Pardon my French

Renault Laguna Hatch 2.0 dCi Privelege

Sharing the same initials as a religious icon, Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame regards himself as a motoring messiah.

But as well as sprouting wisdom from the mount about cars and lorry drivers, he’s also just invented a new financial indicator which closely follows other economic indices. I’ve called it the Clarkson Factor.

Top Gear fans will recall that in 2007 he paid £88,000 for a new Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

In the first episode of Series 12 of Top Gear Jeremy laments that one year later his beautiful Aston Martin is now only worth £44,000 and the 50% depreciation is exactly the same amount that equities have dropped in the past year.

For the first time in history it may make more financial sense to buy a car with your super fund as the returns may be better than shares and at least you get to drive it.

Later in the show Jeremy crashes a Renault lorry into a brick wall whilst firing a salvo at the nation’s truck drivers.

And whilst Renaults have never enjoyed good re-sale values, it’s re-assuring to know that they are on a par with Aston Martins. You see a 2007 Renault Laguna will have also lost 50% of its value in the past 12 months.

But unlike shares, in the motoring marketplace there should be a relationship between how good a product is and how much it costs. After all nothing expensive would sell unless there was some value somewhere.

And when depreciation usually slices about 22% off the value of your car every year, it’s worth considering what someone else will pay for your vehicle when the time comes to trade it in.

My bet is that the 2008 Renault Laguna should hold its value better than last year’s model as it is much improved all round, particularly in terms of refinement and safety.

The 2008 model scored 36 out of a possible 37 points on the EuroNCAP with five stars overall.

It feels solid, and honestly it looked as well made as any other European car.

The cabin is comfortable and inviting and all the trim has a quality feel. There are nice touches like the blinds built into the rear doors to keep the sun off the children.

I road-tested the top spec Privilege model and I really liked the Xenon adaptive headlights, heated seats and the tyre pressure monitor on the dashboard.

I wasn’t sure why they put the cruise control switch on the centre console, but all the other controls were where you’d expect them to be.

There’s also an electronic hand-brake which automatically releases when you take off and for safety automatically applies itself when you park.

No more Inspector Clouseau scenes as the Renault won’t roll away on absent-minded drivers.

It’s a device which should be on every car and it makes hill starts a breeze.

But it is under the bonnet where the real action lies.

Gone is the 2.2 litre turbo-diesel replaced by a high tech 2 litre unit which is less thirsty whilst offering more power and torque. How do they do that?

Coupled to a six speed automatic the Laguna lacks nothing on paper and returns over 40 mpg on the highway.

After a week in the Laguna I was left liking it more and more.

It’s just a shame that a purchasing decision does have to take account of the lack of popularity of Renaults at trade-in time.

Safe motoring,
Dr Clive Fraser

For: Refined luxury, as good as any other European car.

Against: Re-sale.

This car would suit: Doctors without borders.

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    Medical Motoring is an online record of the articles written by Dr Clive Fraser and published in the Australian Medicine magazine by the Australian Medical Association.