Renault Espace (2023) review: Its main feature is free

The Renault Espace has the same engines and chassis as the Austral. He actually only borrowed his famous name from the old Espace. Fortunately, its main feature is free.

What is striking about the Renault Espace?

A brand cannot do without icons. At Renault, the Espace (especially the first generation) is without a doubt part of the hall of fame. The first version appeared in 1984; a spacious, high car for seven people, with seats that you could turn around, fold into a table or remove from the car. It was revolutionary and almost every brand copied the concept.

Still, the shine disappeared a bit from the model. The MPV died out and gave way to the SUV – and the Espace remained as an old Nokia among the VR glasses. Now that the sixth generation is in the starting blocks, things are about to change. He was only allowed to borrow the famous name from his predecessor. Come on, the new Espace is also a seven-seater. But otherwise the new Espace is mainly an inflated Renault Austral. Chassis, engines, dashboard, everything is shared. Only the Espace is more than 20 centimeters longer. At the same time, it is 14 centimeters shorter than the old Espace.


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What’s good about the Renault Espace?

The Espace is for sale as a five- and seven-seater and in the latter case you do not have to pay anything extra. In other words: the third row of seats is free.

The 200 hp hybrid powertrain was not conceived with the French blow. It consists of a 131 hp three-cylinder, an electric motor with 68 hp, a starter motor/generator with 25 hp and a six-speed automatic transmission. It is quiet, the chassis is comfortable and with optional four-wheel steering, the handling is surprisingly dynamic. Because the rear wheels countersteer a little at low speed, the turning circle is also just as small as that of a Clio.

The driving behavior is somewhat similar to an electric car. You can determine the degree of recovery of the braking energy yourself via paddles on the steering wheel. This means that on some routes you hardly need to use the brake pedal. And that in turn has a favorable effect on consumption, which you can keep around 1 in 20 with a little good will. A comfortable, spacious travel car with a modern and beautifully finished dashboard – although it is a bit characterless.

What could be better about the Renault Espace?

And that brings us to the biggest drawback. Of course we have to be careful with too much nostalgia, but we still miss the chairs and folding tables from previous generations. As an adult you can only reach the third row of seats if you have completed the Ballet Academy in The Hague, the seats are short and the legroom is tight. For small children up to the age of 8 it is still doable, that must be said.

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Worse is that the hybrid system is not always smooth – perhaps Renault has thought about it a fraction too much. The petrol engine sometimes jumps in too late, so nothing happens when you press the accelerator. After a second he is still at the lesson, but emotionally it takes longer. In addition, the brake pedal is somewhat numb – an extra incentive to recover as much energy as possible via the paddles behind the wheel.

When will the Renault Espace come to the Netherlands and what is the price?

The new Renault Espace will be in the showroom in the autumn of 2023. Only the E-Tech full hybrid with 200 hp is for sale in the Netherlands, for a price of at least 46,830 euros. This makes it exactly 3000 euros more expensive than a Renault Austral with the same engine.

What do I think of the Renault Espace?

As a child I experienced the heyday of the first Espace. The chair magic, the huge windows, the curious design; I thought it was a fascinating car. I miss that daring with the new Espace. It is a comfortable and economical seven-seater, but without the frills of yesteryear. It’s nothing more than an Austral with a little more space.

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