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Paris show: Renault reveals smooth new Espace

Left bank: Only left-hand drive production is planned for the new fifth-generation Espace, despite Renault Australia’s pleas.

Renault goes crossover with new Espace, but Aussies should not get too excited

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Renault logo26 Sep 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

AUSTRALIANS need not hold their breath for the arrival of Renault’s sleek new Espace people-mover in this market, as right-hand drive production is not on the radar.

The sleeker and less boxy crossover van – in both five- and seven-seat configurations – will take a bow at next week’s Paris motor show alongside the fuel-sipping EOLAB light hatchback concept.

As expected, the latest five-door Espace closely follows the lines of the Initiale Paris concept that was revealed a year ago at the Frankfurt motor show.

And despite considerable interest from right-hand drive markets, including Australia, Renault has confirmed the new fifth-generation Espace – dubbed Espace V in France – will only be built in left-hand drive.

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar has often told GoAuto of his wish to add the new Espace to his local portfolio, saying the new design – more of a crossover than a standard family van – would suit this market.

However, Renault has ruled that potential sales volumes from right-drive production do not add up.

In Europe, the Espace has been regarded as one of the benchmark family buses for 30 years, and the new model looks set to add to that solid reputation.

Renault promises “ingenious interior modularity” in the interior layout, which presumably means a flexible seating arrangement.

“A brightly-lit, comfortable and modular interior are the cornerstones of the new Espace which will also appeal thanks to fluid lines, as well as to its occupant-friendly cabin and floating centre console,” the French company says in its brief press release accompanying images of the new vehicle.

“Meticulous attention has been paid to detail with regard to the new car’s design and build.”

Most of the sheet metal appears to be similar if not identical to that of the Initiale Paris show car, although some of the more fanciful touches, such as rear-hinged “suicide doors” have made way for more practical, conventional rear-opening back doors.

No dimensions have been provided yet, but the concept was 4850mm long, making it longer than French competitors the Citroen C4 Grand C4 Picasso (4590mm) and Peugeot 5008 (4529mm), but 33mm shorter than the Dodge Journey/Fiat Freemont twins.

The new Espace reportedly will be built on the same Renault Nissan Alliance CFM1 modular platform as the new Nissan X-Trail, thus becoming the first Renault to get these underpinningsEuropean reports suggest it will get a choice of four-cylinder turbocharged engines in both diesel and petrol.

The Espace and the hybrid EOLAB concept – a rolling laboratory for fuel-saving technologies and possible pointer to the next Clio – will be unveiled by Renault Nissan Group chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn, who is expected to spell out production plans for the Espace at that time.

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