Twenty-one years after the first Renault Espace lumbered onto the scene, the MPV pioneer, now in its fourth incarnation, continues to stun - with dazzling looks to complement the usual clever use of space this time round.

Twenty-one years after the first Renault Espace lumbered onto the scene, the MPV pioneer, now in its fourth incarnation, continues to stun - with dazzling looks to complement the usual clever use of space this time round.


The latest addition is a far cry from the first version launched in 1984 after Renault and Matra had decided in 1982 to jointly develop the newcomer. At the time, Renault was responsible for the product definition, design, powertrain and sales, while Matra took control of the Espace's development and production.


A 2,0-litre petrol model was launched amid much scepticism in 1984, but was later followed by a turbodiesel version in the same year. The revolutionary design incorporated a flat floor with five and seven independent seats, and composite bodywork to save weight.


The next-generation Espace was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1991 with further developments in the vehicle's modularity, particularly to the second and third seat rows.


The third-generation Espace, introduced in 1996, was decidedly more upmarket , with a plethora of new features, including a centralised digital display. To satisfy customers' demands for even more space, a Grand Espace, longer by 27 cm, was introduced in 1998.


The latest version is undeniably Renault, with its incorporation of the current style language popularised by its smaller Clio, Mégane and Scénic siblings. With its modern twist, the Espace's lines are much tauter and more angular than with the previous models. Short front and rear overhangs add to its beefy stance, despite dimensions of 4 861 mm (length), 2 104 (width) and 1 746 mm (height). It rides on a 2 868-mm wheelbase.


The fourth generation Espace is also the safest yet. In typical Renault style, it was the first large MPV to achieve the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP assessment.

To read more about the new Renault Espace and view the gallery click here.