Spacious Elegance

      As 15 years ago the first rENAULT ESPACE model appeared on the motor-car market, was the car accepted with some hesitancy. For this vehicle simply was no category at all. This automobile was in that time as unique that he evolved an own category - MPV category (MPV = Multi Purpose Vehicle). During a very short time he acquired a great favour and that's why other car producers tried to do their utmost. There should be mentioned Fiat, Peugeot, Volkswagen, Opel and others. In this relatively new car class was it full soon ant that's why Renault designers got to do their best to keep their Espace as the imaginary king of the class position. That they were successful is witnessed by many proper tests results, which are proved by renowned automobile journals. 

      We have put to a test the Espace 2,2 dT with a supercharged 2,2 litre Diesel engine and indirect fuel injection. During the time the Espace outlook has changed quite as fashion trends in the automobile industry have changed. Edged forms became during the time roundish, but distinctive elements were kept on. Side auxiliary triangular windows before the front doors for instance. At first Espace was mounted on the chassis of the automobile plant flagship Renault 25, but even at that time the body design was a real technical delicacy at all. Most of the visible parts were made of elastic plastic, which reliably stood up to slight deformations. This attribute is for Renault Espace significant up to now. Plastic parts are mounted on a braced steel skeleton. To those  which might not trust in rigidity and resistance of a car designed such way, their arguments are disproved - Renault Espace was the best in barrier tests NCAP.

      The main preference of MPV cars is above all plenty of room and compartment space. The tested Renault model is outstanding in this point of view. There are seven seats considering the length only 17 mm over 4,5 m - that is only 7 mm more than for instance Renault Laguna. Larger space availability for passengers is due to the design. Espace has passenger space much more larger than most cars of other classes. Thanks to this the passengers can sit on their seats more upright and higher above the floor - they "consume" much less room lengthways. I can say by my own experience that sitting on any of these seven seats is very comfortable thanks to the fact that they are all-round adjustable and comfortable severe - even the rear seats. They may be shifted lengthways, their back-rest can be inclined, there can be made a little table of them, tilt them totally or remove them at all. When the car is fully occupied it can be difficult to get to rear seats. Since it is necessary to get in over the rear tipped wall, which can be difficult namely when the luggage space is full loaded. When the car is full occupied his volume is 275 l. The luggage space can be enlarged by removing of seats up to 2,850 l. Except  sufficient passenger room Espace is outstanding in compartment space for small objects and bottles with drinks. The compartment box in the instrument board is divided in two parts by a removable shelf, its total volume is 33 litres. Small objects may be stored in shelves under the seats of driver and travelling companion. In the luggage space there is a couple of lockable boxes.

      The instrument board look may be a bit unaccustomed, because all instruments are "removed" into a handsome chapel in the middle. By the way - this excess is successful used in the smaller Renault Twingo, it has however a prosaic reason. The eyes trajectory from the road to the instruments is so shorter than usually, this could be available in case of operation safety. Except classical instruments contents the digital display also audiosystem readings full checked by a remote control located under the steering wheel. An additional reason why driver need not get the eyes from the road away. One thing which could resent is the absence of a speedometer. To good cheer during ride contributes the  instrument board a lighting controlled by a fader located under the steering wheel too. An available comfort implement is an air condition with separated control for the co-rider.

      With regard to the rather high available mass (1,630 kg) the engine has to do his utmost. For the 2,2 litre turbo-Diesel-engine there were no problems thanks to a high turning moment (234 Nm / 2,000 r.p.m.). He let one hear a pleasant deep sound, very well damped by used insulation materials. He achieved to move an loaded car of almost two ton weight in that way, that some passenger car drivers unbelievably stared at it. The chassis proved very grateful attributes. Even in curves Espace doesn't too much incline and he gets gliding over unevennesses. The brakes - ABS of course - proved in usual traffic a good efficiency together with a grateful braking-effect succession. But after a higher load there was a  fatigue evident. It was given by inconvenient even though very nice styled wheel covers and consequently worse cooling of brake disks. Diesel oil consumption during the whole test was about 8-11,5 l/100 km, which is rather sufficient.

 Price of tested car : CZK 1.007.000.--

Consumption of fuel during the test   
Espace 2,2 dT
urban cycle 9,4 l/100Km
extra urban cycle
(respecting the rules
50, 90, 130 Km/h)
8,1 l/100Km
sportive ride 11,3 l/100Km


At the end there is a duty to determine a winner of this duel:
(max 5, min. 1 points)
Espace 2,2 dT
bodywork (design) 5
riding characteristics 3
brakes 3
engine 5
gearbox 3
consumption 4
luggage department 5
interior, control elements 5
price 2
total 37

(Text Viktor Kazda & foto Petr Havlicek)