Renault Laguna has

WHEN a buddy of mine heard on the grapevine that I had the new Renault Laguna on test, he was knocking at the door quicker than the ANC could send Julius off to the Chuck Norris School of Good Habits.

WHEN a buddy of mine heard on the grapevine that I had the new Renault Laguna on test, he was knocking at the door quicker than the ANC could send Julius off to the Chuck Norris School of Good Habits.

Now, apparently in solidarity with Juju, the entire ANC Youth League is headed for Simon's Town for a two-week "boot camp".

Learning to swim and do deep sea diving are just two of the tasks on the agenda.

The mind boggles!

As if the navy don't have enough problems, what with R2billion submarines sitting in dock because they can't figure out how to switch them on, they'll have Juju and his sidekick Floyd running around the area in speedos with divers' tanks strapped to their backs!

Now when my friend parked his 2006 Laguna next to the 2010 generation, his remark was slightly less than frank.

In fact, being a family newspaper I can't repeat his exact words, but it was along the lines of: "Gosh, it looks nothing like mine."

And, no, it doesn't.

It's like comparing Camilla Parker-Bowles with Angelina Jolie . a no-contest when it comes to whose slippers you want to find under your bed when waking up in the morning!

Renault have been on top of their game recently with some of their latest releases.

The Megane (both sedan and hatch) have come a long way, but this new Laguna breaks the mould in the style department.

Low, squat and with oodles of attitude, the Laguna definitely steps up to the plate and provides a pleasant alternative in luxury motoring to the more traditional brands.

Though the car is a two-door coupé, room in the back is pleasantly spacious and leather seats are the order of the day.

Now that the cosmetics are out of the way, let's look at the "meat" of the vehicle ... the engine.

With a 3,-litre powerplant it's got the bite of an angry pit bull terrier and the six-speed automatic transmission works a treat and changes are silky smooth.

In fact, its figures are mighty impressive ... 177kW of power and 330Nm of torque ensures you won't be found wanting in the power stakes and the vehicle has a claimed 0-100kmh of 7,4seconds and a top speed of 244kmh.

The drive, cornering and suspension complement each other nicely for a sporty driving experience that made me reluctant to give the car back to its rightful owners.

Going green, though, is not one of its strong features and round-town driving, or "urban cycle" as manufacturers like to call it, is a hefty 15 litres per 100km.

Mind you, what's that old saying about if you can afford half-a-million for a car, don't wimp about the cost of petrol!

Where the Laguna gave me a week of fun-filled driving, my friend had sleepless nights ever since setting eyes on this beauty.

His problem? How to afford that R499900 price tag!

Renault SA is confident about this latest offering. It says the Laguna will be positioned as an alternative to the Audi A5 and BMW 3 Series coupé.

With their car coming standard with all features, with no optional list, the folk at Renault view this as a big selling point.

At a meeting in Midrand the Renault SA team said the Laguna would be the defining car for the French manufacturer here.

The car maker said Laguna customers would be treated like kings and queens - from a dedicated roadside assistant line to getting a personal call from the managing director after delivery of the new car.

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