The Renault Latitude was introduced to the Australian market in 2011 to compete against mid-size rivals like the Toyota Camry, Mazda 6, and Volkswagen Passat.
With a generous equipment list, competitive pricing and traditional three-box styling, the Latitude was designed as a conservative replacement for the unloved Laguna.
Model tested: 2011 Renault Latitude Luxe
Price when new: $42,490 (list price)
Engine: 2.5L V6, six-speed automatic
Power and torque: 133kW/235Nm
Quoted fuel consumption: 9.7L/100km combined
Real life consumption: 11.2L/100km combined
Renault Australia has long struggled to shift midsize passenger cars. The second generation Laguna only ever saw moderate success when it launched in the Aussie market in 2002, and that quickly tapered off. The third generation arrived in 2007 but failed to save the Laguna nameplate. In 2011, the Laguna bowed out and in came the Latitude – landing on our shores just a few months after being unveiled overseas.
Interior & Practicality: 8.0/10
While larger in every dimension, the Latitude’s proportions were clearly based off its donor car – the long front overhang, rising belting and stocky boot are all classic Laguna – but the design language showed a notable departure from their current crop of cars.
A high-mounted chrome grille was something you’d expect from German or Asian competitors and the rear end was understated but handsome. It also ditched the lift back bootlid in favour of a traditional sedan body style, favoured by the Korean domestic market the Latitude (née Renault-Samsung SM5) hails from.
Moving inside, while the dashboard was entirely new, a lot of the design and switchgear was carried over from the Laguna, giving the Latitude a decidedly more Euro flavour than its Korean sibling, the Koleos.
The materials were mostly what you’d expect from the class, but the build quality was lacking. The centre console creaks over bumps and during cornering, and the door’s grab handles feel flimsy. But where the Latitude wins back points is in passenger space – there’s a lot of it. My 193cm frame can comfortably sit being my driving position, with my hair only just bushing the roof lining thanks to that front-to-back panoramic sunroof.
Luckily, there’s enough room for my legs that I can slouch down and create more headroom.
Price & Specs: 8.0/10
The spec sheet was generous as the 2011 Renault Latitude was positioned as a premium offering. The Luxe model (renamed the Privilege in the facelift) includes rare-for-the-segment luxuries like a fragrance diffuser and massaging driver’s seat.
Other niceties included the aforementioned panoramic sunroof, 18” alloys, a proximity key, satellite navigation, tyre pressure monitoring, a 10-speaker Bose sound system, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, and leather upholstery.
Xenon headlights were a $1,490 option from launch but made standard equipment on Luxe/Privilege models from 2012.
Ride & Handling: 7.5/10
The driving experience is typical for a mid-sizer: the suspension setup favours comfort over handling prowess, but it’s a mostly positive experience. The steering is confidence inspiring thanks to the hydraulic setup (whereas the diesel had electric assistance), but get too carried away and you’ll find there’s a lot of body roll when pushed.
Interesting then is that Renault chose to equip the Latitude with quality Continental ContiSportContact 3 tyres from factory. A racer it is not, but the Latitude loves the open road. The suspension deals with most imperfections with aplomb. Even when riding on 18” alloys it makes for a relaxing cruiser.
Performance & Economy: 6.0/10
The Nissan-sourced 2.5 V6 petrol engine is somewhat at odds with the Latitude’s relaxed demeanour. Being naturally aspirated, it produces its peak 133kW/235Nm at the upper end of the rev range, meaning you really have to work it hard to get the 1,600kg sedan moving. 0-100km/h takes a leisurely 10.7 seconds.
The 127kW/380Nm 2.0-litre diesel – or even the 174kW/330Nm 3.5L V6 petrol that replaced the 2.5 in 2013 – would make for a more convincing package. But don’t expect to get close to the quoted 9.7L/100km, as the petrol spends more time around 11.2L/100km.
The six-speed automatic is mostly intuitive, but it does hunt for economy rather than pace, and there are no paddles to quickly drop a cog or two for quick overtaking.
Running Costs & Warranty: 4.5/10
If you are looking at a second-hand 2011 Renault Latitude be mindful that there aren’t many of the road. Meaning that when things do go wrong it can take some time to source parts (especially if they’re being shipped from France).
Large front-wheel drive cars also tend to wear through tyres quickly if they are not frequently rotated. Another thing to note is the brakes – European manufacturers prefer soft-compound brake pads over harder pads due to their lower NVH levels (at the cost of longevity). As such, the Latitude chews through its pads faster than its Asian rivals.
Since all of these cars will now be out of their five-year warranty, be mindful of costly repairs. An air-conditioning compressor will set you back over $2000 (inc. labour) at a certified Renault dealership.
2011-2015 Renault Latitude DiscoverAuto Rating: 6.8/10
Ultimately, the 2011 Renault Latitude poses an interesting alternative in the used car market. And with it being hit hard by depreciation (like most bigger French cars) means you can buy a fully loaded example for pennies.
2012 models are going for as little as $7,500, while newer examples top out at around $18K.
We recommend haggling hard for a diesel (or bigger V6 if you don’t mind paying at the pump) Luxe or Privilege model, as we think the Latitude is best suited as a comfortable & refined cruiser.