10 Jul 2009

Let’s go cruising: Renault Laguna Coupé

The Aston Martin you can afford!

Make: Renault

Model: Laguna Coupe

Release Date: May 2009

Price: S$135,999

I would be surprise if I am the only one to feel that the current crop of Renault cars are too bland, especially dangerous in tricky times as such. The French manufacturer was riding on a wave of introducing avant-garde cars to the mass mainstream. The step-back is frankly going to cost the French manufacturer big time.

Almost unexpectedly, Renault turns up the style-o-meter to bring us the Laguna Coupe to remind us of what they are capable of. A sleek-looking coupe with hints of Aston Martin around the nose and tail: giving the common people an opportunity to own something this gorgeous?
Renault has worked hard to differentiate the coupe from the family hatch it is based on. The Coupe comes with a bespoken architecture – shorter wheelbase and wider tracks and unique sheetmetal. Throw in that bold grille, gunslit taillights and muscular shoulder lines that flows uninterrupted: the end result is spectacular. 
The Coupe design was penned in right from the start to be the halo model in the Laguna line-up. Unfortunately, that means having to hang on to the Laguna name. Would the Coupe be a stronger sales proposition as a stand-alone model? Ala how Audi has differentiated its A4 and A5.

Who know? But we are certain that the Renault Laguna Coupe makes the disastrous Peugeot 407 coupe look even uglier and even the BMW 3-series Coupe looked like a mess at best.

Unlike the exterior, the interior of the Laguna Coupe is pretty much identical to it's more 'humble' sibling. Which is not so much of a bad thing nowadays: very much a quality item except for some switches that borders on plasticky.

The ‘Natural Biege’ leather seats on the press car certainly brighten up the otherwise dark toned interior. Note, the Arkamys audio system is just not the usual audio feast one would have come to expect from a setup with a “brand”.

If you are not subscribed to the BMW/Audi ideology of hard suspension settings and aggressive acceleration, the Renault Laguna Coupe might just be the car for you. While there’s plenty of grip and the steering is set up to give very sharp initial turn-ins, the Laguna Coupe is just too pre-occupied with cocooning the driver and occupants from the real world.

That being said, there is actually a slight improvement in handling stakes over the regular Laguna as Renault claims that by losing two doors, the Laguna Coupé is 25 per cent stiffer.

In a cohesive manner with the soothing driving manners, the engine is a pretty laidback unit as well. The 2.0 litre turbocharged engine is rated at 170 horsepower and comes mated with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Acceleration from rest to 100km/h takes a leisurely 9.2 seconds. These numbers do not exactly make a sports car but the whole Laguna Coupe experience is about cruising and wafting in comfort, so get along with the programme already! 

Priced at S$135,999 with real space for four adults, the Laguna Coupe is a credible alternative to the usual German coupes of such genre. While it might lack the badge, pace or handling finesse of some rivals, it certainly has the looks. Afterall, looks is what matters most in this segment.

Engine 1,998 cc turbocharged in-line 4
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Wheels Driven front
Max. Power 170 bhp @ 5000rpm
Max. Torque 270 Nm @ 3250rpm
0-100 km/h 9.2 secs
Top speed 220 km/h
Fuel Economy 8.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions N.A
Dimensions (L x W x H) / Weight 4643mm X 2082mm X 1398mm / 1,480kg
Price with COE* S$135,999