This is Renault’s replacement for the ageing Espace MPV, which is intended to give the company more than a foothold in Europe’s profitable premium large car market. The new seven-seater is undergoing hot-weather testing ahead of its launch, which is expected in the early summer of 2015.
Nothing much is known yet about the mechanical make-up of the production model, other than that it is based on a new Renault-Nissan platform, which can be scaled in size from about 4.4m to 5m in length. The production version will be just under 4.9m.
Most versions of the so-far-unnamed car are likely to get a new, downsized and twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine hooked up to an automatic push-button transmission.
The new range-topping model was previewed last September at the Frankfurt show as the Initiale Paris concept. At the time, Renault said that the ‘Initiale Paris’ concept behind the new range-topper was “prestige, but without excess. Renault is fully expressing its intention to carve out its rightful place in the premium segment. It embodies Renault’s vision of premium cars”.
Inside, the highest-spec version of the production car is expected to feature a new take on aluminium and wood trim, as well as a floating centre console and glazed roof to deliver a sense of space.
Renault says it has worked hard on “peerless” seating comfort and is promising “a new approach to acoustics”, with a new Bose-engineered surround sound system likely to be an option.
The emphasis on interior comfort and ambience shows that Renault still thinks that it can win customers from the German prestige brands by emphasising outright luxury, rather than by chasing driving dynamics.
Sources at Renault UK say it remains highly unlikely that the Espace replacement will be sold in right-hand drive form.
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