|Body and chassis|
|Body style||5-door MPV|
The Renault Espace is a large multi-purpose-vehicle (MPV) from French car-maker Renault. Generations 1–3 were sold under the Renault brand but manufactured by Matra. The current fourth generation model, which seats seven passengers, is an all-Renault product; the Renault Grand Espace is a long-wheelbase version with increased rear leg room and boot size. The name "Espace" means "space" in French.
The Espace is often credited as being the world's first MPV, a claim Renault themselves encourage. However, the van based 1950 Volkswagen Type 2, also known as the Kombi, and the 1956 car based Fiat 600 Multipla, popularised the versatile multi-seater concept some 30 years prior to the Espace, and the concept had been tried several times before that, an early example being the 1935 Stout Scarab, and there was the very similar in concept Plymouth Voyager which Lee Iacocca claims was proposed by himself in 1973 when he was working at Ford, although he never got the chance to build it until he went to Chrysler in 1984, the same year the Renault Espace was launched.
In December 2011, Renault announced that the Laguna, Espace, Kangoo, Modus, and Wind lines would be axed in the United Kingdom as part of a cost-cutting plan to help the company make a profit. These models were phased out of the United Kingdom in the early months of 2012, although they were still available in the rest of Europe.
Espace I (1984–1991)
|Assembly||Romorantin, France (Matra)|
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel-drive / four-wheel-drive|
2.0 8v I4
2.9 12v V6
2.1 TD 8v I4
The Espace's design was originally conceived in the 1970s by the British designer, Fergus Pollock, (at around the same time as Giorgetto Giugiaro's 1978 Lancia Megagamma concept MPV), who was working for Chrysler UK (formerly the Rootes Group), at their design centre at Whitley, (now the Jaguar design centre) in Coventry. Later Matra, who were affiliated with Simca, the then French subsidiary of Chrysler, were involved in partnership in the design, spearheaded by Greek designer Antonis Volanis.
The Espace was originally intended to be sold as a Talbot, and to be a replacement for the Matra Rancho leisure activity vehicle. Early prototypes used Simca parts, and hence featured a grille reminiscent of the Simca 1307 (Chrysler Alpine).
In 1978, six years before the Espace went into production, Chrysler UK and Simca were sold to the French company PSA Peugeot Citroën (who phased it out within a decade due to falling sales), and the Espace design was given to Matra.
PSA decided the Espace was too expensive and too risky a design to put into production, and Matra took their idea to Renault (PSA finally ventured into the minivan sector in the mid 1990s with the Citroën Evasion/Peugeot 806).
In 1982, Pierre Heymann who was working on the comparative testing for automobiles at the French National Consumer Institute, made his design for an ideal car and proposed it to Renault.
The Matra concept became the Renault Espace. The design featured a fiberglass body mounted on a warm-galvanized steel chassis, using the same technique and assembly line at the factory as the Talbot Matra Murena. In fact, the introduction of the Espace required the relatively small factory to cease the production of the Murena, to make room for the Espace.
The Espace was launched by Renault in 1984. After a very slow start —a mere nine Espaces were sold in the first month after launch—customers warmed to the benefits of the MPV concept and the Espace became very popular. It was sold in the United Kingdom from August 1985.
In 2004, BBC's motoring show Top Gear began a historic racing series with two Espaces, a Toyota Previa, a Toyota MasterAce, a Mitsubishi Space Wagon and a Nissan Serena. The Espaces came first and second.
Building upon its success, the Espace was revamped in 1988 with most of the Talbot/Simca content being replaced by equivalent Renault parts (the chassis and mechanical components of the car remained largely unchanged). The most obvious cosmetic exterior difference between the very first Espaces and the revamped post-1988 models were the changed headlights: the forward-slanting lights with orange indicator casing of the original Espace were replaced with backward-slanting lights with a clear indicator casing.
Espace II (1991–1997)
|Also called||Renault Univers (China)|
|Assembly||Romorantin, France (Matra)
Xiaogan, China (SRAC)
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel-drive / four-wheel-drive
Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive (Espace F1)
2.0 8v I4
2.2 8v I4
2.9 24v V6
3.5 40v V10 (Espace F1)
2.1 TD 8v I4
A heavily revised Espace was launched in 1991, adopting the Renault family look to replace the Talbot-themed styling of the original. This was essentially a re-skin of the original car, with a new dashboard and other interior improvements. The chassis was unchanged.
