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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The ride is comfortable and the interior is smart

Against It’s not as much fun to drive as a Mondeo

Verdict A comfortable tourer, but let down by patchy reliability

Go for… 2.2 turbodiesel

Avoid… 3.0-litre V6

Renault Laguna Hatchback
  • 1. Axle and suspension problems are the most common complaint
  • 2. Coolant system can be iffy, so take a long test drive to watch for signs of overheating
  • 3. Petrol models seem to be quite hard on gearboxes. Ensure all gears, including reverse, engage smoothly
  • 4. The hatchback has an impressively big boot, making it a practical family car
  • 5. Water pumps on the diesels have a tendency to seize
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Renault Laguna Hatchback full review with expert trade views

If you’re after a car to set your pulse racing, then the Laguna probably isn’t for you. However, if you need a car that’ll chew up a long journey with the minimum of hassle, then it’s definitely worth a look.

It has a supple suspension that soaks up bumps with ease, while it contains wind and road noise better than most cars of this age and type. However, the smaller engines can be raucous if you work them hard, so choose carefully.

The cabin is smart and solid, and there’s space enough for five to travel in reasonable comfort. The seats are comfortable, and all but the basic RN model come with driver’s seat height adjustment. Visibility, too, is very good.

The hatchback also provides an impressively big boot, making it a practical family car.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Looking old now and only 1.9 Ti with a good Sport or RXE

James Ruppert
Used car guru

If you’re on a tight budget, we recommend the 1.8-litre 16v engine, which will give you 35.8mpg and decent performance. Beware though. Pre-1998 petrol cars have eight-valve engines, which are noticeably less punchy.

The 1.6 and 2.0 engines were also upgraded in 1998, but both the pre- and post-upgrade 1.6s feel weak. And, while the 2.0s are okay, the 16v is definitely the pick. You might be tempted by the powerful 3.0 V6 engine, but resist it - it simply doesn’t suit the car.

Alternatively, you can find two diesels. The 1.9 is frugal but sluggish, while the 2.2 TD is much more responsive, and you’ll still get around 40mpg. That's enough to make it our favourite engine from the range.

As for trim, second-rung RT trim is best - you’ll get all the essential creature comforts such as air-con, a sunroof, electric front windows and a CD player. RT Sport models add alloy wheels.

RXE models get climate control, alloy wheels, a CD changer and electric rear windows, while Executive models add an alarm and leather seats.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Transmission and cooling problems have always been a problem

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

All versions can be picked up for very little cash, even the posh ones with lots of toys.

Fuel economy figures are about what you’d expect for the class, although with most of the engines, you’ll have to fill up slightly more often than a Mondeo owner. The most frugal petrol engine, the 1.6, will give you 37.7mpg, while the leanest 1.9 diesel engine gives a very handy 51.4mpg. The 3.0 V6 is by far and away the worst, with 25.7mpg.

Lagunas are fairly cheap to insure. Groupings range from 7 for the 1.6 to 16 for the 3.0 V6. Both of our favourite engines, the 1.8 petrol and the 2.2 diesel, sit in a reasonable group 12.

Servicing costs are also on a par with what you’d pay for the equivalent Mondeo.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Looking old now and only 1.9 Ti with a good Sport or RXE

James Ruppert
Used car guru

There’s plenty that can go wrong on this generation of Laguna. And, Warranty Direct tell us that axle and suspension problems are the most common complaint.

The coolant system can also be iffy, so make sure your test drive is a long one to check for any signs of overheating. Water pumps on the diesels have a tendency to seize, too.

The petrol models seem to be quite hard on gearboxes, and they have been known to give up the ghost after around 70,000 miles. Make sure your chosen car shifts into all gears, including reverse, smoothly.

When looking at the service history, check that certain recall work has been carried out. Three were issued, one for cars made in 1994 for a possible lock-up of the transmission, and some cars made in 1995 suffered problems with an airbag warning light. Some 1996 cars also suffered from an overheating exhaust manifold.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Transmission and cooling problems have always been a problem

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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