RENAULT, a brand usually associated with small cars and big buses, is making rapid inroads in Australia with an expanded range of vehicles, including some long, luxurious lovelies with lots of charisma.
Longest and most luxurious of them is the Latitude, which has a longitude of just on 4.9m, about the same as a Commodore or a BMW 5 Series, and the panache to attract buyers looking at cars in the $35,000 to $45,000 bracket.
Indeed, the sexy sedan’s sales are up nearly 100 per cent on this time last year.
Latitudes come in 2.5litre V6 petrol and 2.0litre turbo-diesel form and in standard and Luxe (say it “looxe”) trim.
Prices are from $36,990 for the standard model and $42,490 for the Luxe version, in either petrol or diesel.
A big attraction is a new five-year, unlimited distance warranty plus five years of 24/7 roadside assistance.
Also new is the brand’s own financial services arm.
The Latitude has conventional good looks and is exceptionally well-equipped.
Standard fare includes integrated SatNav, an Arkamys 3D sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, smart card key, power adjustable and heated driver’s seat, rake and reach adjustable steering wheel, chilled glovebox and dual climate control.
The car rides on 17-inch alloys, has an automatic parking brake, rear window sunblinds, tinted windows, leather trim and a 60/40 split-fold back seat.
The Luxe has a Bose audio system, three-zone climate control, an air ioniser, power driver’s seat with massage function, 18-inch alloys and a vast panoramic electric glass sunroof.
There’s also a reversing camera and an electrochromatic mirror.
Owners don’t really need to open the bonnet.
All the info on essentials, like oil and coolant levels and even the tyre pressures, are available on the neat and conventional dashboard.
That’s all tres bien, but what about the ride?
It’s another plus.
Sprung on MacPherson struts with a multi-link system in the tail, the spacious sedan was a pleasure on the fast sweeping roads and freeways.
It’s a cruiser, easily gliding through the bends.
Comfort levels are high, there’s ample space for five and the boot, which holds a full-sized spare, is long and wide, with 477 litres of cargo accomodation.