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Renault Espace under Australian consideration

Changing places: Renault’s pioneering Espace people mover will adopt crossover cues as the 2014 redesign goes global to broaden appeal (current model pictured).

Next-generation Renault Espace to take on crossover cues and go global

1 Oct 2012


RENAULT’S Espace is in with its best chance yet for Australian consumption with news that the next-generation model due in 2014 will go global with a “more international appeal” garnering SUV and crossover styling cues.

According to Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar, while the new Espace is still some way off, he is not closed to the idea of an affordable and appealing seven-seater crossover to pitch against the likes of the Toyota Kluger.

“We will look at what is being offered and consider the business case,” he told GoAuto in Paris this week.

Mentioned by Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn at a Paris motor show media conference last week as being a massive change from what has come before, the French people mover will appear within the next two years in all-new fifth-generation guise.

“We are going to renew it in 2014, and the concept is great. We have not renewed for a while but what is coming will be very strong,” Mr Ghosn said.

35 center imageLeft: Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Renault insiders are saying that the series will move closer to a crossover than the existing nine-year old version, with a beefed-up stance, more flowing lines, and a higher driving position in the vein of three-row SUVs.

While the famous one-box (monospace) silhouette pioneered by the 1984 original will again be employed in an albeit reinvented fashion wearing 21st century apparel, the French company has decided to move away from the van-like appearance that has come to define the series until now.

According to Renault head designer Laurens Van den Ackers, who helped shape the upcoming Mk5 version, the writing has been on the wall for people movers for some time now.

“The new Espace is done for us, we have finished it, and it will come out in 2014,” he told the Australian media in Paris last week.

“But we did feel that to do an Espace V in the line of the previous Espace may not have been the right answer. The market is changing completely, the segment is changing completely.

“The MPV segment as it is, is actually a declining segment, and we’re seeing that people are leaving their MPVs to buy SUVs or crossovers.

“So that, combined with the fact that we wanted to be more international with that product (which until now has been Europe-only) is economically not a wise strategy.

“So we’re looking at those two trends (SUV and crossover), and that has influenced greatly the new Espace concept.”

However, the drivetrain is expected to retain the front-engine, front-wheel drive layout, while diesel as well as petrol powerplants will be offered.

Developed by Matra and originally intended for arch rival Peugeot before being rejected as too risky, the first Espace concept was sold to Renault in the early 1980s, culminating in the launch of the cutting-edge original in 1984.

None have officially been imported into Australia.

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