Renault Espace Disowns Minivans, Will Join the SUV Crowd With 5 and 7-Seater

1 week, 5 days ago - 25 January 2023, autoevolution
Renault Espace Disowns Minivans, Will Join the SUV Crowd With 5 and 7-Seater
When it comes to automotive heresies, nothing may ever beat Mitsubishi calling an SUV the Eclipse Cross.

Even if many car buyers do not remember what the Eclipse was, those that loved the coupe may still refuse to refer to the current SUV as such. Despite that, what Renault plans to do with the Espace is a lot more symbolic.

The Renault Espace is considered one of the very first minivans (or MPVs). The French automaker used to say it was the very first until Chrysler disputed that, stating the Dodge Caravan arrived earlier. The fact is that the Renault Espace helped to make them popular in Europe, anticipating vehicles that were also very popular: Renault Mégane Scénic, Opel Zafira, Citroën Picasso, and a long etcetera.

When Renault disclosed Espace would be the name of a new SUV that would seat 5 or 7 people, it tried to justify that. According to the French automaker, the Espace “is above all else comfortable, innovative and top of the range.” We’re curious to check how an SUV can be innovative.

That shows Renault was preparing for some backlash with the name choice. Calling this Espace the sixth generation of the MPV is a stretch, and the company knows that. The change is so profound that there is no way to connect the new Espace with the previous ones. As far as we know, Mitsubishi did not try to do that with the Eclipse Cross: the old and the new are completely different cars despite having the same name.

The deal is that the former Espace died because the market does not want minivans anymore. Apart from a few exceptions, every carmaker is trying to offer the same versatility minivans had in a body that people want to purchase. Despite what Vincent Cobee thinks, SUVs and crossovers are what customers currently want.

The new Espace will use the same platform as the late Talisman: the CMF-CD. Curiously, the fifth-generation Espace had the same underpinnings. We suppose the current CMF-CD has improvements over the one the minivan presented eight years ago.

Renault only added that the new Espace is a vehicle designed for long journeys, that it will have its world premiere in spring 2023, and that it is “a car of its time.” At first, we had the impression that the Grand Austral could get the Espace name, but the 5-seater derivative confused us.

It may be the case that the elongated Austral body will offer a larger trunk that may have a second row of seats. We can certainly see similarities between the Austral and the teaser images for the Espace – check the taillights. After all, developing a new SUV on the same platform would be strange. At the same time, calling a longer Austral Espace would kill the last bit of dignity that the name still had: instead of a respected MPV, it is the longer Austral derivative. That’s very little for a car that was once a benchmark.