You can see the main difference at first glance – it’s an honest SUV. The first four generations were true MPVs, the fifth was somewhere in between, and the sixth had completely changed the genre. Nevertheless, the novelty adheres to the large-space concept, and even if its dimensions are physically smaller, the length of the entire cabin (from the pedal area to the trunk lid) is still a hair longer than its predecessor. The impression of airiness of the interior is also helped by the huge panoramic roof, which does not have a blind, but the filters in its glass effectively protect the crew from the sun and heat/cold.

Photo: Renault

From the MPV, the Espace moved to the SUV segment with its sixth generation.

Likewise, the new Espace boasts space and variability. Even an adult will be comfortable in the second row, the trunk has more than enough volume in the basic configuration (777 l). The middle bench divided in the ratio 1/3 : 2/3 can be moved longitudinally by up to 220 mm and folded by 31°, behind it is the third row (supplied as an option at no extra charge) with two individually folding seats, which, however, only provide enough space smaller children. With the third row folded out, the trunk is rather insignificant (159 l). In the interior, you will also find a lot of smaller storage spaces (with a total volume of 40 liters), including a sliding armrest on the central tunnel with an integrated induction charger or cup holders for the third row as well.

The new Espace Space 5. gen Difference
Length 4 722 mm 4 857 mm -135 mm
Width 1 825 mm 1 888 mm -63 mm
Height 1 645 mm 1 677 mm -32 l
Wheelbase 2 738 mm 2 884 mm -146 l
Volume of the luggage compartment 159 – 777 l 247 – 785 l

With the previous Espace, the new one also shares a luxurious concept of the cabin – especially if instead of the “basic” Techno version (which is certainly not poor) you go for the more sporty Esprit Alpine equipment with anatomical seats and Alcantara upholstery or the more exclusive Iconic with massage seats with cushions on headrests and decors made of ash wood.

Photo: Renault

The Espace cabin is designed quite luxuriously, the range of equipment is really wide.

The cabin architecture is identical to other new Renault models (Megane E-Tech and Scenic E-Tech, Austral and Rafale), which means two 12-inch displays arranged in the letter L. Infotainment is also the well-known OpenR Link built on the foundations of Google Automotive, which means Google Maps, Waze, Spotify and many other applications (up to 50 in total) as a native part of the system, so you don’t have to mirror them via your phone.

Photo: Renault

Infotainment with the Google core is clear and intuitive, and you can also enjoy your favorite apps without having to mirror your phone.

However, the most interesting scream of modern technology is under the hood. The second generation of the full-hybrid (i.e. charged only by driving) E-Tech combines a 68-horsepower electric motor with a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.2 TCe producing 130 horses. A three-cup in such a large car may seem rather funny to you, but the total performance of the hybrid is a very solid 200 hp and 410 Nm, and in reality the Espace E-Tech can whiz by surprisingly briskly (this is evidenced by a hundred in 8.8 seconds).

Photo: Renault

Although the heart of the hybrid drive is a three-cylinder, the combined power of the entire system is 200 horsepower, so the Espace is no slouch. It can also be quite economical, the hybrid analyzes the topology on the next 7 kilometers of the journey in order to efficiently use the electric and combustion parts of the drive.

The cooperation of the electric and combustion engine is provided by an improved multimodal gearbox (two gears for EV, four for ICE) supported by a reinforced starter-generator, which covers delays during gear changes (there is no clutch and synchros to reduce frictional losses, the reverse gear also does not work, the car reverses only on electricity). Only the front wheels are driven, four-wheel drive is not on offer (and probably not even planned).

The result is electric-only starts (that is, brisk and completely silent) and a relatively refined ride even with the three-cylinder running. The transitions between the two types of drive are usually quite smooth, although sometimes you can catch the hybrid system off guard (by unexpectedly adding gas or when shifting on the highway between 130 and 140 km/h), and then you will experience a jerk, a delay or a loud growl of the three-cylinder. This happens minimally during calm and smooth driving.

Photo: Renault CR / Photo Schulz

A smooth ride is the best indication of the hybrid drive. When you start pushing the saw or fiddling, you can get it tight and feel some popping and lag.

The advantage of such a complex device is lower consumption. Renault promises 40 percent fuel savings and the Espace has a paper consumption of 4.6 liters, but in reality you’ll be between 5.5 and 6.5 liters combined, which is actually equivalent to a diesel engine. Thanks to the 55-liter tank, you will only have to go to the gas station every 800-1000 kilometers.

Photo: Renault CR / Photo Schulz

The equipment of the Esprit Alpine is sport-tuned, you will enjoy the anatomical seats the most, which will hug you tightly in corners and give you more comfort on long routes.

The new Espace also benefits from the use of the concern’s CMF-CD platform, which, in addition to deploying the most modern technical, including sophisticated assistance systems (there are 32 on board), also brings a significant reduction in weight (by more than two meters, the Espace thus weighs approximately 1.7-1, 8 tons) and a sophisticated chassis with multi-element rear axle suspension and 4Control rear wheel steering.

Photo: Renault

Turning the wheels of the rear axle in the opposite direction (top image) helps to improve maneuverability at lower speeds (up to 50 km/h) (the turning radius decreases by 1.2 meters), at higher speeds (above 50 km/h) turning in the same direction (below) ) increases stability.

Thanks to this, the Espace is surprisingly nimble and precise, enjoying a faster pace on the circuit (whereas its predecessor required careful driving) without protesting lean or bouncing. But the main thing is that it feels safe, confident and comfortable during normal driving (even on 21-inch wheels) so that your family can travel like cotton wool. There’s just one problem…

Photo: Renault CR / Photo Schulz

Trying Espace directly on Czech roads was a valuable experience. The hybrid drive is both an advantage and a weakness (depending on the point of view), the famous name obliges, but the novelty cannot fully fulfill its legacy.

Name. The Espace legacy simply raises too many expectations, which the sixth generation can’t quite live up to, even if it tries its hardest in terms of roominess and variability. Perhaps because you could fit three child seats next to each other in the second row of previous Espacs – they were three separate seats that you could also position independently. Also, the third row accommodated more mature passengers than just small children. Not to mention that the predecessors had a more airy interior (a large panoramic window won’t save it) and it was better to see out of them. Simply, a real SUV will not replace any SUV…

Otherwise, the new Renault Espace is actually pretty good. It’s a seriously roomy, practical and well-designed car that’s a pleasure to drive because it can drive comfortably and nimbly, as well as being quiet and fuel-efficient thanks to its hybrid drivetrain (although it could use some fine-tuning). In short, a very capable rival for the Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008, Honda CR-V or Nissan X-Trail. It should have just been called Austral XL…

Renault is looking forward to luck and has put a very competitive price tag on the Espace hybrid – it starts at 999,000 CZK (Techno equipment), 1,069,000 CZK for the Esprit Alpine and 1,119,000 CZK for the top-of-the-line Iconic (compared to the Austral, you pay approx. 90,000 extra) .