In 1995, Renault displayed a show car called the Espace F1, which was created by Matra to celebrate both the 10th anniversary of the Espace and Renault's involvement in Formula One racing. Though it resembled an Espace with substantial bodywork changes, the vehicle had more in common with a Formula One car. The vehicle used a lightweight carbon fibre F1-style chassis in combination with a carbon fibre-reinforced Espace J63-series body (as opposed to fibreglass on the standard model). Powering the Espace F1 was an 800 hp (upgraded from its original rating of 700 hp) 3.5-litre, 40-valve Renault RS5 V10 engine, as used in the 1993 Williams-Renault FW15C. As with an F1 car, the V10 engine was mid-engined (as opposed to the conventional front-engined layout) and the power was transmitted to the rear wheels via a 6-speed semi-automatic gearbox, also used in the Williams FW15C. The engine and transmission allowed the Espace F1 to accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 2.8 seconds, 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) in 6.9 seconds and carry on accelerating to a top speed of 312 km/h (194 mph). With the use of carbon-ceramic brakes, the Espace F1's deceleration was no less impressive that its acceleration, and could accelerate from 0–270 km/h (0–168 mph) and brake to a complete halt in under 600 metres (1,969 ft). This version of the Espace was featured in driving simulator game Gran Turismo 2. Frank Williams was a noted passenger of the Espace F1, chauffeured by Williams driver David Coulthard. The Espace F1 currently resides in the Matra Museum in France.
Espace III (1997–2003)
|Assembly||Romorantin, France (Matra)
Xiaogan, China (SRAC)
|Engine||2.0 8v I4
2.0 16v I4
3.0 24v PSA
1.9 dTi 12v I4
2.2 dTi 12v I4
2.2 dCi 16v I4
|Length||4,517 mm (177.8 in)
4,787 mm (188.5 in) (Grand Espace)
|Width||1,810 mm (71.3 in)
2,070 mm (81.5 in) (Grand Espace)
|Height||1,690 mm (66.5 in)
1,700 mm (66.9 in) (Grand Espace)
The third generation Espace arrived in 1997, with the long-wheelbase Grand Espace coming to market the following year. The most notable feature of the Espace III was the radically futuristic interior (including an elongated and centrally-mounted dashboard, digital speedometer and radio/CD display). The Espace III featured a plastic(GRP) body over a galvanised independent steel chassis. The Espace III shared much of its running gear with the Laguna of the same era. As stated elsewhere, although Renault-badged, the Espace III was Matra built. A number of third generation Espaces were used as bases for NGV and taxi conversions for the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Kuala Lumpur Sentral transportation hub in Malaysia, rebranded as Enviro 2000s.
The third-generation Espace was the last to be built by Matra and indeed the last automobile. Following an end to production of the Espace III for Renault, Matra and MG Rover discussed a possible deal for the latter to build and market Espaces but it failed to happen.
Espace IV (2003–present)
|Assembly||Sandouville, France (Sandouville Factory)
Miaoli, Taiwan (Yulon)
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel drive|
|Engine||2.0 L 16-valve I4 (petrol)
2.0 L 16-valve Turbo I4 (petrol)
3.5 L 24-valve V6 (petrol)
1.9 L dCi I4 (diesel)
2.0 L 16-valve dCi I4 (diesel)
2.2 L 16-valve dCi I4 (diesel)
3.0 L 24-valve dCi V6 (diesel)
|Wheelbase||2,799 mm (110.2 in) (Espace)
2,870 mm (113.0 in) (Grand Espace)
|Length||4,661 mm (183.5 in) (Espace)
4,859 mm (191.3 in) (Grand Espace)
|Width||1,859 mm (73.2 in)|
|Height||1,730 mm (68.1 in)(Espace)
1,750 mm (68.9 in) (Grand Espace)
The fourth generation Espace arrived in 2003, being the first entirely Renault-developed and produced model. The Espace is 90% recyclable and contains numerous weight-reducing materials, thus cutting fuel consumption. The aluminium doors and bonnet are some 20 kg lighter than steel equivalents.
Its styling was reflective of a new design direction at Renault, symbolised by the radical Vel Satis and Avantime models, marking a major departure from the previous model, which also saw the range moved upmarket.
