The Renault Espace was the start of a completely new European car type, the MPVs. The model was launched in 1984 Renault proved that practicality could also be comfortable. And that his bodywork consisted of plastic panels that were mounted on the galvanized body? That was new too.
What a space!
Because: anyone who thought practical - outside the Randstad - would prefer a spacious, comfortable car. In 1988 the Randstad was not that full. However, spacious cars were often based on the lightest commercial vehicles. And there it went wrong with the comfort. The Renault Espace offered space and comfort. And that with the performance of the better middle class.
The Renault Espace was developed together with Matra by the British designer Fergus Pollock as the successor to the Matra Rancho. After that a kind of hop jump followed with Chrysler and Peugeot as supporting characters. Matra signed a cooperation agreement with Renault in 1982. The prototype P18 was created based on the Renault 23, from which the Renault Espace was developed, the first European MPV. Renault rationalized the design, took care of marketing and sales, and supplied the powertrain. Matra was responsible for production
In its time, the Renault Espace actually had no real competition
The Mitsubishi Spacewagon and the Nissan Prairie were no more than approaches to the idea. And for many Europeans at the time, the Chrysler Voyager was simply "too American."
In its early days, the unique character of this revolutionary Renault was also widely recognized by the press. But in practice, several car journalists found a few things that they had reservations about. Thus the rear door could not be opened from the inside. And the heating was a bit under-sized in the then still harsh winters.
But the interior space of the Renault Espace measuring only 425 cm was phenomenal. There was no doubt about that. In the standard version, the car was delivered with five seats. Two extra seats were optional. But also with seven people loaded the Renault was a great travel companion.
The entry at the Renault Espace was fantastic
The passengers simply 'slide in'. This results in a sitting height that at the time demanded some habituation because of its height. But the additional traffic overview that gave the seating position was appreciated.
The seats behind the front two seats were mounted on a completely flat floor where the remaining furniture could be mounted. Incidentally, mounting was not optimal, because if a bolt ended up in the wrong mounting hole, it was quite a hassle to get it out again.
And what was seen as a nuisance was that the rear seats could not be 'turned'. The front seats could, they had a 'conference position'. In that position, the fifth chair became a table. Smart! We ourselves once missed the opportunity to turn the rear seats when we had to take pictures of a classic engine driving behind us from a Renault Espace. But we know for sure that there have also been fishermen who missed this opportunity during a rain shower.
To 'pimp' the Renault Espace, Renault presented the 'Boutique Brochure' with suitcases, bags and ... beds. The ordinary option list contained things such as sunroofs (two!), Nozzles on the headlights, alloy wheels and roof rails.
In the meantime, the early Renault Espace with their galvanized chassis structure and their plastic body parts are sought after - and highly usable - classics.