First drive: Renault Laguna Coupe
* What's not to like? * Slender curves * Truckload of standard kit...
Whats not to like about the new Renault Laguna coupe? As elegant as an Audi A5, as powerful as a BMW 3 Series Coupe and, because its a Renault, its available at a bargain-bucket price.
Okay, so the last part might not be completely true, because at £21k for the entry-level 2.0-litre model, and £28k for a V6 range-topper, Renault is not exactly giving the Coupe away.
Granted, youll pay a lot more for a flash German fastback, but theres the rub: coupes are all about image, and so are their residual values and to be frank, a Renault badge doesnt scream premium.
So, the badge is a bit iffy, and the prices arent as tempting as they should be, but the cars slender curves are certainly hot enough to elicit a chorus of wolf whistles. Unfortunately, look inside and youre more likely to blow raspberries.
Harsh? Well, the dashboard is identical to the humble hatchback right down to the central-locking button, which retains a graphic showing four doors. Overall, though, (thanks to good quality plastics and some imaginative use of silver trim,) its a smart enough place to while a way the miles.
Theres enough leg- and elbowroom to carry four adults in comfort, even if the swooping roofline means rear headroom is not the best.
Boot space is reasonable, although the opening is a pretty shallow. There is, however, a lever located either side of the boot to flip the rear seats down in a flash, so its a simple exercise to boost luggage space.
The Coupe is pretty slick to drive, too, especially the four-wheel-steering V6 version we tested.
At low speeds, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the fronts, producing a tighter turning circle to make parking easier. At high speeds, the rear wheels follow the fronts in order to reduce body roll. The result is strong grip and very tidy handling.
Although the Coupe has softer suspension than the GT versions of the hatchback, there remains the suspicion that it may feel rather brittle on UK roads.
Theres certainly nothing inflexible about the new 235bhp V6 diesel engine, though. As well as punching like a mule, its smooth and refined enough that your passengers will never guess you fill up with the truckers.
Theres also a truckload of standard kit on all models, including automatic xenon headlights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, a pumping MP3-compliant stereo, and rear parking sensors. Being a Renault, the focus is also very much on safety, with eight airbags as standard, including front-seat bags to prevent you sliding forward in a crash.
Renault Laguna CoupeYou'll like the four-wheel drive and punchy diesel engine.
You won't be convinced the Renault badge can keep the residual values afloat.