In 2006, the Espace received a thorough facelift (Phase II) and added new 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre dCi engines.
On June 22, 2012, Renault officially announced a restyling of the Espace (Phase IV), the second important after 2006, incorporating the "family feeling" design concept of Laurens van den Acker. Also, it introduced new 2.0 dCi (M9R) engines, in order to meet the French regulations regarding the limitations on CO2 emissions. The car will continue in production until the launch of a new generation within the next few years. The Espace was discontinued in the UK.
The fourth-generation Espace came third from the bottom in the Top Gear Satisfaction Survey 2005.
The 2003 Espace featured in British motoring TV show Fifth Gear where it was crashed into a 1990s Land Rover Discovery at 64 km/h (40 mph). The passenger compartment in the Espace was kept fairly intact, but the dummy in the Discovery was smashed between the seats and the dashboard, leaving no survival possibilities.
The Renault Espace IV has received very good reviews from motoring journalists and is often cited as one of the best vehicles in the large MPV class.
- The AA 
'The [Espace] is the MPV to beat all MPVs; it's spacious, luxurious and drives well for a car this size. And there's no question of it being mistaken for anything else on the road.'
- Autocar 
'The interior is well executed, but even the Grand Espace isn't that spacious with seven on board. Build quality is impressive, as are the diesels, but avoid petrol power.'
- Auto Express 
'The restyle hasn't dented the visual appeal of the Espace. Yet although the interior is more practical, it's simply not as versatile as the cabins of rivals such as the new Ford Galaxy, or upmarket competitors like Land Rover's Discovery.'
- Car 
Against: A bit unwieldy
- Parker's 
Pros: Masses of cabin room, superb long distance cruiser, strong dCi engines
Cons: Can be expensive to buy, seats don't fold flat, sheer size makes it tricky to manoeuvre
- Top Gear 
'The last word in MPVs, the Renault Espace is simply vast, but manages to be stylish and unconventional at the same time. Available in regulation and Behemoth 'Grand' guises, either is the ultimate solution for those with a distrust of birth control.'
- What Car? 
'Decent space for people, if not their luggage. The Espace offers a refined drive and some refined engines, but some rivals are cheaper and more versatile.'
- Renault Press release on the model's 20th anniversary[dead link]
- Lewin, Tony (2003). How to Design Cars Like a Pro: A Complete Guide to Car Design from the Top Professionals. Motorbooks International. ISBN 0-7603-1641-4.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VJDIeeSdAE Top Gear - Historic People Carrier Racing - official Top Gear YouTube channel provided legally by BBC
- "The Williams Database - Matra-Williams-Renault Espace F1". Williamsdb.com. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Musée Matra". http://www.museematra.com. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
- "Austin Rover Online". Austin-rover.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Renault Atlas (May 2012)". Renault. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- "Renault reveals 2013 Espace Minivan: Sales commence in July (Photos)". Rushlane.com. 24 June 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- "Guide to assembly plants in Europe 2012". Autonews.com. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- "Alpine Factory (Dieppe)". Renault Sport Media Website. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- Porter, Brian (8 February 2006). "Renault Espace Gets Another Facelift". Worldcarfans.com. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- "Renault Espace: isn’t space the ultimate luxury?". Renault Motor Shows blog. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
- "New Renault Espace: continuing to define luxury…". Renault. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- "New Renault Espace facelift previewed". Worldcarfans.com. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- Radu, Mihnea (15 May 2012). "Renault Espace Gets Another Facelift". Autoevolution.com. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- "Renault Espace | Euro NCAP - For safer cars crash test safety rating". Euro NCAP. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Car Reviews: Renault Grand Espace 2.0 dCi Privilege". The AA. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Renault Grand Espace 3.0 V6 dCi Privilège Auto". Autocar.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Renault Grand Espace | First Drives | Car Reviews". Auto Express. 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Renault Grand Espace - 2.0 dCi Dynamique (150bhp) 5d Auto - Car Data". Parkers.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "New Renault Grand Espace Car Review - Parker's". Parkers.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Renault Espace/Grand Espace expert car review verdict - BBC Top Gear". Topgear.com. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Renault Espace MPV - Summary - New Car Review - What Car?". Whatcar.com. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- Chapman, Giles (2004-07-22). "Classic Cars: The Renault Espace". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2006-05-22.
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