Renault Espace

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Renault Espace
Renault Espace IV Facelift 20090801 front.JPG
Manufacturer Renault
Production 1984–present
Body and chassis
Class Large MPV (Espace I–IV)
Luxury crossover (Espace V)[1]
Body style 5-door MPV (Espace I–IV)
5-door SUV (Espace V)[1]

The Renault Espace is a large multi-purpose-vehicle (MPV) (luxury mid-sized crossover in the forthcoming fifth generation[1][2]) 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 (LWB) version with increased rear leg room and boot size. The name "Espace" means "space" in French. The car is often considered to be the first MPV, but previous vehicles had similar designs .[citation needed]

In December 2011, Renault announced that the Espace would be axed in the United Kingdom as part of a cost-cutting plan to help the company earn a profit.[citation needed] This change took effect in the early months of 2012.[citation needed]

Espace I (1984–1991)[edit]

Espace I
Renault Espace First Iteration Blois 1984.jpg
Production 1984–1991
Assembly Romorantin, France (Matra)
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive (FWD) / Front-engine
Engine petrol
2.0 8 valve I4
2.9 12 valve V6
2.1 TD 8 valve I4
Renault Espace rear

The Espace's design was originally conceived in the 1970s by the British designer Fergus Pollock, who was working for Chrysler UK, at their design centre at Whitley in Coventry.[3] Later on 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 out Simca within a decade due to falling sales. PSA decided the Espace was too expensive and too risky a design to put into production, so it was given to Matra, who took the idea to Renault. PSA finally ventured into the minivan sector in the mid 1990s with the Citroën Evasion/Peugeot 806.

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. 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 eventually launched by Renault in 1984. After a slow start —a mere nine Espaces were sold in the first month [4]— consumers realized the benefits of the MPV concept and the Espace became popular. It was sold in the United Kingdom from August 1985.

In 1984, American Motors Corporation (AMC) announced it would begin to market the front-wheel-drive Espace in the U.S.[5][6] The minivan was exhibited to consumers at the 1985 Chicago Auto Show, but AMC's negotiations with Matra continued over the vehicle's import pricing.[7] Plans for the Espace to be launched in the U.S. ended with the purchase of AMC by Chrysler.

The Espace is often credited as being the world's first MPV, a claim Renault promotes.[8] Some people eventually speculates that the 1956 Fiat 600 Multipla or the 1935 Stout Scarab would be already MPVs.[citation needed]

In 2004, BBC's motoring show Top Gear began a historic racing series with two Espaces, some various other MPVs. The Espaces came first and second.

Renault Espace MK1 facelift


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)[edit]

Espace II
Renault Espace front 20080215.jpg
Also called Renault Univers (China)
Production 1991–1997 (F)
1994–1999 (PRC)
Assembly Romorantin, France (Matra)
Xiaogan, China (SRAC)
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive / four-wheel-drive
Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive (Espace F1)
Engine petrol
2.0 8v I4
2.2 8v I4
2.9 24v V6
3.5 40v V10 (Espace F1)
2.1 TD 8v I4
Renault Espace rear

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.

Espace F1[edit]

Renault Espace F1 at the Retromobile 2014
Renault Espace F1 at the Retromobile 2014

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 (597 kW; 811 PS) (upgraded from its original rating of 700 hp (522 kW; 710 PS) 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.[9] The Espace F1 currently resides in the Matra Museum in France.[10]

Espace III (1997–2003)[edit]

Espace III
Renault Espace front 20080222.jpg
Production 1997–2003
Assembly Romorantin, France (Matra)
Xiaogan, China (SRAC)
Engine 2.0 8v I4
2.0 16v I4
3.0 PRV
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)
Renault Espace rear 20080222.jpg

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.[11]

Espace IV (2003–2014)[edit]

Espace IV
Renault Espace Edition 25th dCi 175 (IV, Facelift) – Frontansicht, 17. Juli 2011, Ratingen.jpg
Production 2003–2014[12][13][14][15]
Assembly Sandouville, France (Sandouville Factory)[12][14][15]
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)
Transmission 6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
6-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,799 mm (110.2 in) (Espace)[16]
2,870 mm (113.0 in) (Grand Espace)[17]
Length 4,661 mm (183.5 in) (Espace)[16]
4,859 mm (191.3 in) (Grand Espace)[17]
Width 1,859 mm (73.2 in)[16][17]
Height 1,730 mm (68.1 in) (Espace)[16]
1,750 mm (68.9 in) (Grand Espace)[17]
facelift Renault Espace rear
Pre-facelift Renault Espace facelift
Pre-facelift Renault Espace facelift

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.[18]

In October 2010 a slight redesign was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show (Phase III), with minor cosmetic changes, LED lights and improved equipment.[19]

On 22 June 2012, Renault officially announced a restyling of the Espace (Phase IV), the second important after 2006,[20][21][22] 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.[20] The car continued in production until the launch of a new generation.[21] The Espace was discontinued in the UK.

The fourth-generation Espace came third from the bottom in the Top Gear Satisfaction Survey 2005.


