Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis tells us how to make running a car cheaper
Renault Laguna 1.5 dCi 110 TomTom review (2010 onwards)
Model: Renault Laguna 1.5 dCi 110 Dynamique TomTom
Bodystyle: Five-door hatch
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
What is it?
Launched in 2007, Renault's Laguna hasn't exactly set the D-segment alight despite improving considerably on its predecessor's dodgy reliability record and offering a distinctly Gallic alternative to the dominant Mondeos, Insignias and Passats.
Facelifted late in 2010, this revised Laguna includes visual tweaks comprising new, frowny headlights, a more aggressive looking bumper and grille combination and a refreshed, Euro 5 compliant engine range with significantly improved emissions and economy.
Where does it fit?
When the Laguna first launched the inclusion of a 1.5-litre diesel option was a big deal and an opening salvo in the downsizing war. A few years on the idea of such a small engine in a big car isn't quite as radical but Renault is to be applauded for taking a lead here.
And our 1.5 dCi 110 test car proves the worth of the concept, this car now available across the simplified line up that comprises Expression and Dynamique TomTom, the latter upgradeable with the Initiale Lux pack for an additional £2,100.
Mysteriously the really quirky and interesting Laguna in the range - the four-wheel steer GT model - seems to have temporarily dropped off the pricelist but seeing as over a third of Laguna hatches are 1.5 dCi models it appears this model has really struck a chord.
Even in this age of downsizing the Laguna's teeny 110hp diesel engine stands out as the teeniest in the sector, the new Peugeot 508 available with the omnipresent 1.6 HDi diesel with 112hp, both engines offering the same 177lb ft of torque.
Is it for you?
It's fair to say the Laguna goes its own way in styling terms. And while many rivals try and ape the German saloons they aspire to rival the big Renault ploughs its own furrow in terms of style and feel.
Whether that appeals or not is, of course, a personal choice but the Laguna's character is more easy going and less aggressive than, say, the Insignia with its pretensions to go chasing Audis and BMWs. Broadly speaking it's a generic D-segment hatch though.
What does it do well?
So we've established that it stands out from the crowd - mainly because you don't see many Lagunas around - and has its own way of doing things. And in the dCi 110's case that's mainly covering ground at a steady rate with little in the way of fuss and drama.
110hp in a car this size means languid progress is your only option but it never feels over stressed and it's a relaxing car to drive, the generally comfort oriented vibe masking surprisingly nimble handling.
The steering is crisp and the ride, though not shy of pitch and roll, is well damped and a very different proposition to the obsession with tied down and unyielding 'sports' suspension offered by many rivals. The engine is smooth and refined too.
The interior is also very clean and tidy, the low dash and slim pillars meaning better than average forward visibility. The integrated TomTom navigation included on Dynamique spec is a welcome feature too and a cost-effective route to built-in nav.
What doesn't it do well?
Many cars like this earn their keep blasting up and down the nation's motorways, racking up huge mileages and, stereotypically, run by unsympathetic fleet drivers. The leisurely pace of the 110 dCi might not suit this pattern though, 150 and 175 dCi 2.0 litre diesels perhaps the better option.
The TomTom nav system does the job and the operating system will be familiar to many drivers but there's no escaping the fact it feels a little clunky compared with the full factory integrated options offered by rivals, admittedly at considerable extra cost.
What's it like to live with?
Compared with the likes of the Mondeo and Insignia the Laguna feels a little tight on space, the Mondeo offering 540 litres of luggage space against the Renault's 450 and more with the seats down too.
The flipside of this is that the Laguna feels less overwhelmingly massive and intimidating around town and in tightly packed car parks. Though seemingly well-built the ergonomics aren't perfect though, especially the fiddly infotainment interface behind the gear lever.
How green is it?
When the 1.5-litre Laguna launched 136g/km was big news but rivals have been busy and the latest Passat Bluemotion - now a comparable 1.6-litre diesel - manages 114g/km and the Peugeot 508 e-HDI 109g/km. The facelift has brought the Laguna down to 120g/km.
Renault claims a combined average 60.1mpg and a range of 800 miles for the 110 dCi but we struggled to beat mid 40s in typical use. Fuel misers might get closer to that headline figure but you'll be going nowhere fast.
Would we buy it?
The Laguna faces some very tough competition in its sector and though distinctive and charismatic it's hard to pick out one feature that would make you choose it over any of its rivals. Good but not outstanding in other words.
With only one normally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol in the range it's effectively a choice of two diesels for most people too and though the 1.5 dCi is commendably frugal on paper we'd be willing to bet the less stressed 2.0 150 dCi would get closer to its official 54.3mpg average while still only emitting 136g/km.
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
We round up the finest new motors at the important Swiss motor show.
Date 07/03/14, Duration 3:37, Views 8625