Not immediately obvious? Well no. There have been a few cosmetic tweaks outside, but nothing that jumps out at you. The main differences are the new headlights and front grille treatment.
However, this range-topping Initiale specification model is the first Laguna to feature the new 2.0-litre dCi turbodiesel engine, developed between Renault and Nissan. Variants of the new unit will appear in other future Renaults.
This engine offers 150bhp and 250ft-lb of torque. Put your foot down and you get smooth and rapid acceleration, reaching 62mph in 8.9 seconds. Power is available through most of the rev range in any gear, such is the flexible nature of the engine.
It is also remarkably refined, with little engine noise making its way into the cabin. However, such a refined dose of power makes for an entirely undramatic drive.
The handling, too, could hardly be described as sporty. The ride is comfortable enough, but do any more than loaf into a corner and the car wallows and feels heavy. The steering is uninformative, with road surface information reaching the steering wheel through what feels like custard.
The gearbox is uninspiring, with a very long throw that makes a series of changes reminiscent of stirring a bowl of porridge.
But this Initiale model majors on comfort rather than sportiness, the latter being the job of the new GT trim level.
The interior is not overly offensive, but the wood inserts running across the dash and on the steering wheel are not to my taste. However, the general aesthetics are pleasing enough, with a sweeping dash housing a navigation screen that looks as though it should fold down, but doesn’t.
The screen is part of the Carminat 3D Navigation and Communication Centre, housing an in-dash six CD changer, satellite navigation and Bluetooth hands-free phone. The sat-nav features detailed photo-like pictures of approaching road signs that are of some help.
However, the screen is too small to make out map details clearly, and at night the far-too-thin road lines are easily confused with the grid lines of the map.
The leather seats are electrically adjustable, but don’t allow tinkering with the lumbar support as far as I could tell. After a four-hour journey I had backache. Neither are the seats particularly supportive.
However, there’s lots of room in the back and a nice big boot. Build quality is improved over previous generation Lagunas, and now matches the sector standard.
So there’s nothing dramatically wrong with the Laguna, but it fails to inspire and, at almost £23,000, is very expensive for the sector.
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £22,877
CO2 emissions (g/km): 154
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 20%
Graduated VED rate: £135
Insurance group: 11
Combined mpg: 48.7
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,374/23%
Depreciation 29.17 pence per mile x 60,000: £17,502
Maintenance 2.45 pence per mile x 60,000: £1,470
Fuel 8.82 pence per mile x 60,000: £5,292
Wholelife cost 40.44 pence per mile x 60,000: £24,264
Typical contract hire rate: £453
Rental quote from HSBC Vehicle Finance
At a glance
We don’t like
Three rivals to consider
The Laguna is the most expensive. While the equipment list is decent, with leather and satellite navigation, 17-inch alloys are an option. The Mondeo is the most powerful car with 155bhp. It also comes with leather and 18-inch alloys, but sat-nav is a £1,000 option. The Vectra in Elite trim has sat-nav and 17-inch alloys. The Avensis is the cheapest and has leather as standard, but sat-nav is a £750 option.
Over three years and 60,000 miles, the Renault is likely to be the cheapest to service and maintain, with a likely cost of £1,470. Not too far behind is the Avensis, with bills likely to be £1,548. The Vectra follows closely at £1,596, and the Mondeo emerges as the most expensive by a margin, facing invoices for £1,746. These figures are the projected cost of keeping a car in good repair and include all scheduled services, parts, VED renewals and anticipated tyre costs over the period.
The Laguna claws back some value for money by being the most economical, with Renault claiming a combined economy figure of 48.7mpg. This translates into a likely diesel bill of £5,292 over three years and 60,000 miles. Both the Vectra and Avensis burn similar amounts of fuel (48.7 and 47.9mpg respectively), totalling £5,376 and £5,382. The Mondeo, being the most powerful car in the line-up, pays the penalty with fuel costs of £5,562, more than £250 up on the Renault Laguna. But remember – manufacturers’ claimed fuel economy figures should be treated with caution.
The Avensis comes out on top by a considerable margin here and is expected to retain 32% of its value – a loss of £14,070 – after three years and 60,000 miles. The others are some way behind thanks to their much higher front-end prices, but the Mondeo leads them with an RV of 25%, losing £16,200 over the same period. The Vectra will retain 22%, losing £17,118, while the Renault will cling on to 23%. Although its RV is higher, it loses more in real terms (£17,502).
The Avensis is the runaway winner in the running costs race, costing £20,994 over three years and 60,000 miles. The main ingredient in its victory is its advantage in depreciation terms thanks to its much lower front-end price. The Mondeo is second, costing £23,508, while the Vectra and Laguna are more expensive, each costing more than 40ppm to run. The Vauxhall will cost £24,090 and the Renault £24,264.
Emissions and BIK tax rates
The Laguna stages a late comeback by emitting the least carbon dioxide. As a result, it is the cheapest in tax percentage terms, but placed only second in real terms. A 40% taxpayer can expect to pay £152 a month in company car tax for the Renault. The Avensis is in a higher tax band, but is cheaper to buy than the Laguna and as a result it will cost the same driver £145.The Vectra will cost £153 a month, while the Mondeo is the most expensive at £158.
The Toyota Avensis is the cheapest car to buy and the cheapest to run. It is also costs the least in company car tax. The Renault Laguna is the most expensive to buy and holds its value badly, while the Ford Mondeo is too thirsty and costs the most to maintain and tax. The Vauxhall Vectra scores in the middle on all categories and is well-equipped with leather and satellite navigation as standard, but cannot compete with the Toyota on costs.