Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

Renault Laguna Sport Tourer performance isn’t particularly awe-inpiring. The petrol choice is limited to either a 140bhp 2.0-litre unit or a 170bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre, both of which are smooth enough but can lack low-down pulling power. The more powerful turbo is only available with an automatic gearbox which means it’s no quicker than the manual-only 140bhp but returns just 32mpg.

There are three diesel options and these tend to be the most popular choice. A new 1.5-litre dCi replaces the older 1.9-litre diesel, offering better fuel economy (57mpg) and similar performance. Those intending to lug heavy loads regularly would be sensible to opt for the 2.0 dCi, which comes in two power outputs – 130bhp and 150bhp. The more powerful unit is very impressive with good in-gear acceleration but still manages 46mpg.

Aside from the higher power petrol, all cars come with a six-speed manual gearbox, although the shift action is fairly sloppy and imprecise. GT models (from Spring 2008) are the range topping models. One’s a 2.0-litre diesel with 180bhp and the other is a 205bhp turbo-charged petrol. Both offer swift performance – the petrol manages 0-62mph in 8 seconds – though aren’t quite the out-and-out performance models that they are sold as.

The Laguna isn’t nimble or fun to drive, but it does feel settled at speed. Grip is adequate on tight turns but body control isn’t great and there’s too much movement in bends. The steering is very assisted too and lacks feel as a result. On uneven roads – especially when cornering – the steering can send vibrations through the column which is an unpleasant sensation.

Once applied, the automatic handbrake (standard on all but base-spec models) senses when the vehicle is pulling forwards and automatically releases. This is great for smooth queuing on slopes and prevents unintentional rolling. Hasty manoeuvres or tight car parks can be difficult, due to Laguna’s long body and large turning circle. Although this is no different from many similar-sized estates, the optional parking sensors can help avoid a costly prang.

GT models – from Spring 2008 – get four-wheel-steering for greater grip and a more enjoyable driving experience. Renault calls this system Active Drive – the rear wheels move up to three degrees when the car is being driven on twisty roads. Another benefit of the system is that it reduces the size of the turning circle – around town the Laguna GT can turn in the same space as a Clio.