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First drive: Renault Grand Espace 2.0 dCi – on sale now



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Appearances can be deceptive. Renault’s Grand Espace is huge on the outside and huge on the inside – big, comfy cabin seats and executive levels of leg and headroom.

But drive it for a few miles and it’s easy to forget this is a full size, seven-seat MPV; it drives like a much smaller car.

Part of the illusion is down to the light steering, which makes town driving a doddle. And there’s the exceptional 2.0-litre 175bhp diesel engine, launched in February as part of the car’s most recent update, which powers the car along with surprising ease.

Actually, that should be alarming ease – real care and attention is needed to avoid licence-losing speeds on the motorway, so smooth and refined is the engine.

The Espace’s internal layout is different, with aircon controls on the driver’s door and the huge dashboard concealing plenty of storage compartments. The main instruments are off-centre, while a simplistic iDrive-styled central console controls sat-nav and radio/CD.

Nice touches include the pull-out section on the sun visor, which covers that annoying gap above the rear-view mirror where the sun always shines.

Dislikes? The electronic handbrake control is a bit fiddly and the car is afflicted with Renault’s annoying clicky indicator sound.

Car magazine calls Espace the “Rolls-Royce of MPVs”. It’s a spot-on description.

Price: £33,150 (Initiale trim)
Engines: 2.0-litre 175bhp diesel Performance 0-62mph 10sec; top speed 127mph
Transmission: Six speed manual
Efficiency: 38.2mpg; 200g/km CO2
Rivals: Ford Galaxy, Citroën C8, Mitsubishi Grandis, VW Touran
Strength: Engine, light steering
Weakness: Hand brake, indicators
Opportunity: Halo for MPV range
Threat: Price may put off buyers
USP: ‘The Rolls-Royce of MPVs’

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