ACCORDING TO a recent study, the average male driver travels an extra 276 miles every year as a result of being lost. Women will only persevere for 256 miles. The research by Sheila’s Wheels car insurance found that 12 percent of men refuse to ask a stranger for help at all, yet 74 percent of women have no hang-ups about asking for directions. This lost driver time could be costing as much as £2,000 in fuel in a lifetime.

All this getting lost malarkey could be avoided if you buy a car with sat-nav built in. Or, of course, you could just buy a cheap one and stick it to the windscreen, like most people do. However, if you do want a fuss-free sat-nav, and you’re after a decent sized family estate, then why not take a look at the Renault Laguna Sport Tourer TomTom 2.0 dci 150?

I had the flagship GT Line TomTom model on test recently, and I was pretty impressed with it. Renault’s provision of an integrated Carminat TomTom® satellite navigation system remains a core feature of the Laguna’s specification, made even more user friendly for the 2011 range with the addition of live traffic data analysis to help avoid hold-ups on programmed itineraries.

But what is the refreshed Laguna like? Well, the French car maker’s mile-muncher displays assertive new front-end styling that immediately distinguishes it from its predecessor. Under the skin, important changes have been made too, with revisions to the range of powertrains that deliver lower emissions and better fuel economy, without compromising on performance.

The 2011 version of the Laguna is offered in a simplified range structure with three comprehensively specified trim levels: Expression, Dynamique TomTom and, at the top-of-the-range, the GT Line TomTom. The choice of engines includes 150, 175 and 180hp versions of the 2.0 dCi unit and a 2.0 16V 140 petrol engine.

But is it attractive? Yes, much more so than before. In fact, the Laguna Sport Tourer is, undeniably, a good looking estate car. The steeply raked rear screen is pleasing to the eye and, in GT Line TomTom trim, the profile is almost sexy. Other exterior styling features include a sports grille, air intakes and pearl black mirror housings. Twin chrome tailpipes complete the picture, alongside 18 inch alloys, which have a dark, very appealing, Shadow Chrome finish.

Inside, it’s all very plush and well screwed together. Cabin detail touches include combination leather and alcantara upholstery, aluminium pedals, electrically adjustable heated front seats and a 10-speaker BOSE premium audio system. The dashboard design in particular accentuates the Laguna 2011’s top-of-the-range feel, the positioning of all the controls having been re-thought to deliver the best ergonomic solution for visibility and ease of use.

The seat design allows for good passenger comfort (so my wife tells me) with a high level of lateral support. It is also easy to find the ideal driving position, with a wide range of height adjustment and independent seat back angle adjustment. Rear seat passengers benefit from large headrests and more generous knee room, thanks to a slimmer front seatback design.

The load area in the Sport Tourer uses Renault’s ‘Super-fold’ system for quick and easy folding of the rear seats. A pull of a lever located on either side of tailgate aperture is all that is needed for the seats to fold automatically, leaving a perfectly flat load floor over two metres in length. For added convenience, four control levers are provided, two in the tailgate pillar and the other two on either side of the rear seats.

On the road, the Laguna is responsive and steering is quick and direct. The decent feedback at the wheel is down to variable hydraulic assistance, which automatically adjusts the level of assistance in line with vehicle speed. This makes low-speed manoeuvring easier, and gives firmer performance for safer and more precise steering at high speed.

A Renault might not be something badge snobs would consider, and, to be honest, the whole Laguna experience surprised me. I actually enjoyed my time with the car and, as a family man, I would gladly have one. The 2011 Laguna Sports Tourer is big enough for the kids, it’ll swallow all the shopping and it’s more than happy to effortlessly eat up the motorways miles. In fact I’d quite happily get ‘lost’ driving a new Laguna all day – the trouble is the wife would soon cotton on – it’s virtually impossible to pretend you don’t know where you are with the GT Line TomTom model.

 

PROS ‘N’ CONS

  •  Attractive
  • Spacious
  • Comfortable
  • Renault image X

 

FAST FACTS     

  • Max speed: 131 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 10.0 seconds
  • Combined mpg: 54.3
  • Engine: 1995cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 150 at 4000 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 251 at 2000 rpm
  • CO2: 136 g/km
  • Price: £23,605 On the road

Click here to read a published review (pdf format) of the Renault Laguna Sport Tourer –  Lincolnshire Life Magazine

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