2023 Renault Espace seven-seat SUV a chance for Australia

2023 Renault Espace seven-seat SUV a chance for Australia

Renault is set to relaunch the Espace name – which popularized the people mover in Europe 40 years ago – as an SUV later this year, but Australian plans are unclear.

the People carrier Renault Espace – which pioneered the category in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s – is due to be relaunched later this year as a family SUV with up to seven seats.

For Renault’s Australian showrooms, however, it has yet to be confirmed – and whether it would stand alongside or succeed the seven-year-old Koleos-family SUV, which has to be replaced.

“We will put our hand on anything that is available in right-hand drive provided it would be commercially viable,” said Glen Sealey, Renault Australia general manager drive.

If the decision is made to give the green light to the new Espace for Australia, drive expects local showrooms to follow at least 12-18 months behind Europe – where it’s set to launch in the second half of 2023.

The outgoing Renault Espace people mover.

“We are a long way from this study [of its feasibility for local showrooms]. For Australia we are typically 12 to 18 months behind so we have plenty of time,” said Mr Sealey drive.

If approved for sale, the new model would be the first Renault Espace to go on sale in Australia. Renault Australia has never offered a people mover larger than the Megane hatchback-based Scenic and Grand Scenic of the 2000s.

Launched in 1984, the original Espace was one of the first modern car-derived people movers in Europe – and soon popularized the concept across five generations, spawning waves of European and Japanese competitors.

However, people mover sales have declined over the past decade amid the rise of SUVs – with Renault Espace deliveries in 2019 down 85 per cent from 1999 figures.

The previous generation Espace – which was not built in right-hand drive – retained the people-mover body style offered since its launch in 1984, but introduced a higher ride height and some SUV styling cues.

Given that the Austral sits at the smaller end of the mid-size SUV category — and closer to a small SUV like a Nissan Qashqai or Mazda CX-30 — the new Espace’s third-row seats might not be as roomy as Espace People Mover from alt.

Competitors are likely to include upsized midsize SUVs with seven-seat options like the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, Peugeot 5008, Nissan X-Trail and Mitsubishi Outlander.

The new Renault Espace is partnered under the skin with models from Nissan and Mitsubishi – as well as the Austral and Nissan Qashqai – on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance’s CMF-CD architecture for mid-size family SUVs.

That likely means a range of three- and four-cylinder turbocharged engines with mild hybrid technology, or a full E-Tech hybrid model that claims to use around five liters of fuel per 100 km.

The arrival of the Renault Espace coincides with the seventh birthday of the existing Renault Koleos SUV – which is due to be succeeded by a new model but doesn’t appear to have a direct replacement.

The Renault Koleos’ twin, the Nissan X-Trail, entered a new generation in Australia last year, but it’s unclear if a new Koleos is on the horizon.

As previously reported by driveThe Koleos is safe until the end of 2024 – but its future beyond 2025 is unclear. The Espace could be a suitable replacement as it’s expected to be a similar size.

The current Renault Koleos.

However, it might not be possible to price the new model similarly – as the Koleos will be built in South Korea, while the Espace is expected to be made in Europe, which would incur higher shipping (and possibly manufacturing) costs.

Australia also has a free trade deal with South Korea – lifting the 5% import tariff – but it has yet to strike a similar deal with the European Union.

the 2023 Renault Espace is scheduled to launch in the Northern Hemisphere in spring 2023 (March to May) – which would likely correlate with the arrival of the first European showrooms in the second half of this year.

MORE:Find used Renault cars for sale
MORE:Find used Renault cars for sale
Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017 when he launched his own website Redline. He worked for Drive in 2018 before joining CarAdvice in 2019 and becoming a regular journalist on the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role in Alex’s life, from leafing through car magazines at a young age to growing up surrounded by performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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