Renault pretty much invented the people carrier as we know it when the original Espace was launched 30 years ago. Now Renault has reinvented its biggest MPV for the sixth generation.
The new Renault Espace is described as a “large, innovative crossover.” That last word is an important one; family car buyers have been moving away from traditional people carriers to crossovers, preferring their tougher looks and higher driving positions.
So, the new car rides high, though it’s doubtful it has any real off-road pretensions. Most will be front-wheel-drive, but don’t rule out a hybrid version with the electric motor powering the rear axle. Renault also has a clever traction control system that mimics four-wheel-drive, as fitted to the Scenic XMOD.
What else? Well, it’s certainly large – five and seven seat versions will be available, though there’s no indication yet of whether there will be a bigger Grand Espace, as there has been for the last two generations.
Calling it elegant isn’t too big a claim either. Last year’s Initiale Paris concept car previewed the design and little has changed. The Espace is the boldest, most striking seven-seater we’ve seen in a long time. We particularly like the elaborate, flowing rear quarter window.
No images of the interior have been revealed, but Renault promises “a brightly-lit, comfortable [and] occupant-friendly cabin.” All we know at this point is that it will have a floating centre console. But a digital instrument panel and an upgraded version of Renault’s R-Link infotainment system are likely to feature.
Sadly, the new Espace won’t be built in right-hand-drive form, so we won’t get it in the UK. But then the current car was withdrawn from the market in 2012 after sales slowed to a crawl.
It’s a shame, really. If the new Espace turns out to be as good as it looks, it could give the next Volvo XC90 a real run for its money here.
The new Renault Espace will make its public debut at the Paris Motor Show next month.
Visit the Renault website here