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Have you ever tried an Initiale?


The spec, the price, economical and practical

Boot a little limited, lack of feel, nondescript looks

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Value for Money

Road Handling



Fuel consumption


5 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (14%):
  1. mrsmopples
very helpful by (86%):
  1. Soho_Black
  3. liz1102
and 3 other members

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Five months ago my S Reg Laguna RT was getting a little tired and I decided to look for something newer. I prefer to purchase outright and I had a maximum budget of £7,000.

I looked on the net and local car supermarkets at a large number of cars, and had a number of choices. I was hoping to try to get as many of the following as possible -
An 03 plate or newer
As good a specification as possible
A reasonable looking car
A car that could take five people with space for shopping/luggage
An economical car with at least 40mpg

After looking at a lot of different cars including the Toyota Avensis, Peugeot 406/407, Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Vectra, Renault Laguna and others.
I finally whittled it down to just the Laguna and Mondeo, though the Mondeo had some advantages, it is definitely a dull looking car, unless you can afford the ST24 - and I couldn't, as well as the fact there are so many for sale. So when I had decided on the Laguna I checked out all of the different models in the range, and settled on the Initiale - Why? Because the spec was absolutely amazing.
The spec for the Initiale is -
Carminat Satellite Navigation
Xenon Lights
Front and Rear Fog Lights
Cruise control
Traction Control
Electric Sunroof
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (Front and rear)
Keycode entry/engine start system
Multi cd player
Dual zone Air Con
17 inch alloys as standard
Tyre Pressure sensors
Trip Computer
Full Leather Interior
Multiple 12v points (3)
Multiple airbags
Seat Belt Pretensioners
Electric memory/heated front seats
High level rear brake light

The Initiale is the highest spec Laguna, and is quite rare to find (There is the slightly higher GT spec car, but this is mega rare, and due to a more powerful engine is in a higher insurance group and has poorer fuel efficiency). After some searching, I found an 03 plate car in mint condition with only 43K on the clock for £7,000 at a local dealer. I took the obligatory test drive and traded my old car in (Got a good price too!).
From the outside you can't tell this is a different model to the rest of the range, as there are no badges, though the small GPS fitment on the roof and the larger 17 inch alloys are the only giveaways.

The outer styling on the car is quite pleasing though definitely a little nondescript (I have had to search twice on large car parks already!). It does look quite squat and aggressive, and though I tried to get a metallic black car, even the silver version I have is attractive, though I think this is subjective, especially when you compare it to some other models in the mid range area.

Clearly a lot of time went into the development of the interior and it is light years ahead of the old model. First, it seems to be far bigger inside, with plenty of room inside, and can take five adults quite comfortably. Whether it is the seats or the height there is definitely more headroom in front and back so this is also a major plus point.
Up front the seats are comfortable, if a little too soft for my taste, though you do have a large arm rest. Inside the arm rest is one of the three 12v power points, and plenty of storage space. We tested it and it can take 8 cans of pop, so it is very practical. Behind the front visors you have mirrors and courtesy lights - a nice touch. You also have a cup holder in the centre front console - quite handy. For some reason you have three interior lights for map reading, why three I thought when I first noticed, and I still have no idea (Perhaps in the unlikely event you need to read three separate maps at once!)
The dash/console layout is well sorted, though it has a pull done/flip front arrangement for the CD/Sat Nav area and this can be quite annoying . I Doesn't always lock or open first time, so I prefer to leave it open.
Another nice touch in the Initiale is the rear window lock button , situated by the electric window controls. This I have found on several occasions to be very useful, when the kids start playing with the switches in the rear.
In the rear you have pull down sun blinds on each side as well as a further 12v power point (For a DVD player, PSP etc). You also have a pull down armrest/storage area, that has a cup holder.

The Sat Nav, is a Carminat system. The system comes on automatically when you start the engine. It is very easy to use, though time consuming as you need to enter the town and street name for each new destination. So far after using it quite a few times I haven't had any problems with the routes, though if the final destination is on a street you don't know or a long street it can take time to find the exact location - a problem you don't have with a system that uses post codes. If you needed to use Sat Nav on a regular basis, then I think other systems will be quicker and more practical.
The Cd/Radio is a real treat (Well the CD is, not the Radio). You can load up to 6 CD's into the front Player, and the sound quality is as good as most. However, as the car doesn't have a standard aerial, the radio signal is not always picked up as well as it should, resulting in some 'crackling' when in poorer signal areas.
The Trip Computer is superb. This is accessed with a button on the end of the wiper stalk. Each press takes you though overall mileage, overall mileage/time to next service, trip mileage, miles per gallon/consumption, maximum distance on current fuel, distance since last fill up, average speed and finally cruise control speed (If accessed). This is very handy, easy to use, and very practical for long journeys.
The rear parking sensors come in quite handy, and you get the standard intermittent beeps up to 10 centimetres away. Good for inexperienced drivers though many will not need it.

