Renault Espace MPV (2003-2012)
"The Renault Espace is huge, but the rearmost seats are cramped, and there’s not much room for luggage."
- 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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.