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PARIS First look: Renault Espace



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Scheduled to arrive in UK showrooms next January, the fourth generation Renault Espace marks a continuing elevation of the pioneering people carrier which first appeared in 1984.

Renault has moved the car upmarket as it looks to stem the flow of people defecting to premium-badged SUVs like Mercedes' M-class and BMW's X5.

Abandoning the plastic body and Matra production base near Calais, Espace IV features a steel 'monospace' shell and is based on Renault's shared Laguna and Vel Satis platform.

From the 2.0-litre Authentique at £20,000, the seven-seater Espace climbs higher than before in price, specification and power. The range-topping 3.5-litre, V6 (Nissan-derived) Initiale will cost around £32,000. Buyers will also be able to choose a 180bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, borrowed from Vel Satis, which has a raft of options including a radar cruise control system.

The shift upmarket should reflect in customer choice with Renault UK estimating a 30/70 split between long-wheelbase Grande and standard wheelbase versions.

New Espace will only be sold through Renault's expanding network of Premier centres.

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