The striking new Renault Espace has moved away from its boxy shape
Renault says the new Espace combines elements of saloon, SUV and MPV
The new Renault Espace will be available in both five and seven-seat forms
The production version of the Renault Espace is about 4.9m long
European sales start later this year, but there's no confirmed UK sales plan
Renault justifies calling the Espace a crossover by saying its new shape combines elements of saloon, SUV and MPV, while retaining the light and space of the latter.
The new model will be available as either a five-seat or seven-seat, but neither version will come to the UK in the short term. The Espace hasn't been offered for sale here since Renault UK's model cull in 2011.
However, in the longer term Renault boss Carlos Ghosn isn't completely ruling out a right-hand-drive version.
"The new Espace is competing in a small segment, so we will start from a low level with sales and go up," he said. "We'll make sure we do well in mainland Europe before going elsewhere, we want a positive response first. We're being more progressive in strategy, setting low goals and hopefully having high achievements – it was the reverse before."
The production Espace's design differs very little from the Initiale Paris concept revealed at last year's Frankfurt motor show. At the time, Renault bosses said the concept was "very close" to how the production variant would look.
Renault says the cabin is "brightly-lit, comfortable and modular," and features a floating centre console. The highest-spec version of the production car is expected to feature a new take on aluminium and wood trim, as well as a glazed roof to deliver the sense of space. Renault is also thought to have worked hard on seating comfort and acoustics.
This production Espace is based on the new Renault-Nissan CFM1 modular platform and is expected to measure about 4.9m in length. Most versions of the car will be powered by a new, turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine coupled to an automatic transmission operated by push buttons.
The decision to shift away from the traditional shape of the Espace is a controversial one for Renault, with the brand's design boss Laurens van den Acker telling Autocar the current-generation car – which was first introduced in 2003 – had lived "for too long".
The change to a crossover shape was designed to make the new Espace "more elegant", he added.
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