French manufacturer's MPV morphs into stylish crossover available in both five and seven-seat forms; right-hand-drive version not ruled out
Darren Moss
2 October 2014

The flagship Renault Espace has morphed from an MPV into a crossover, which has been seen for the first time at the Paris motor show and will go on sale towards the end of this year.

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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25 September 2014
That looks like a jacked-up S-Max with over-sized wheels. Shame we will be denied the choice.

25 September 2014
They're shrunk the windows tremendously, anyone want to bet it'll be significantly dimmer inside than the current model?

The styling, other than those ludicrous over-sized wheels and wheelarches, is pretty inoffensive. I can't say it would have me rushing out to buy one though, it lacks the presence that the first and fourth generation cars had.

25 September 2014
Oversized wheels apart i like the look. Perhaps a 30K car is too much for Renault in the UK. They could have launched it as an Infiniti over here, where the badge would appear to be important that on the continent.

25 September 2014
If you count the 5-Series GT as a crossover, this new Espace is otherwise pretty unique in being the only one of its type in the class. But if the BMW is a rival then there's no doubt which one, IMO, is attractive, stylish and even desirable looking. And it's not the one with a blue and white badge on it. I think this new Espace look great.

25 September 2014
It isn't. Renault doesn't rival BMW and won't rival BMW no matter how ugly - and the 5-Series GT is ugly - BMWs become.

25 September 2014
The wheels are over-sized but I'd bet Renault has ticked the most expensive options boxes for the press car.

25 September 2014
I like the look of this, but at 4.9m long it is a very large vehicle (bigger than a Galaxy) so maybe Renault are being realistic about selling it here.

25 September 2014
And beat it with the ugly stick! that is looks like no other car on the road but, rather, an amalgam of all cars on the road shows how bad this thing is styled. Maybe in the metal all of this will blend together but, right now, it looks like a three year-old took various sets of Legos and put them together.

A34

25 September 2014
Good car for French eurocrats. It looks like its in a class of 1 - the stylish large MPV - so its a shame its not coming here for those wanting a posh van but at less than a LR Discovery. Would be a good alternative for the luxury limo driver...

25 September 2014
Now that's a really good looking MPV!

Cyborg

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