- Enough space for seven
- 5-star NCAP
- Smooth, refined ride
- Not the most efficient
- Hefty road tax bill
- Poor interior quality
Huge practical MPV
The Renault Espace when it was first introduced into the UK market way back in 1985 was the first ever large family MPV to grace our roads. It offered a practical solution for large families as it incorporated seven seats, which was unheard of at the time. The fourth generation Espace, built between 2002-2014, was a modernised continuum of the Espace’s USP. It offered tremendous practicality, an excellent safety record, and a versatile cabin. By 2014 when the Espace ceased to be sold in the UK, it no longer remained the best in its class, but it still remains a great used family buy.
Lots of flexibility, let down by a lack of quality
The Renault Espace has always, throughout its history, been at the forefront of futuristic interior design. The latest Espace is no different, though material quality is disappointing, and there’s not much storage space with all seven seats up.
The dashboard of the Espace, when it was first introduced in 2002, was one of the most unique designs out there. It swooped across the cabin, in a way reminiscent of a spaceship, or a high-tech aircraft. Today it doesn’t look quite so modern, and the quality of materials used is a let down. Plastics feel hard and cheap, especially when you compare them with the soft-touch materials found in more modern cars. Controls are also tricky to get used to, as they are placed on the dashboard rather illogically.
As one of the biggest cars out there, and with a name like it has, you would expect the Espace to be spacious. In the cabin it lives up to its billing, as there’s enough room for seven adults to sit comfortably. The very rear seats are only best used for shorter journeys, but it’s still pretty impressive. There’s not much room in the boot with all of the seats up, but remove them and the Espace has nearly as much room as a large van.
Equipment levels in the Espace were relatively generous when it was still in production. Second-hand, it’s worth looking out for the Dynamique trim, as it offers the best value for money. If you find a car in this spec, you’re going to get alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, sat-nav, electric windows, and rear parking sensors as standard. Perfect for day-to-day family living.
Overall the interior of the Espace is a bit of a mixed bag. There’s plenty of space for passengers, but with seven people in, there’s very little storage space. And whilst the dash design is attractive, it’s not the classiest, and controls are difficult to use. But with a generous equipment list, the Espace does offer great value for money.
Surprisingly easy to drive
For such a huge car, the Espace is actually a pretty impressive drive. It manages to hide its size well, as it feels like a conventional car out on the open road. It’s not a fun car by any means, but it grips through the corners, steering feedback is decent, and it doesn’t roll around as much as you’d expect it to, so it is a car that inspires confidence in the driver. The Espace is also good around town, though you might struggle to find a parking space big enough for it.
Suspension and Chassis
Ride refinement is one area in which the Espace excels. The chassis and suspension system iron out all but the worst of loose road surfaces, speed humps, and potholes. It really is a serene ride, especially when you get it out on the motorway. There’s very little in the way of road and wind noise, so it’s quite an easy car to spend a full day in.
Gearbox options in the Espace came in two guises. The most common transmission in the Espace range is a six-speed manual, that is well-geared, and offers great flexibility for motorway and country road driving. There’s also an automatic option, that’s standard on the top of the range V6 models, which is also pretty impressive.
Not the most economical or green
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Espace, you’ve got the usual two options: petrol, or diesel. Compare the engines in offer in modern competitors and the Espace looks decidedly thirsty, and CO2 emissions are high throughout the range.
Most buyers won’t have performance and power at the top of their requirement lists for their next seven-seat MPV, but there is a great option for petrolheads with large families. The petrol-powered 3.5 litre V6 produces 241bhp, and will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds. For a car this big, that’s mightily impressive.
Eco-friendly buyers will be disappointed with the range of engines available in the Espace. The most modern diesel-powered 2.0 dCi engine emits 188g/km of CO2, which is far from class-leading. When you compare it with the Ford Galaxy, which offers emissions as low as 129g/km of CO2, the Espace is actually pretty disappointing. Nevertheless, this diesel engine is the best option for money-savers. It offers 39.2mpg, which again falls some way short of the best Galaxy (56.5mpg), but it’s not too bad for a car of this size.
Whichever engine you choose to go for in your Espace, you’re probably going to end up spending more money day-to-day than you would in a more modern rival. Fuel efficiency isn’t the best, and CO2 levels are quite high, but there’s enough power throughout the range to give the Espace great day-to-day flexibility.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests
Like nearly every car in its class, the Renault Espace easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that when the Espace was tested by NCAP, way back in 2003, the tests were much less stringent than they are today. Nevertheless, it’s still a safe car to be in, and there’s the usual array of airbags and safety equipment that you’d expect from a large family car.
Reasonable value for money, but not as good value as more modern rivals
The Renault Espace isn’t the cheapest car in its class to run day-to-day. Fuel efficiency levels aren’t quite as impressive as some of it’s more modern rivals, so you’ll be spending more each week at the fuel pumps. CO2 emissions, due to the car’s age, are also high, so the yearly road tax bill won’t be the cheapest either. This is a big car so it’s to be expected that it won’t be cheap to run, but it’s way behind the latest Ford Galaxy.
Insurance costs in the Espace depend upon which model and trim you choose to go for. Roughly speaking, you won’t be paying too much more than you would for an equivalent rival. The cheapest Espace to insure is the 2.0 dCi (150bhp) Dynamique TomTom, which is in group 22, whilst the most expensive is the top of the range 3.5 V6 Privilege, which is in group 33.
Depreciation was a large factor with the Espace, but only if you chose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you were, and are better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Renault Espace is one of the most practical cars out there for big family buyers. There’s plenty of space for seven, it’s safe, and it’s also a comfortable, refined ride. It’s not as efficient as more modern rivals, nor is the interior of the highest quality, but it’s still a great used option to consider, especially for those on a budget.
Buying a used Renault Espace online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Renault Espace for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Espace. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Renault Espace online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Renault? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Renault Espace, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Espace, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Renault to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.