"The Renault Espace is huge, but the rearmost seats are cramped, and there's not much room for luggage."
The Renault Espace is the French firm's idea of the perfect vehicle for a large family. With seven individual - and moveable – seats, the Espace is versatile and comfortable, but with seven people on board, there's very little room for anything else. The Espace has been around for a few years now, but it still looks fresh inside and out, while the modern diesel engines on offer give it decent performance and adequate economy figures.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The 2.0 dCi diesel engine's combined economy of 39.2mpg is as good as it gets, while emissions of 188g/km means Road Tax costs £235 a year. That's a poor showing when compared to the Ford Galaxy, whose petrol engines fall into the same bracket as the Renault's diesels. The Galaxy diesel costs £155 a year in Road Tax.
Interior & comfort
All seven-seats offer good comfort, although there's not a lot of legroom for passengers sitting in the third row. The Espace's suspension smothers road bumps well, while wind and road noise is kept to a minimum. On long motorway runs, the driving seat is a serene place to be, although the way the heating, audio and sat-nav controls are scattered about the cabin can be confusing.
Practicality & boot space
It's huge, but there's not much room for luggage if you have a full complement of passengers. The seats all fold, rotate and slide, but if you want a completely flat load area, they must be removed – which also means you need somewhere to store them. Rivals offer more versatile load and passenger solutions without the need to completely remove all the seats.
Reliability & safety
The upmarket interior is impressively well put together, and the major controls feel robust and nicely engineered. The car is reckoned to be safe, too with a full five star Euro NCAP test.
Engines, drive & performance
Surprisingly, the Espace isn’t as daunting to drive as its size suggests. This Renault steers, brakes and corners much like a conventional car, while the high driving position and large windscreen offer a fine view of the road ahead. You might have trouble finding a parking space big enough for it, but that's true of many of its full-sized MPV rivals. The engine choice starts with a 2.0-litre petrol, which simply isn’t powerful enough. You would be better off with one of the diesels. The 148bhp 2.0 dCi in particular is a fine choice.
Price, value for money & options
The Renault Espace is at the top of the price spectrum for MPVs, but shop around and you should be able to secure a decent discount. The range is relatively simple, with the entry-level Team model a bit light on equipment. Dynamique spec features alloy wheels, metallic paint, cruise control and climate control, satellite navigation and useful rear parking sensors as standard.