With traditional minivans falling out of fashion, the future of the Renault Espace is quite uncertain. However, a new report accompanied by a single spy shot suggests that the French automaker might have a future for the Espace nameplate, using it in a three-row SUV based on the recently unveiled Austral.
The Renault Espace is one of the minivan pioneers, spanning five generations since its debut back in 1984. The most recent model debuted in 2014 and got facelifted in 2020 adopting crossover styling cues, which didn’t prove to be enough to bring back customer interest. People are going crazy over SUVs, which can offer almost the same level of practicality as MPVs in combination with a more adventurous stance. Thus, Renault thought of a more drastic change in order to keep the historic nameplate alive and relevant for the future.
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The prototype was caught by our spy photographers in Spain after Renault engineers briefly took it out of the truck – which is why there is only a single photo. The model looks like the Renault Austral with a different roofline, and redesigned rear end, hinting at a longer and more practical variant with a three-row seven-seater layout, more headroom for the rear passengers, and more roof for their luggage.
The Austral’s sibling could also sport styling differences at the front, making it easier to tell them apart. It is safe to assume that the longer SUV would sit on the same CMF-CD architecture and share the range of electrified powertrains with the Austral. Rival models would include the Peugeot 5008, the VW Tiguan Allspace, the Skoda Kodiaq, and the Nissan X-Trail.
Sources from France claim that the new model could adopt the Espace name, although it is not clear if it will be called Austral Espace, or simply Espace. Earlier rumors suggested that Renault could use the nameplate in the passenger version of the Traffic, similar to what Opel did with the Zafira Life which is a sibling to the Vivaro LCV, but it seems that a different strategy has been chosen.
In any case, an indirect replacement for the fifth-generation Espace will be unveiled soon, since the model is set to be discontinued by the end of the year. Renault keeps its cards closed about the model but there is a chance we might see a debut at the 2022 Paris Motor Show, before a possible market launch in 2023.