Fleet News

Renault embraces diesel revolution

RENAULT is planning to embrace the diesel revolution with a series of new engines, including plans to rival BMW by launching a sporty, high-speed diesel version of its mainstream fleet model, the Laguna. With up to 140bhp under its bonnet, the next-generation dCi Laguna will compete with the German company's new 320d saloon, which recently went on sale in Britain.

Thought to be two years away from production, the flagship car will be fitted with a six-speed transmission specially geared to promote relaxed long-distance cruising, it was revealed in Paris. 'Our idea is to put a more sporty edge to the Laguna and the latest development of our 1.9-litre turbodiesel motor has a sufficiently healthy output,' a spokesman told Fleet NewsNet at a workshop to highlight the French company's advanced powertrain technology.

But later, the senior engineer in charge of the dCi development project, admitted Renault development engineers were finding it 'increasingly difficult' to marry higher driving performance with laws which call for tighter control of diesel exhaust emissions. He said: 'Weight seems to be the critical issue in this class. We are finding it is possible to get cars like the Laguna to comply with the Euro 4 requirements if we reduce engine output by between 13bhp and 20bhp. This is not a satisfactory solution because we feel our customers are not likely to accept lower performance in order to comply with legislation. So the pressure is on to overcome this problem as soon as we can.'

In the run up to the 2005 deadline for Euro 4, Renault is working hard to achieve higher diesel standards with the imminent release of its 16-valve, 2.2-litre dCi motor. To debut in the Espace and due to reach the UK next spring, the new G9T unit offers up to 135bhp and 240lb-ft torque. The company will also upgrade the 1.9-litre, 110bhp dCi common rail engine, which is now being introduced in the Laguna.

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