The Renault Espace lives on, but it’s no longer a people mover.
You could argue the fifth-generation model wasn’t a people mover either, thanks to its jacked-up ride height and crossover styling, but it retained the model’s signature heavily raked windscreen and front quarter windows ahead of the doors.
Both of these elements are gone now. The sixth-generation Espace is essentially a stretched version of the Austral crossover.
The two cars have the same front-end design, windscreen, and front doors. The Espace benefits from a longer wheelbase, lengthened rear doors, greater rear overhang, and a more upright tailgate.
While the Austral is a strictly a five-seat car, the Espace can be purchased in both five- and seven-seat versions. Unlike earlier Espaces, the third-row doesn’t look comfortable for anyone other than small kids.
The Espace is 4722mm long, 1843mm wide, 1645mm tall, and rides on a 2738mm wheelbase. The means it is 61mm longer, and has a 71mm longer wheelbase than the Austral.
It is also 152mm shorter, and rides on a 146mm shorter wheelbase than the outgoing fifth-generation Espace.
Thanks to the extra space out back, the five-seat Espace has more boot space (581L) than the Austral (500L). The seven-seat model’s boot can fit 477L worth of stuff when the third row is down, and just 159L when it’s in use.
Predictably, most of the interior, including the dashboard, is carried straight over from the Austral.
Top-spec models have a 12.3-inch instrumentation screen, a 12.0-inch portrait-oriented infotainment touchscreen, and 9.3-inch head-up display.
Available features include 12-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, 48-colour ambient lighting setup, and four-wheel steering.
On the safety front the Espace can be specified with 360-degree view camera system, matrix LED headlights, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with stop/go functionality, parking assistance, and rear cross-traffic alert.
At launch the Espace will only be available with a 146kW E-Tech Hybrid drivetrain featuring a 96kW/205Nm 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, a 50kW/205Nm electric drive motor, and a secondary 25kW/50Nm secondary motor to start the engine and help shift gears. The electric motors are connected up to 2kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
It’s likely mild-hybrid drivetrains will join the range at some point in the future.
While the Espace can lay claim to being Europe’s first people mover, the segment has been shrinking for over a decade, with car-based competitors, like the Volkswagen Sharan and Ford Galaxy, are exiting or have already exited the scene.
Nowadays, the European people mover scene is dominated by a passenger versions of popular vans.
The new Espace will be built alongside the shorter Austral in Renault’s factory in Palencia, Spain. Although the Austral is available in right-hand drive, the Espace won’t be sold in the UK.