuel and insure. But, unscheduled repair bills are the problem and, considering the car’s poor reliability record, they could hit your wallet hard.

Prices are low, but you may need to move quickly when spot a likely buy. Good cars with service history and few previous owners change hands quickly, and diesels are in the biggest demand.

Servicing is cheap and simple enough for a local garage to do what’s needed, but prices for spare parts are a mixed bag and some repair jobs are complex, so it's quite possible you’ll get hit for hefty labour charges.

Most models fall within insurance groups 9 or 10 - which is sensible - but the 2.0 16v Sport climbs to group 14, making it costly. Economy, too, looks pretty good. The 1.9 turbodiesels promise an exceptional 48mpg across a mix of journeys, while the 1.6 petrol achieves up to 36mpg and the 1.8 35mpg. The 2.0 auto is thirstiest, returning up to 30mpg.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Near impossible to find a mint one. High maintenance costs after 72k cam service

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Renaults score low marks in the What Car? Reliability Index and the Laguna shows why. While its engines and running gear last well if looked after, the list of annoying and expensive problems grows as it gets older.

Immobiliser and alternator faults are common, while the heating system can rust and leak into the footwells - which is time-consuming and expensive to put right. If air-con is fitted, check that it blows cold and that the system is leak-free.

Check all the warning lights work, too, because replacing blown dash bulbs is tricky and many owners don’t bother.

Auto and manual gearboxes need a rebuild at any time after 60,000 miles, although some soldier on for years without needing work. Power steering systems are also likely to leak.

Finally, tailgate locks can break and the cable operating the bonnet release can seize or snap.

Trade view

John Owen

Be extremely wary of anything that doesn't look or feel right. Steer clear of automatics

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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