Renault Espace & Grand Espace

The Renault Espace pretty much kicked off the people-carrier craze. The latest model exhibits traditional French flair, at a cost.

The Renault Espace  is every inch the family bus it proclaims to be. The seats are wide, thickly padded, and the front 5 can even swivel through 360 degrees. The rear 5 can be removed all together, making the Espace more akin to a van than a car. Unlike some rivals however, the 2 rearmost seats cannot be folded into the floor, so must be removed all together, a heavy and difficult process. The minimalist cabin is well finished for the most part, visibility is excellent, and there are enough cubby holes scattered through the capacious cabin in which to loose several children.

Driving dynamics are not the Renault Espace ’s forte. Being so high, and so heavy, excessive body roll through the bends coupled with vague steering and unsettled suspension dissuades the driver from making even slightly spirited progress. I suspect however, that a satisfying b-road blast is not a priority for any potential Espace owner. It’s imperative therefore, that the Renault Espace makes for an effortless and comfortable cruiser. Thankfully, you’ll not be disappointed. A supple ride and good noise suppression makes the Espace an excellent environment in which to spend a few hours on the motorway.

Buyers can chose between two variants of the same 2.0-litre diesel engine, with either 150, or 175bhp. The 150 is only available with a manual, while the 175 is available only as an automatic-so buyers can chose between them based solely on which gearbox they’d prefer. Neither version is fast, but thanks to good low and mid-range torque, neither feels strained hauling the Renault Espace ’s 1.8 ton bulk. Nor should the Renault Espace be very expensive to run or maintain. It doesn’t have the best reliability record, but parts should be cheap and both engines are capable of returning 40mpg + and low emissions.

Value for money
The Renault Espace comes ready-loaded with a raft of standard kit, dual zone climate control, sat nav, alloy wheels, and automatic everything. It’s one of the safest MPVs you can buy, having been rated at 5 stars, yet rivals like the Ford Galaxy are cheaper, more versatile, and feel less like a bus to drive. The Renault Espace also suffers from poor resale values and expensive insurance premiums.

Worth noting
Renault has gone to great lengths to make the Renault Espace one of the safest MPVs money can buy. Front, side, and curtain airbags are standard for the first and second row of seats, while deadlocks in the doors prevent them from being opened even if a window’s been smashed.

The well-equipped, comfortable Renault Espace is a good choice for larger families, but it’s beginning to show its age against the cheaper and more versatile competition.

Sales have officially ended for the Espace now, Renault took the decision to end UK sales. We’d recommend checking out the excellent SEAT Alhambra instead.