Renault Laguna Coupe (2009 - 2012) review

By Andy Enright

Introduction

It's wholly unscientific but nevertheless throws up some interesting numbers. If you've got five minutes, fire up the Auto Trader website, limit the search to cars built since 2008 and compare the numbers you get back from the medium range coupe category. You'll find plenty of Sciroccos, quite a few 370Zs and Caymans, but only a few Renault Laguna Coupes. Rather worryingly for Renault, the paltry sales of the coupe were virtually matched by those of the Laguna hatch but that's another story. If you value an element of exclusivity, the Laguna coupe might well pique your interest. But isn't exclusivity just a weaselly way of pitching unpopularity? In effect, yes, but it's worth remembering that some cars make much smarter used buys than new and we suspect that the Renault Laguna Coupe matches that description to the letter. So pay attention, don't turn the page and learn a bit about this rather interesting contender.

Models

2dr coupe (2.0 petrol, 1.5, 2.0 diesel [Expression, Dynamique, TomTom Edition, Initiale])

History

Despite that build up, we're not suggesting the sleek Renault is a dynamic competitor for sporty models like the Nissan 370Z or the Volkswagen Scirocco. It's a more laid back thing that campaigns in a corner of the market that has largely been abandoned by most manufacturers. Down the years, we've seen GT coupes like the Subaru SVX, the Mazda MX-6, the Honda Accord Coupe and the Peugeot 407 Coupe all fall rather flat, their lack of a premium badge not helping their cause. By contrast, the likes of the Audi A5, Mercedes CLK and BMW 3 Series Coupe have done just fine. Our first glimpse of what would become the Laguna Coupe was back in September 2007 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The prototype on display looked a little more production-feasible than most typical show cars and the real thing appeared at the My 2008 Cannes Film Festival, which isn't one of the normal spots on the motoring calendar to unveil a car but which suggested a certain old-school glamour. Most hacks and public had to wait until October 2008 and the Paris Motor Show to get their grubby hands on the Laguna Coupe and it wasn't until January 2009 that the car started to arrive in UK showrooms. Where the rest of the Laguna range was treated to fairly extensive revisions in 2010, the coupe continued unchanged, though the petrol engines were quietly removed from the range. Then in 2012 Renault broke out the red pen and deleted a whole series of slow-selling models completely from their UK line-up. This action included all Lagunas, the Modus, the Kangoo and the Espace amongst others. The lifespan of this pretty car was over.

What You Get

Compared to the Laguna hatchback, the three-door body of the Coupe model is 5cm shorter and 4cm lower. It's also a massively more rewarding car to look at. The long front overhang of the hatch is retained and from some angles, it makes the Coupe appear slightly ungainly but that's wholly subjective. Employing a classic coupe roof line that falls away to the rear, the Laguna is an elegant proposition. There may even be a hint of Aston Martin about the way the LED tail lights curve around the rear corners and the boot lid lifts to form a narrow lip spoiler. Inside, the impressive interior of the Laguna hatch is carried over with quality soft-touch materials and a neat control layout. The fascia itself is so soft you could lose your keys in it. Those sleek exterior lines are always going to force some compromises in terms of interior practicality but the Laguna Coupe does work as a four seater. Rear seat passengers can be accommodated in reasonable comfort although those over six feet tall may struggle with the headroom. The boot aperture is narrow so inserting large items could be an issue but the space inside is generous with a 423-litre capacity available. The levers mounted on either side of the boot interior drop the 60:40 split rear seats in one movement and raise the available load length from 1m to 1.8m. It's a choice of Dynamique or GT trim for Laguna Coupe buyers. The basic package gets you 18" alloy wheels, an advanced Arkamys 3D sound system, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, climate control and rear parking sensors. The GT models add the 4Control chassis, keyless entry and start, leather trim and an automatic parking brake. All the Laguna Coupe models get eight airbags, ESP, ASR traction control and CSV understeer control which go a long way to ensuring another polished Renault performance in the NCAP safety tests.

What You Pay

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What to Look For

The Laguna Coupe isn't a car that tends to be driven hard, nor will you find too many high-mileage examples out there, so it's likely to have led a fairly pampered existence. None of the diesel engines are massively stressed and there have been no issues to date with the usual costly items such as injectors or turbochargers. Check the electronic functions and make sure that you can get the relevant upgrades for the satnav mapping.

Replacement Parts

(approx. values for a 2011 Laguna coupe 2.0 dCi 150) You'll need to budget around £195 for a clutch assembly while front brake pads are around £65; it's around £45 for the rear set. An alternator should be close to £300 and a radiator around £195.

On the Road

When it first appeared, there was a huge selection of engines to choose from, including a 205bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit and a punchy 3.5-litre V6 petrol, good for 240bhp. These were soon ditched, leaving a trio of diesels to make up the Laguna Coupe range. The entry-level choice is Renault's 150bhp 2.0-litre dCi oil-burner but that same engine can also be ordered in 180bhp guise where it packs a hefty 400Nm maximum torque. The 235bhp 3.0-litre V6 dCi engine is a more rewarding and cost-effective choice with its 450Nm torque suiting the languid automatic transmission. The Laguna Coupe has a similar firmed suspension set-up to that of the sporty GT model from the standard Laguna range and although the car displays good body control and changes direction very smartly, it never feels seriously sporty. The ride quality is pretty good, however, while both engine and wind noise are extremely well-suppressed making the Laguna Coupe a great car to cover big distances in. All of the GT models in the Laguna Coupe range feature Renault's 4Control chassis with its four-wheel steering technology. This allows the rear wheels to pivot and assist those at the front when cornering. The intended result is increased precision in higher speed turns along with enhanced manoeuvrability at lower speeds and it does the trick. More feedback through the steering would be welcome but in general, the 4Control system makes the Laguna Coupe easy to place on the road and does much to inspire confidence through faster bends.

Overall

The Laguna Coupe wasn't Renault's finest hour but then sometimes the most interesting used buys stem from some of the most unsuccessful new cars. This is a charming and wholly likeable vehicle that was overpriced when new but now looks much more agreeable value for money. Of course, there will be many who still couldn't countenance paying the thick end of £10,000 for a rather laid-back Renault coupe, but to drive one is to love it. This Renault is a stress relieving tool par excellence and that has to be worth the price of admission alone. Hard chargers should look elsewhere but those who want something refined and elegant in the best French tradition will appreciate the Laguna Coupe's rather old school appeal.