The Espace IV passed the Euro NCAP car safety tests with following ratings:[23]

Adult Occupant: 5/5 stars
Pedestrian: 2/4 stars

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 8/10 stars[24]
    '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 3.5/5 stars[25]
    '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 3/5 stars[26]
    '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 4/5 stars[27]
    For: Gigantic
    Against: A bit unwieldy
  • Parker's 4/5 stars[28]
    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 6.5/10 stars[29]
    '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? 3/5 stars[30]
    '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.'

Espace V (2015-)[edit]

Espace V
Renault Espace - Mondial de l'Automobile de Paris 2014 - 006.jpg
Production 2015–present
Assembly Douai, France (Douai Renault Factory)
Body and chassis
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Platform Renault CMF-CD

The fifth-generation Espace was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October 2014. It was inspired by the 2008 Renault Ondelios concept car. It changes the large MPV design of previous generations for a crossover SUV styling. The car is based on the Renault–Nissan Common Module Family architecture developed by Renault and Nissan.[2]

The Renault Espace introduces radar Adaptive Cruise Control and active emergency braking[31] and it is offered with the latest version of Renault's R-Link 2 infotainment system (voice control, navigation, Bluetooth and radio), engine stop-start, emergency brake assist, lane departure warning and road-sign recognition with speed limit alerts, 360-degreee sensors, reversing camera and a hands-free parking system.

Initiale Paris[edit]

The Renault Initiale Paris

The fifth-generation Espace was preceded by the Initiale Paris concept car, which is similar to the production version. The concept was unveiled in September 2013 at the Frankfurt Motor Show and it has a SUV-like design and various luxury elements,[32] previewing also the new Renault's Initiale Paris luxury sub-marque.[33] The car incorporates an aluminium–poly(methyl methacrylate) roof which has a map of Paris.[34] The engine is a 1.6-litre diesel unit.[32] The Initiale Paris is the final installment of Laurens van den Acker's "cycle of life" six-concept series, with each one representing, according to Renault, a lifetime moment: "love" (Renault DeZir), "explore" (Renault Captur), "family" (Renault R-Space), "work" (Renault Frendzy), "play" (Renaults Twin'Z and Twin'Run) and "wisdom" (Renault Initiale Paris).[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Diem, William (2014-10-03). "Renault's Reinvented Espace CUV steals show in Paris". Wards Auto. Retrieved 2014-10-07. 
  2. ^ a b "Reinvented Renault Espace revealed". Autocar. 2014-10-02. Retrieved 2014-10-06. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Top Gear - Historic People Carrier Racing - official Top Gear YouTube channel provided legally by BBC
  5. ^ Stepler, Richard (February 1985). "New generation minivans". Popular Science 226 (2): 74–75. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "A.M.C. to Import Renault Mini-Van". The New York Times. 3 October 1984. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  7. ^ Mateja, James (13 March 1985). "AMC Will Not Import New, Larger Alliance". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Renault Celebrates 20 Years of Espace - Spanning Four Generations of the Industry’s First MPV" (Press release). Renault UK Press Office. 1 July 2004. Archived from the original on 11 August 2004. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Matra Williams Renault Espace F1". 17 December 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Le Musée" (in French). Musée Matra. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Simeli, Asopèe. "L'affaire Renault". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Renault Atlas (May 2012)". Renault. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Renault reveals 2013 Espace Minivan: Sales commence in July (Photos)". 24 June 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Guide to assembly plants in Europe 2012". Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "Alpine Factory (Dieppe)". Renault Sport Media Website. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012. [dead link]
  16. ^ a b c d [1][dead link]
  17. ^ a b c d [2][dead link]
  18. ^ "Renault Espace Gets Another Facelift" (Press release). 8 February 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  19. ^ "Renault Espace: isn’t space the ultimate luxury?". Renault Motor Shows blog. 13 October 2010. Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "New Renault Espace: continuing to define luxury…". Renault. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  21. ^ a b "New Renault Espace facelift previewed". Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  22. ^ Radu, Mihnea (15 May 2012). "Renault Espace Gets Another Facelift". Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  23. ^ "Renault Espace | Euro NCAP - For safer cars crash test safety rating". Euro NCAP. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  24. ^ "Car Reviews: Renault Grand Espace 2.0 dCi Privilege". The AA. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  25. ^ "Renault Grand Espace 3.0 V6 dCi Privilège Auto". Retrieved 2010-12-02. [dead link]
  26. ^ "Renault Grand Espace | First Drives | Car Reviews". Auto Express. 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  27. ^ "Renault Grand Espace - 2.0 dCi Dynamique (150bhp) 5d Auto - Car Data". Retrieved 2010-12-02. [dead link]
  28. ^ "New Renault Grand Espace Car Review - Parker's". Retrieved 2010-12-02. [dead link]
  29. ^ "Renault Espace/Grand Espace expert car review verdict - BBC Top Gear". Retrieved 2010-12-02. [dead link]
  30. ^ "Renault Espace MPV - Summary - New Car Review - What Car?". Retrieved 2010-12-02. [dead link]
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b Kew, Ollie (10 September 2013). "Renault Initiale Paris concept (2013) at Frankfurt motor show". Car. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  33. ^ Rendell, Julian (10 September 2013). "Renault Initiale Paris concept shown". Autocar. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  34. ^ Wilkinson, Leo (10 September 2013). "Renault Initiale Paris concept car hints at next Espace". Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  35. ^ "Renault Initiale Paris Concept". Car Body Design. 12 September 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]