Brief test: Renault Laguna Estate (2000 model).

A big comfortable estate car with a nice interior, a crazy computer and one real failing.

Renault's family sized estate car is a worthy contender in most respects. It has a large, well shaped and easy to fill load area and traditional Renault levels of comfort over a long journey.

The interior equipment is fine except for the rather dysfunctional trip computer. It has a read out of how far you can go on the remaining fuel but once this gets down to about seventy km it simply says zero in an attempt to frighten you into filling up right away. That's great but what if I'm fifty km from home and I want to know if I can make it back on the fuel that I have.

Unladen, the fuel consumption, range on a tankful and performance are all more than good enough for me. But, load the car up to capacity and a minor upslope on a motorway will have you in third gear, your foot to the floor and the speed decaying through 60mph and heading south. That's not good, it makes you feel very vulnerable on the motorway when even the big trucks want to pass you and it does terrible things to the fuel consumption.

Perhaps if I needed the space for three kids in the back and a big dog in the load bay, I'd consider one of these but really, as a load lugger, it just doesn't hack it and for me that is a terminal failing.

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