A Laguna Coupé ought to be both a rare and welcome sighting. But it doesn’t do to look too closely.
The Renault Laguna, especially in its third and final iteration was a popular car in Ireland. Not popular in Passat or Avensis terms, but sold in quite respectable numbers nonetheless, notwithstanding Irish motorists’ long-standing distrust of the larger offerings from our esteemed French neighbours.
This was all the more surprising really, given the frightful reputation its immediate predecessor earned over its lifespan – riddled as it was by electronic gremlins which cost the carmaker dear, both in market share and in warranty costs. But then, Renault’s Irish importers were (perhaps through grim necessity) somewhat generous when it came to sales incentives.
Unlike the handsome second generation model however, the third iteration Laguna was no ravishing beauty, although in its defence, and with the benefit of more than a decade’s reflection, it wasn’t really all that bad. At the time however, it did appear as though both ends of the car were styled by competing teams – in separate isolation chambers.
Longer and wider than the outgoing car, yet the Laguna III looked smaller, less substantial and perhaps, a little wilfully ‘Gallic‘. One struggles to discern the hand of Patrick le Quément in its creation, although he was still nominally in overall charge when it was created.
Whatever the background to the Laguna III’s gestation however, there was one relatively bright spot amidst the visual discord – the 2008 Laguna Coupé, Renault’s first large (ish) saloon-based GT since the cancellation of the Fuego in 1984. And it is this to which I would direct your attention today.
Firstly, I should apologise for both the quality and setting of the single photograph, taken back in April amidst the height of the pandemic-related restrictions (our tourist-town locale was eerily quiet at the time), but with two dogs in tow, both with wildly differing views as to where their noses ought to be pressed, getting even this singular image (in focus) proved something of an achievement.
The Laguna Coupé was a rare car in any context, but in the Irish one, it really does fall into the unicorn category. Certainly, by the tail end of the noughties, coupé man, and in this case, Irish coupé-man was a dying breed – certainly amongst those who were not purchasing something with a three pointed star, four rings of Ingolstadt or Munich roundel on its nose instead.
It takes a certain commitment, a devil-may-care nonchalance to take the sort of fiscal hit a car like this would entail, but I applaud its owner, not only for his taste (for it is broadly speaking, a handsome looking machine), but also for the (anti?)statement he is undoubtedly making.
However, there is one fly in the ointment, well two if you include the frontal aspect, which not only aped that of the saloon, but shared its visual gawkiness. What I allude to, (and for those of you who are horrified by shutline crimes, I would suggest you look away now), is the awkward confluence of bootlid, rear three quarter light and the rather poorly finished bright strip which surrounds it. The obvious join between the upper and lower brightwork may have been necessary (although it screams beancounters), but the positioning of the boot shutlines in relation really does jump out at one.
I’m certain there is a plausible production engineering rationale as why this had to be as is, but once seen, it’s terribly difficult to ignore. Of course I realise every car that enters large scale production is a series of workarounds and cost-related expediencies – this particular instance being just one of the more obvious examples. Sometimes, it’s best not to look too closely.