RAC Cars News


Renault Espace turns 30

By raccars Published

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There have been many excellent cars over the last 30 years. Some have been the best in their class but very few have actually created a whole new class. The Renault Espace did just that. Now celebrating its 30th birthday, the Espace was the original MPV or people carrier. The Espace blazed a trail which was followed by many others. Today, most major manufacturers have an MPV model in their range and cars like Vauxhall's Zafira, Seat’s Alhambra and the Citroen Picasso, have all become a familiar sight on our roads.

It wasn't an instant success, however. There were initial production issues and early sales were poor. It seemed that the motoring public were unsure how to position the Espace but soon its sheer practicality was winning them over. It offered seating for seven and a great level of specification. The ride was good, too, and the Espace offered the comfort of a grand tourer in a body that could swallow up people and luggage. The Espace has never stood still. It has evolved through four different generations and countless facelifts and has gone on to sell more than 1,245,000 cars over its 30 years in production.

Some imitators have achieved the space of the Espace at the expense of the styling and many models end up looking more like minibuses. The Espace has managed to avoid this pitfall and actually looks pretty stylish for such a big car. It also rides like a car and not like a van, which again is a risk with something like the Mercedes Viano. The Espace can seat seven but it has to be said that the rearmost seats are probably best used for children. That said, it is this kind of extended family market that the Espace was designed to address.

The Espace does have its limitations and there is no doubt that some rivals have caught up with its innovative design. The lack of sliding doors means that getting in and out of that rear seat can be tricky. Luggage space is also limited with those last two seats deployed. The Grand Espace addresses this somewhat, but it is still a little nip and tuck. The seating options are still class-leading and the front seats even swivel round to face towards the back, making the Espace an instant little family space for a picnic when it is raining outside. The driving visibility and position are excellent and the quality of the ride keeps the Espace up with more recent competitors.

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