We were very much attracted to the Latin shapes and curves of the new Laguna Coupé, which amply shows that Renaults can also be astonishingly beautiful. Of course we could not wait to lay our hands on one, which proved to be the 2 litre Diesel version, with ample power to match the aura of a timeless sportiness.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
A classic beauty…
The flowing lines of the Renault Laguna Coupé’s elegant and uncluttered design are pleasing indeed. They were actually first seen on the concept car t Fluence that was revealed at the Louis Vuitton Classic in England in 2004. See the photo below...
The actual lines of the production version are directly inherited from the Fluence concept car unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2007.
The fluent lines of the actual production version inherit the shapes of the Fluence concept car...
The Laguna Coupé, with a length of 4.64 metres and a width of 1.81 metres already a bigger car, has as the manufacturer puts it, “a frill-free styling which exudes upper-range refinement.” We personally find the car quite elegant in darker (blue) colors, which contrast better with the Latin grille design and let the car be more “Italianate”, but then again the show white color of our test car was pleasing indeed, and we photographed it with our faithful Nikon D40 in a yellow corn field, which in our opinion matched the car color quite well.
As is seen here clearly on the shapes of the concept car...
Down to detail…
As in our modern homes, special care has been taken with the design of its lights. The rear lights employ LEDs which give more freedom to designers and enable also a greater spread of light. They are broad and slim, and wrap over to the car's flanks to ensure a distinctive lighting signature that can be identified from a distance of up to 400 metres.
The standard bi-Xenon headlamps provide good visibility. A particularity of bi-Xenon technology is that the same unit performs both the dipped and main beam functions thanks to a switching masking shield. This means that only one bulb is required, which in turn calls for less, leaving a free hand to designers, and they did a good job, as the photos show.
Of course attention has been payed to aerodynamics, with a CdA of 0.66m², which has been achieved by optimizing the car’s superstructure (diffuser, lip spoiler, etc.), giving it also an entirely fared-in underbody and by using front wheel deflectors.
The sweeping elegance of the exterior is also found in the cabin, where the ‘suspended’ dashboard sweeps from door to door with no visual evidence of a link with the console, while the door trimming carries over to the dash to encompass the radio and navigation displays.
We regret a bit the typical Renault dials, while being quite elegant, do not discern themselves enough from the other (saloon) cars bearing the “losange”, but then again production cost restraints left the designers probably no other choice.
One drawback we found was the relative weakness of the door restraints. When parking on the slightly uphill driveway in front of our house, we found ourselves repeatedly blocked or kicked by the heavy doors, which failed to remain open while stepping out.
The 2.0 dCi: 180 frugal and docile horses
Modern Diesel engines never fail to astonish us, and this 180 hp (131kW) version of the 2 litre Diesel unit delivers its peak power with uncanny smoothness at a mere 3,750rpm, with a hefty torque of 400Nm available from 2,000rpm. Besides delivering truly superior performance, (0-100kph in 8.5 seconds), thanks to the massive torque and good responsiveness of the engine, the car is also quite frugal, with an average consumption (manufacturer’s figures) of a mere 6.5 litres/100 km(172g of CO2/km), which we did not even achieve during our test, which was admittedly mainly driven over summer autostradas and highways, respecting the speed limits. The engine noise remains very subdued, and vibrations are minimal, if any. The manufacturer quotes a top speed of 222 km/h, which is sufficient for a GT by any standards.
A drivers’ revelation: the 4Control chassis.
Even in the first few meters one is surprised by the extreme responiveness and agility of this bigger coupé, thanks to the 4Control chassis, jointly developed by Renault engineering in association with specialists from Renault Sport Technologies.
At slower speeds, the car feels as nimble as a small town car, and at higher speeds the steering precision and absence of body roll make the car a joy to drive along those winding roads.
For the more technical enthusiasts among us, I here cite the manufacturers’ explanation of its 4Control chassis.
The 4Control chassis with four-wheel steering electronically controls the vehicle's dynamics. Precise modelling of the vehicle’s dynamics permits the cornering line to be optimized permanently, taking both static data (vehicle speed, steering wheel angle, vehicle and engine type) and dynamic data (steering wheel movements, yaw) into account. A sensor on the steering column sends steering wheel angle information via the CAN network to the control unit which is positioned behind the rear axle. The control unit also inputs vehicle speed from the ESP/ABS unit and tracks steering wheel angle information to detect sharp steering wheel movements which are symptomatic of either a sporty driving style or an avoidance situation. All these parameters are analysed to determine the required rear-wheel turn angle, which is implemented by means of an electric actuator on the rear axle. The electric actuator pushes on the lever located at the centre of the axle. As with conventional front-wheel steering, this movement is transmitted symmetrically via steering-rods mounted on the hub carriers which turn the rear wheels via an articulation and a ball joint. Aisin, a Japanese equipment supplier known for its experience of four-wheel steering systems, supplies the control unit and electric actuator. We can only add that it is clever, and it actually works very well!
The airco has an automatic setting, but can also be set to suit your personal taste(s).
The audio controls can be controlled by a unit at the steering wheel column, and also the central “smart” knob” is a logical delight to use. The experience of the house is manifest here. For optimum audio performance, Renault has joined forces with the digital sound processing specialist Arkamys. This partnership has led to the development of the 3D Sound by Arkamys® system which is unique on the automotive market and poised to become the Renault core range's new audio benchmark. Arkamys' tailor-developed digital sound processing software incorporated in the radio enables the performance of the existing audio system to be optimized and delivers indeed a good quality sound.
The comfort of Renault Laguna Coupé’s driving environment is on a par with the saloon version. The leather seats of our test car are firm and provide good lateral support.
Compared with the saloon version, Renault Laguna Coupé has sportier, more enveloping seats.
The suspension ensures a remarkably comfortable ride thanks to extra development focused on further controlling vertical travel. The pressurized front dampers, bi-tube rear dampers and their respective calibration ensure smooth absorption of obstacles also at moderate speeds.
Acoustic performance is another key consideration when it comes to travelling comfort, and the Renault Renault Laguna Coupé delivers the same exceptionally quiet ride as the soloon, which is one of the quietest in its class. Engine noise, road noise and wind noise have all benefited from the careful attention paid in this area during Renault Laguna’s development.
Renault has even found some clever patented solutions here, like linking the top of the gearbox casing with the battery support, which enables the latter to serve as an acoustic damper.
Special care also went into the dashboard and the area at the base of the windscreen, with fins incorporated in the hollow sections.
The thermal comfort of the Laguna is also enhanced by an efficient airco system which has ‘soft’ and ‘fast’ settings in case you do not like the auto setting, which we preferred actually and used most of the time.
Our conclusion: a well-made coupé, with excellent performance, finish, comfort and economy. It is also roomy and very pleasing to look at from any angle. A very convincing car indeed, with the delightful handling truly standing out. We would like to lay our hands on one of the V6 engined versions, and maybe in a darker color, which would the car truly a modern classic…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The new Laguna Coupé proudly bears the marque emblem...
As a thoroughbred befits, a six speed manual is at the drivers' hand, but it is the 4 wheel steering chassis which steals the show...