To start the car you put the key card in the slot and press a Start/Stop button. As the engine starts the Tyre Pressures and Oil are checked, and this is briefly shown on the display. The engine is not as quiet as you might expect, and is certainly noisier than I expected, though at speed it is not excessive.
The 1.9 and 2.2 DCI cars are Turbo Diesel and suffer quite badly with Turbo Lag. This is especially noticeable in 2nd and 3rd, when it takes around two seconds before you get the acceleration you wanted - two seconds ago!. This means a little more care is needed for some driving such as busy islands, motorway driving etc.
The suspension is very soft, indeed it feels like I am driving my sofa it is so soft. Great for long distances but it means you have practically no 'feel' for the car on the road. This I feel it perhaps the biggest weakness in the car, and does mar the driving experience to some extent. However, I am a major fan of motor racing, and take the car to a wide range of venues/locations some are little more than dirt tracks and fields, and the suspension copes well in this environment.
The engine is a 1.9 120 hp common rail diesel. I have checked over a few trips and have returned 32 miles per gallon for around town, and between 48-50 for distance/motorway. I can be a little right foot happy, so take this into account. However, the car does fell quite nippy for a diesel, and it cruised very comfortably at 90 when I was late for an appointment and the motorway was clear.
The manual says it tops out at 125 (90 is my limit!), and it stated a 0-60 on 10.5 seconds, though I haven't tried, I sense these figures would be quite achievable.
For some reason the car has six forward gears ?? Is this a lorry or a supercar, why so many? From what I can tell the 6th forward gear is for distance cruising at low revs=even better fuel consumption, though I have to admit I thought this was what 5th was for (When I first noticed it I thought of the guitarist in the Spinal Tap movie with an amp going up to volume level 11).

The following is a direct quote from Parkers - Laguna was the first ever car to receive five stars for passenger safety in the Euro NCAP tests. The standard list of safety features is impressive, including airbags throughout the cabin, ABS with brake assist, power steering and five three-point seatbelts with pretensioners. Security is fully kitted out as well - with deadlocks, an electric steering lock, an immobiliser, keyless entry and remote central locking - so safety and security is undoubtedly Laguna's strong point.

One thing that worried me a lot before purchasing was reliability. I have had two Laguna's before and have had no major problems , and I know others who have had similar experience, yet the Laguna has had a lot of problems with reliability from many owners.
So far after three months I have had no problems, but lets face it almost any car can have problems.

Overall I would highly recommend the Laguna, especially the Initiale, it is without doubt one of the best value mid range cars available.
A new 1.9 DCI Initiale is quoted at over 20K. Taking depreciation into account, a saving of over 13K on a low mileage diesel seems a smart move.

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Comments about this review »

RICHADA 04.12.2006 00:19

You bagged a great bargain there - like me choosing the top of the range version if possible - second hand they are the best bargain of the lot. I happen to think that the Laguna is probably the best looking five door hatch, although you pay for it a little in the slightly cramped rear (head space). Yes indeed - a very good car review. Richard.

mrsmopples 03.12.2006 16:04

I think you got most of it covered here, so giving you an E. Happy and safe driving for the future.

LegendaryMrDude 03.12.2006 10:17

A good review - some more info on front and rear passenger space and how accommodating the boot is would be useful. Sam.

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Manufacturer's product description

Renault present the Laguna Dynamique 1.9 dCi 120 Hatchback with 6 Speed Manual Gearbox, Front (FWD) running on Dies...

Product details

Body Type Hatchback
Fuel Type Diesel
Available Trims Dynamique; Expression; Privilege; Initiale; Extreme


Listed on Ciao since 04/03/2002

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This review of Renault Laguna 1.9 dCi has been rated:

"exceptional" by (14%):

  1. mrsmopples

"very helpful" by (86%):

  1. Soho_Black
  3. liz1102

and 3 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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