When it comes to people carriers, Renault was one of the pioneers among manufacturers and the Espace range is clearly class-leading. With excellent safety ratings and a whole host of engine sizes and specifications to choose from, the Espace has something to offer any family.
The goodRoom for all the family and more
The badNot great for city centre driving
Renault Grand Espace Initiale dCi 175 automatic
With all the room needed to transport a seven-a-side rugby team plus all their kit, the size of the Renault Grand Espace speaks for itself.
In fact, from the second you lay eyes on the vehicle you cannot fail to be impressed by its size, but the really surprising factor for me was the way it handled too.
The interior was beautifully designed and the heated cream leather seats complete with grey stitching added a stylish quality. The entire interior has a minimalist feel to it with very few dials or controls on immediate show. A drop-down compartment conceals the stereo system and the highly efficient air con system is operated from a panel on the driver’s or passenger’s door – second row passengers have their own controls. The other features are operated from the steering wheel or via a centre dial to access the 3D sat nav system, audio plus MP3 and the Bluetooth hands free kit.
And then there is the adaptable panoramic sunroof which floods the cabin with light.
But the Grand Espace is really all about comfort, style and versatility. The seven-seats can be adapted every which way and the vehicle can quickly be transformed into a two-seater if required to carry larger objects. There are literally storage compartments everywhere and they are actually large enough to store things unlike some rivals.
Despite its size, the Grand Espace was really quite easy to manoeuvre and that’s mainly down to the class-leading all-round visibility and the assistance of parking sensors. But it was out on the open road that it really impressed my.
I expected it to be a bit on the noisy side and a little sluggish – it wasn’t. The 2.0-litre diesel-driven engine delivered plenty of power and the ride was both smooth and quiet as it moved efficiently through the automatic transmission.
Road-holding was also very impressive on tighter bends and the comfort levels all round were very good. Even back row passengers enjoy a considerable amount of legroom.
Renault has packed plenty of safety features into the Grand Espace including a reinforced body structure, eight airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme and plenty more.
Although the top-of-the-range Initiale model supplied for my test drive had a few extra refinements which took the asking price to a little over £40k, there are plenty of other versions to suit different budgets.
All in all, the Grand Espace is crammed with quality, offers excellent safety credentials, delivers a comfortable ride and has plenty of on-board entertainment for longer journeys.
So, altogether now… the wheels on the Espace go round and round!