Renault surprised us with the Renault Latitude. We thought the Renault Laguna was a handy mid-sizer and wondered why it needed to be replaced.
The answer is the Renault Latitude is a better all-rounder, represents much better value and comes with a V6 petrol engine as well as a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.
And Renault Australia has backed its newcomer with a standout five-year warranty for real peace-of-mind.
Does the luxuriously appointed Renault Latitude have what it takes to tackle the best of the mid-sizers? You bet it does.
Renault Latitude Overview
In the same way as Germany’s Volkswagen Group is flexing its muscles and brands globally for maximum diversification, the Renault-Nissan alliance is just as powerful and the all-new Renault Latitude is a perfect example.
Designed in France, the Renault Latitude shares some chassis architecture with the Nissan Maxima and is manufactured in Korea by Samsung (previously owned by Nissan but now owned by the alliance company). The automotive business is truly global and Renault boss Carlos Ghosn is one of the smartest cookies in the game so you can expect lots of great products as the French-Japanese conglomerate powers ahead.
In the meantime Renault Australia has replaced its quirky-but-nice French-sourced Laguna mid-sizer with the all-new Renault Latitude.
Car Showroom tested the range-topping Renault Latitude Luxe V6 petrol ($42,490 – same price for the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel). Entry to the Renault Latitude lineup starts at $36,990 (same for petrol and diesel).
Equipment levels in the Renault Latitude Luxe are impressive and include heated, massaging leather seats, Bose audio, reversing camera, Tom Tom satellite navigation plus a massive glass sunroof. And it’s this total value-for-money package which is the strongest attribute of the Renault Latitude and which underpins our opinion that the French newcomer commands consideration by savvy mid-size buyers.
Renault Latitude Engine
Renault Latitude employs a 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine from Nissan’s award-winning VQ family. With 133kW/235Nm, it doesn’t match the 202kW/339Nm of Honda Accord’s 3.5-litre V6, but is ahead in fuel economy (rated at 9.7l/100kms combined cycle).
Drive is to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
The advantage of leveraging the combined might of the Renault-Nissan alliance is clear with this engine – a lovely, responsive and silky-smooth V6 which has scored numerous ‘gongs’ from Ward’s ‘World’s Best Engines’ in North America.
In this segment, V6 engines are rare and significantly both the Honda Accord V6 and Volkswagen Passat V6 are quite a bit more expensive than the Renault Latitude.
Renault Latitude The Interior
Inside the Renault Latitude confirms its French design and value-for-money strengths with superb aesthetics, quality materials and all-round class. Leather is standard in both variants.
With height and lumbar adjustment for the seat and rake/reach adjustment for the leather-wrapped steering wheel, the Renault Latitude delivers a top-shelf, European style driving position and all of our testers gave a big green tick to the massage function.
Renault’s French designers also get the thumbs-up for the dashboard/instrumentation, which is clear, precise and features colourful red highlights for the graphics. To the left is the Tom Tom navigation screen (we like Tom Tom map designs) with speed limit reminders and the BOSE audio system (Arkamys sound for the base model).
However we must deduct some points for the rear seat in the Renault Latitude. While the Car Showroom juniors enjoyed the extra visibility of the raised position, several of our taller acquaintances were a tad tight in headroom.
On the plus side (and it’s a big plus for families with children) the Renault Latitude comes standard with shade blinds for the rear windows.
Luggage space is 477-litres and the rear seat split- folds 60:40 for load carrying versatility.
Smells – every car has them (good and bad). Renault Latitude comes standard with a Samsung Super Plasma air ioniser and fragrance diffuser. We put it to the test by purchasing a couple of ‘with-the-lots’ from our local pizza shop and when climbing aboard the next morning we think it worked.
Renault Latitude Exterior & Styling
That term ‘value-for-money’ springs to mind again when considering the looks of the Renault Latitude – the newcomer delivers a discernible on-road presence which leaves some pricier segment rivals looking bland. Must be something about French style.
Sure there is a whiff of Nissan Maxima about the Renault Latitude, but equally Nissan’s Japanese designers must gaze at the Latitude with some envy.
For starters there is the stylish front end with its large Renault logo, modern wraparound headlights, contemporary bonnet curves and just the right amount of chrome.
The side is equally European with a waistline crease adding substance sometimes lacking in non-European mid-size sedans.
And the rear is distinctly Renault with the Latitude highlighted by bold taillights and purposeful twin exhausts (V6). The Luxe version gains 18-inch alloy wheels and a bootlid spoiler for extra sportiness.
Renault Latitude On The Road
Our week in the Renault Latitude afforded the full range of our standard tests and the new French mid-sizer scored well.
Around town the nice response from the V6 engine and good all-round visibility meant for a relaxed weekday commute.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, the sporty ride and handling we noticed during the Renault Latitude media launch was again obvious. Steering response, chassis balance and refinement, while ultimately not quite as involving as the Germans (Passat and Mondeo) was clearly ahead of the rest.
Like all European cars, the Renault Latitude’s ride is quite firm – a trai appreciated by sporty drivers.
Renault Latitude Challenges
We were impressed by the Renault Latitude at the media launch driving one day around Byron Bay in Northern NSW. Now having spent a week going through our usual test routine our only minor criticism is the rear seat, which feels a tad short on headroom compared to the Ford Mondeo.
And over Melbourne’s tram/train track crossings and poorly maintained secondary roads, some suspension harshness was evident – but again the payback is handling precision at high speeds.
Renault Latitude Verdict
We were fans of the Renault Laguna but there’s no doubt the Renault Latitude is a much better value proposition and its more conservative styling will appeal to bigger numbers of buyers.
By any measure the Renault Latitude enters the market with all-round credentials which are impressive. Nice looks, a quality feel inside and nice driving dynamics demand consideration by buyers in this segment.
Where Renault Australia has been very clever is delivering the Renault Latitude at super-sharp prices and supported by that five-year warranty.
Renault Latitude The Competition
A bit like a footballer stepping up from Reserve Grade or The Seconds, no matter how good your game, there’s no hiding once you join the big league and that’s where the Renault Latitude finds itself – smack bang in the middle of the toughest segment in the market. But the Renault Latitude acquits itself well on the value-for-money proposition and with its silky-smooth V6 engine
For Car Showroom, Ford’s German-sourced Mondeo is the segment star but the picture has recently been complicated by the range-topping Mondeo Titanium specification (most directly comparable to the Renault Latitude Luxe) now only offered in turbo-diesel form. In this test we drove the petrol V6 Renault Latitude but the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel undercuts the Mondeo Titanium by $4,500.
Volkswagen’s Passat is a pearler, but you’ll need $55,000 for a petrol V6 Highline version.
From Japan, Honda’s Accord stands out ($49,990 for the V6 Luxury model compared to $42,490 for the Renault Latitude Luxe tested). Accord design is getting dated but there’s no denying its slick driving dynamics.