Sunday, 25 May 2008

SMMT 08 – A tale of 2 Renaults

Two cars I was very keen to try at the SMMT test drive day were the Renault Laguna GT with Active Drive and the Clio Renaultsport 197 Cup. Having heard the rumours that Renault were going to be doing four-wheel steering and then seeing the press release confirming how they were going to do it I was eager to try it. With the Clio, I wanted to try a quick Renault hatchback.

Renault Laguna GT with active drive

The Laguna looks impressive and feels good to sit in but comes up short on the move. The first irritant is the steering wheel, which is annoyingly not round. The gear lever feels somewhat loose and floppy, which is how the whole car feels. Four wheel steering works every bit as well as expected but the rest of the car does not invite, encourage or reward hard driving. If the GT suffix usually denotes Grand Tourer the Laguna is rather too much Tourer and not Grand enough.

Renault Clio Renaultsport 197 Cup

If only the Laguna could enjoy the polish and fine tuning that made the Clio what it is – which is to say rather wonderful. True, you sit more on the car than in it and getting in and out of the deeply contoured Recaro requires considerable agility but it puts a smile on your face. Everything about the Clio 197 feels taught and positive, it positively begs to be driven hard and fast – with verve and enthusiasm. Although it feels too high that difficult to enter seat is superbly comfortable and holds you in place perfectly so you move with the car. Somehow this has been achieved without making the Cup unbearable on the motorway.

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