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USED CAR FOCUS Renault Espace- 1997 on

The car that started the 'people carrier' craze in the late 1980s is at the end of its third generation.

A radical replacement is due next year; it promises to be technologically advanced and more thoughtful in its use of space. But the current generation has built a following among middle-class families with its chic looks and aerodynamic profile. Whether the new model will inherit this is unclear - it's controversially styled, to say the least.

LINE-UP The standard Espace - available with either five or seven seats - is big enough for most families, but for a bit extra, buyers can go 'Grande' and gain an extra 10 inches in length and three in height. This gives the Grande Espace better load carrying capabilities - or extra legroom - without removing seats.

Up against the Ford Galaxy, Toyota Previa and Peugeot 806, Espace looks a little pricey. But it is very clever with cabin space, quite reliable and an all-round good drive. Buyers can look forward to class-leading residual values; best performing are the 2.2 diesels, which are quiet and pleasant to drive.

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