The manufacturer has kept up that marketing pace throughout the car's career, and continued to drive its running costs down, but what it lacked was engines to match that top-notch chassis in terms of refinement and economy. It's got them now - 1.6-litre and 1.8-litre 16-valve petrol engines to replace the tired old eight-valve units - along with tweaks to equipment and styling.
The 1.6-litre engine arrived in the first half of last year, bringing with it the triple whammy of 110bhp (similar to most 1.8s), a 13% reduction in fuel consumption (much needed) and a 12% drop in carbon dioxide gases compared with the eight-valve 1.8-litre 95bhp engine it replaced. But the subject of this test report is the new 1.8, which is set to become the fleet meat of the Laguna range, and the fuel for Renault's drive to achieve a market share percentage in double figures within the next year or so.
The 115bhp eight-valve 2.0-litre engine has gone from the hatchbacks and estates in RT and RXE trim (well, almost - it's running out with automatic transmission models), and is replaced by a 1,783cc, 16-valve F4P fitted with the entire top end from the 1.6 16v. Compared with the 2.0-litre unit, the 1.8 provides 4% extra power at 120bhp, economy improves by 12% in the combined cycle, and greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions fall by 10% from 207g/km to 186g/km. Maximum torque of 122lb-ft is at 3,500rpm, but 90% of that is available from 2,000rpm to 5,750rpm, making the engine one of the most flexible in its class.
The two other petrol engines in the range are a 2.0-litre 16-valve, 140bhp unit with revised gear ratios to improve economy, and a 3.0-litre V6 24-valve, 194bhp engine, a version of which is soon to be shoehorned into the Clio. The diesel available with RN entry trim and in RT and RT Sport is a direct injection 100bhp 1.9-litre turbo. A 115bhp 2.2dT is offered at Executive level.