The New Renault Espace - Dynamics and Safety | Part Two

Dynamics New Espace has the same front suspension system as Laguna and Vel Satis, offering better control of drifting on bends, plus a brand new rear suspension system. The tendency to understeer sometimes found in MPVs is reduced and the car responds much more directly to driver inputs.

New Espace features the choice of 16-inch, 17-inch or even 18-inch wheels, and is equipped with Emergency Brake Assist and ESP with understeer control logic. By simultaneously braking two wheels and reducing engine torque, the system puts the vehicle back on course in the even of understeer.

Safety

Whatever the version, New Espace provides the same high level of safety for all occupants. Eight airbags are fitted to the vehicle, including chest airbags in the second row – a first in the MPV segment. A dual pretensioner system (over the shoulder and across the pelvis), already fitted to the driver's seat, is now used in the front passenger seat as well. In the event of an impact, it prevents the occupant from hitting the dashboard. The rear seats, which have three-point seat-mounted safety belts, are also fitted with an anti-submarining bar.

Like Laguna and Vel Satis, New Espace has Emergency Brake Assist fitted in addition to ABS, to help reduce stopping distances. Another safety feature is the tyre pressure monitoring system which detects slow punctures.

Engine Room

New Espace is available with six different engines, and is the only MPV to offer a choice of two six-cylinder engines. The 3.5 V6 24V petrol unit, which develops 245bhp and torque of 330Nm at 3,600rpm, is the most powerful in the segment, while the 3.0 dCi diesel engine, with a generous 180bhp and torque of 350Nm from 1,800rpm, is also unmatched in the category.

Two four-cylinder engines, 2.2 dCi 16V with common-rail direct injection (providing 150bhp at 4,000rpm and torque of 320Nm at 1,750rpm) and 2.0 16V (torque of 250Nm from 2,000 to 4,250rpm, with 165bhp at 5,000rpm) are particularly flexible and powerful, taking the New Espace range further upmarket. Two other four-cylinder engines, a 2.0 16V petrol unit (140bhp and torque of 191Nm from 3,750rpm) and a 1.9 dCi (120bhp and torque of 270Nm from 1,750 to 2,750rpm), round out the range, which is the biggest in the segment.

Two types of transmission are also available, depending on the engine - either a six-speed manual gearbox or five-speed Proactive automatic transmission with flickshift control.

Saloon Car Ergonomics

Renault's engineers changed the ergonomics of the cockpit, starting with the driver's position, to give New Espace the feel of a saloon car. The more spacious and contoured front seats have higher, thicker and more comfortable backs. They offer better lateral support and greater comfort, with seat depth increased by 10mm to 345mm.

The various seat adjustment possibilities (fore-and-aft, up and down, backrest angle and lumbar support), combined with reach and rake controls on the steering wheel, enable drivers of all shapes and sizes to find the perfect driving position. New Espace also has an "upright" steering wheel and a gear lever 40mm higher, while the distance from the floorpan to the front seat cushion has been reduced from 390 to 360mm.

Strongly influenced by Vel Satis, New Espace also incorporates technologies used in the top of the range using some original features such as the automatic parking brake, Xenon headlamps that operate on both full and dipped beam to provide even more powerful high-tech lighting. Other equipment includes the intelligent Carminat navigation system with foldaway screen, parking proximity sensor, rain and light sensors and the fuel filler flap with built-in cap.

In addition the Renault Card features the option of the automatic unlocking, locking and ignition system which allows the driver start the vehicle without inserting the card into the reader – a real top-of-the-range feature.

The New Espace goes on sale in the UK in February 2003. Prices are expected to range from £19,000 to £30,000 approximately.

Published 18 October 2002 Melanie Carter
 

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