FcW Favourites: Renault Laguna

Vehicle design is a fascinating thing. Especially when it comes to the topic of models ageing gracefully. 

Ever since the global financial crisis of 2007, vehicles from the 90s have been disappearing from the roads faster than you can say "Personal Contract Plan". Numerous Government and Dealership scrappage schemes have stripped the roads of nearly all of the vehicles from my childhood. And whilst some may bemoan that outcome, I think now is the perfect opportunity to go and buy your favourite 90's vehicle and embrace the fact that you're much less likely to see another one coming the other way. They seem to be appreciating too, these 90's motors.

However, as with every generation of vehicle design, some cars simply do not possess visual longevity, looking completely out of place amongst the more sophisticated and swollen modern vehicles on the roads today. An example (as much as I love 90s Fords) is the first generation Ford Mondeo, which in terms of design I think is looking exceptionally dated.

The original Renault Laguna however, I feel time has been very kind. A tidy example recently passed me on the way to work one morning and I couldn't help but notice how well proportioned it looked in comparison to today's bloated and samey designs. It looked bigger than I remember it too. I used to own a Laguna back in 2007 (my first car!) so it was great to see one still knocking around and in top condition!

A fully loaded RXE model.

If you were to dig out a handful of reviews from it's launch period, many journalists commented that the Laguna had a more conservative design compared to it's competitors. Perhaps this is key to a car aging like a fine wine? I certainly feel that the Laguna's styling has worn particularly well from the front/side profile and I especially love the wedge shaped profile that rises from the top of the headlamp assembly, straight through to the rear tailgate. That wedge shaped profile was particularly accentuated on the sport trim models with larger alloy wheels. I remember the huge gold multispoke rims fitted to the Laguna BTCC car and it sure looked the absolute business. 

 1999 Laguna BTCC car.

The interior was a lovely place to be as well. The first time I ever sat inside a Laguna was (strangely enough) at a local scrapyard. As I wandered through the rows of cars in various states of disrepair, I spotted a light green Laguna that looked in great condition, except for it's windscreen was missing. So curiously I went over and had a look. As I opened the passenger door and peered inside I was pleasantly surprised by light and spacious interior.

The front door panels were of the 'wrap around' style that flowed continuously into the dashboard, cocooning the occupants and making the car feel far more luxurious than any Peugeot, Vauxhall or Ford of the time. I also loved how the centre stack flowed smoothly from the top of the dashboard down into the centre console. And don't get me started on those seats...sitting down for the first time was sinking into a memory foam mattress. The Laguna had an interior that I really, really liked. A classic design and proof (in my opinion) that car interior design peaked in that decade.

Love the 'wrap-around' dashboard.

So all-in-all, Renault's big family hatchback offered a great combination of looks, interior design and comfort which all contribute to the original Laguna being, in my opinion, a very plush car indeed.  However, there is one more aspect that makes the car an absolute FcW Favourite...the range topping 3.0-litre V6 model.

The top tier V6 Laguna produced 194bhp and 267Nm torque, providing a 0-62 time of 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 146mph. When you consider that the V6 models were not marketed as a 'performance' variant yet still had enough pace to beat even the Mondeo ST200, it made the V6 Laguna a total and utter sleeper in it's day. The V6 model didn't even have visible exhaust pipes. A quick look at the below acceleration video shows that the V6 Laguna still packs a punch even today! It's just a shame that finding one for sale today is going to be very difficult.

Promotional shot from 1993.

I can't help feel that the Renault Laguna has largely been forgotten about by most, especially given that Renault axed the Laguna entirely from the UK market. I think it's a real shame especially as the 3rd generation Laguna is a significantly more reliable car than the notoriously problematic 2nd gen model. However, the influx of SUVs and the generally poor sales of the 3rd gen car could only mean one thing. No more Laguna.

However it won't be forgotten by me, and I'm sure others who truely appreciate cars also won't forget. Given that it was my very first car, it still holds some sentimental value.

Most definitely an FcW Favourite.


Tags: FentonsCarWorld, Car Styling, Hatchback, FcW Favourites, Renault Laguna, 3.0-litre V6 24V, Sleeper, First Car, Renault Laguna Coupe, BTCC, Laguna BTCC, Car Design, 90s Cars, Laguna 1, Laguna 2, Laguna 3, Renaultsport

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