The Renault Espace has morphed into an SUV based on the Austral.
Reviving classic names is becoming a theme in the automotive industry these days. And while Renault has confirmed plans for new 5 and 4 models to headline its next-generation electric line-up, in the shorter term there’s another iconic name returning to the fold.
Say hello to the new Renault Espace. The French brand’s former MPV is now an SUV based on the Austral and available with up to seven seats but there are no plans for right-hand drive yet.
Renault says that the Espace is now more elegant and muscular thanks to its SUV redesign, but by and large it’s a familiar looking thing to anyone who has seen the smaller Austral The new Espace is essentially an extended version of that car, with a longer rear overhang home to the third row of seats. Those seats are optional, with the new car a five-seat SUV with a cavernous boot as standard. But ticking the box for the extra seats will come at no cost in markets the Espace will be offered in.
Using the updated CMF-CD platform means Renault can electrify the Espace for the first time. The last Espace used this platform without electrification, but the new car’s design is very different.
At 4.72 metres long, it’s shorter than the previous-generation MPV, but Renault claims that the passenger compartment is larger thanks to that extended rear end and packaging improvements. Comfort and space remain key, and the second row of seats can recline by up to 31 degrees, while the bench slides 260mm to grant access to the third row.
In five-seat configuration, the Espace’s boot measures up to 777 litres in size with the second row in its most forward position. Folding them opens up a vast 1818 litre storage area. The seven-seat version of the Espace still delivers a Fiat 500-rivalling 159 litres of space with all seats accounted for. The two seats in the third row fold into the boot floor, leaving up to 677 litres of room.
Elsewhere in the new Espace, the interior design and technology takes after the Austral. The cockpit is dominated by the’ OpenR’ infotainment and driver information suite, consisting of a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a portrait 12-inch central touchscreen, seamlessly joined in an L shape. A 9.3-inch head-up-display system is optional, as is selectable LED ambient lighting with 48 colours.
Power comes from a 147kW 1.2-litre conventional hybrid drivetrain, combining combustion power with a compact 2kWh battery and two electric motors. Four drive modes consist of running on battery power alone for a short time, a ‘dynamic hybrid’ mode which runs the car on its electric motors with constant charging of the battery from the combustion engine, an ‘IC’ mode which runs the wheels directly from the engine and a battery regeneration mode.