Renault Espace preview hints at seven-seat Austral

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Renault’s Nissan X-Trail rival is slated for an unveiling mid-2023.

New images released by Renault appear to confirm that the new, sixth-generation Espace is an extended version of the Austral SUV.

The images, previewing the new Espace’s side profile and rear end, reveal a similar shape to the Austral as well as its front and rear lights.

The only difference appears to be the Espace’s raised and extended rear deck.

Renault has confirmed that the new model is 4.72 metres long, 0.19m longer than the Austral. This is also 0.04m longer than the new Nissan X-Trail, with which the new Espace shares its CMF-CD platform.

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As with the X-Trail, the Espace will be offered in five-seat and seven-seat configurations, with the former trading the third row for a more capacious boot.

Renault previously showed the new car’s gold badging, hinting that it will feature a hybrid powertrain. This set-up is likely to comprise the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and electric motor from the Austral E-Tech, combining to output 117kW or 147kW.

This yields up to 4.6L/100km on the WLTP combined cycle and emits 105g/km of CO2 – but these figures are likely to be slightly inferior in a larger (and likely heavier) model.

Cheaper but less efficient mild-hybrid units – producing 103kW and 117kW in the Austral – are also expected to be offered in the Espace.

The SUV will be revealed in the coming weeks, with sales likely to begin later this year in line with the Espace’s 40th anniversary.

The original car, the product of a collaboration with Matra, made its public debut in November 1983. It is often credited as the first European MPV, offering seven seats – of which the rear five were removable – and a completely flat floor behind the driver.

A second generation arrived in 1991, spawning a performance-focused four-wheel drive concept car featuring a 198kW twin-turbo engine, which would later be used in the Renault Safrane Biturbo.

A mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive Espace F1 – using the Renault V10 from a contemporary Williams Formula 1 car and capable of dispatching the 0-100km/h sprint in 2.8 seconds – was also developed.

The Mk3 Espace would be the last produced by Matra and informed the smaller, Mégane-based Renault Scénic MPV, which itself became a runaway hit.

Sales of the fourth-generation Espace slumped after recession hit Europe in 2008 and the introduction of an SUV-inspired model in 2015 did little to rekindle demand.

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