Renault Espace MPV (2003-2012)
- Large comfortable seats
- Versatile cabin
- Excellent safety
- Hidden controls on dashboard
- Expensive to buy and run
- Lack of luggage space with all seats in use
"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
Combined fuel economy of 39.2mpg is as good as it gets
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
On long motorway runs, the Espace feels serene
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 spacious but seats must be removed completely for a flat load area
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
Major controls feel robust and nicely engineered
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
The high driving position and large windscreen offer a fine view
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 entry-level Team model a bit light on equipment
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.
What the others say
The looks disguise its size well - it's more than 4.5 metres long - while inside it's roomy and versatile. It does most of the things you'd expect a people carrier to do, like have seats that fold and remove, lots of clever storage bins and the ability to carry seven people.
The Espace was revised in April 2006, with a new dash and sliding rail system for the seats. The looks were also mildly changed with a tidier front end and new headlamp design, but it still remains one of the most distinctive full-sized seven-seat MPVs you can buy.
Or you could practice birth control, that's the other option. Just kidding – the Espace is vast, stylish and clever, and it's a fab idea if you’ve got both kids and money.
Full of kit, comfortable and refined. Very versatile seven-seat layout. Excellent crash test rating.
Last updated: 28 Jun 2013