Smooth, refined turbodiesel goes nicely with six-speed auto; cabin remains best in class

What is it?

The biggest Renault MPV, the Grand Espace, with a new combination of engine and gearbox – the 2.0 175bhp dCi turbodiesel and six-speed automatic gearbox.

We're testing it in luxurious top-of-the-line Initiale trim, which means standard leather upholstery, four-zone climate control, sat-nav, bi-xenon lights, electric seats and automatic everything. There may even be a kitchen sink, but there are so many cubbyholes we haven't found it yet.

What's it like?

Very pleasant. The Espace really does have one of the best cabins going – it's a living room, with light flooding in, especially if you have the optional panoramic glass sunroof.

The seats don't fold into the floor like in an S-Max (you have to remove them if you want a van), but the whole package feels much classier, even if it's not as much fun to drive. You can also fold seats down to act as tables, or turn them around to make a meeting room.

The engine is very sweet. It's one of the most refined turbodiesels on the market, and isn't grumbly even when cold. It is also well-matched to the smooth six-speed auto 'box, which efficiently masks changes.

The ride is good, though the odd pot hole sends shimmers through the body.

Should I buy one?

With 175bhp and 266lb ft, this 2.0-litre four-pot has only 5bhp and 30lb ft less than the 3.5 V6 diesel, yet it emits 50g/km less CO2 and costs £850 less. If you’re a company car driver, it's a no-brainer.

Rory Lumsdon

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka