Over the past twelve months or so I have become a regular visitor to, and an occasional contributor at Driven to Write. One of their founding editors has a theory that all modern Renaults have a built in life expectancy of a mere seven years. Just before they reach their 100th month they just become so much hassle to keep on the road you just give up and buy a new one on the hamster wheel they call PCP. Unquestionably there is more than a grain of truth to what I have christened “Herriott’s law”. I also have to admit that with a mere glimpse of a modern Renault on the road (an increasingly common and worrying sight) my heart sinks a little. When I see a Captur or
Kadjar (what ridiculous names) it drops like a stone. Is this really what French cars have come to? That said at least they’ll be gone soon enough.
Twice recently I have had the pleasure of seeing the Renault Laguna coupe. In the flesh. Flippin hell, it still looks good. Especially the rear three quarter view. On the second occasion (after duly picking my jaw up from the pavement) a thought crossed my mind. Why does no-one else like it? At least that’s what it seems like to me. A quick consultation with Professor Google seems to back up my original thoughts. There are a few owners on a couple of forums and most of the reviews said it was very nice but….. It’s very very feckin nice, full stop.
Many factors have led the medium sized saloon from in it’s heyday being the most important car in a manufacturer’s portfolio to now in 2016 being little more than an also ran. For nigh on 20 years Renault have sold the Laguna (over 3 increasingly disappointing generations) in this cut-throat D segment. You could hardly blame Renault for this industry wide change in direction but this vehicle was certainly no standard bearer for the family saloon. However, something very surprising happened in the Summer of 2008.
Photos emerged. Photos of a coupe based on this soggy saloon that were surely just a glint of fool’s gold. Could it really look that good in the flesh? They will definitely tone it down for production, won’t they? It did and they didn’t and boy am I glad. I thought the biscuit had been well and truly taken ten years earlier when their compatriots in Peugeot (with more than a little help from Pininfarina) turned the 406 saloon into the svelte thing of beauty that was it’s coupe kin. Renault were surely going to give it a run for it’s money. Except they didn’t. The bosses at Boulogne-Billancourt did everything possible to make this car unappealing. Reliability continued in the vein you would expect from a car with the Laguna moniker. The interior does not inspire the same awe as it’s beautiful shell (I think it came straight from the saloon). For the last two years of it’s life it was only available with a
steam diesel engine. Can you f***ing believe it? Apologies for the strong language but a diesel in this sleek beauty? Despite these extremely effective efforts at disincentivising sales I hope against hope that this car is the exception to Herriott’s law. It would be great to occasionally have your day brightened by crossing paths with this French gem. Not that I ever want to buy one you understand.
It got me thinking though. The Laguna probably turns more heads despite the 406 being the better looking car. There’s not much in it though. The 406 is also renowned for being expensive to keep on the road, yet it retains a much more loyal following. People don’t look at you strangely when you express how much you like how it looks either. If I had to choose of course I’d pick the 406 with the creamy V6. Wouldn’t I? The Laguna would be a constant little nagging thought though…. Would I be crazy to pick it?