40 years ago, Renault introduced a model that could be regarded as the first MPV, which it called the Espace. It was a versatile people-carrier and in the typical French way, it was described as ‘the first car for life and living’.
In the same way Chrysler’s minivan set the American carmakers rushing into a new segment, the Espace too created a new segment that would keep growing over 5 generations, matching the rise in popularity of SUVs.
The sixth generation now begins and leads the brand’s charge in the C and D segments. As with its predecessors, it has been evolving with the times but retained the people-carrier DNA throughout as well as being Renault’s most spacious model.
Not surprisingly, the new Espace gets SUV undertones as well as a more athletic vibe. Under the 1330 mm x 880 mm sunroof (one of the largest in the market) is seating for 5 or 7 persons to travel comfortably on long journeys.
Built on the Alliance’s purpose-designed CMF-CD platform and sharing panels with the Austral, it comes with 4CONTROL Advanced, Renault’s 4-wheel-steering system, that enhances manoeuvrability. The turning radius of 10.4 metres quoted will be found to be comparable to the Clio which is a supermini!
Its overall dimensions are smaller, lowering the weight by up to 215 kgs, so operating efficiency can be better. At launch, Renault is specifying just one powertrain, the E-Tech hybrid unit with 200 ps/205 Nm generated by the turbocharged 1.2-litrte 3-cylinder engine. With a claimed consumption of 21.7 kms/litre, can cover up to 1,100 kms.
The electric side of the hybrid powertrain is composed of an electric motor, a high-voltage starter-generator, and a 2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. E-Tech hybrid vehicles are self-recharging using kinetic energy when decelerating and braking.
Customers can choose the Espace with a 5-seat or 7-seat layout for the same price. The second row of seats can be moved with up to 220 mm of variability. This can allow more rear legroom for the passengers in the third row.
As would be expected, when the third row is used for passengers, the cargo space available behind them is just 159 litres. But the whole row can be folded into the floor to create a flat space with a volume of up to 677 litres. Those who need more space can also fold the second row and the volume can go up to 1,818 litres. Of course, this does mean that the vehicle can only take two persons up front.
Besides extensive connectivity options, there are no less than 32 driver assistance systems to help keep the driver aware of potential hazards and collisions, and to act autonomously if the correct action is not taken. No mention is made of autonomous capability yet although some manufacturers are already preparing the newer models to be able to operate autonomous to some extent.
From the pictures released, the dashboard has similarities to the one in the Austral with a 12-inch touchscreen panel in the middle and a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, with OpenR technology. A head-up display will also be available as standard or option, depending on the version.
To ensure that no one complains about running out of battery power in their devices, the interior designers have provided 6 USB ports around the MPV. There’s also a wireless charging pad and two 12V outlets for devices that require more them.
“The all-new Espace is a major vehicle to ensure and confirm our move upmarket. It retains the DNA of the five previous generations, through its top-of-the-range presentation, its comfort, its habitability and its luminosity. It is also being transformed to meet new customer demands, with a benchmark hybrid engine and a unique multimedia experience,” said Fabrice Cambolive, CEO of Renault brand