The Espace is a name of great historic importance for Renault. It’s been almost thirty years since the company with the rhombus logo launched the very successful first-gen model, and now, due to pressure exerted by the industry, they have chosen to rethink the formula behind the model, to keep it relevant in a sea of practical crossovers that are really blurring the lines between the classes of vehicles we’ve grown accustomed to.
A preview of Renault’s idea for a new and more relevant Espace is the Initiale Paris concept – it really is a preview, as they themselves state it, so we need not speculate any more regarding this matter anymore.
It “illustrates the sixth petal in the design daisy, Wisdom, expressing open-mindedness,” or in other words, it’s the sixth model in their most recent line of concepts, each of which gets its own unique underlying design theme.
The vehicle measures 4.85 meters in length and according to the manufacturer it has “the vitality of a saloon, the character of an SUV with the the light and space of an MPV.” In other words, it’s their idea for a large crossover, but they’re keen to point out that it also announces their intentions in the premium sector too.
The design, done under the watchful eye of Laurens van den Acker, is said to have both architectural and aeronautical references implanted in it. So, aside from the usual cues taken from planes (one of the oldest sources of inspiration for automotive designers,) the concept “also gives a nod to the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower, emblematic Parisian monuments.”
The French style continues inside, where they decided to use a lot of matte detailing, that includes satin chrome touches, as well as matte-finished. It’s quite pretty, and may inspire the design of this concept’s production spawn, but we won’t grow too attached to it, because it will only add to our disappointment when we will see the sea of plastic of said production model. That would be a pity, because it looks unique, thanks to non-automotive design references, like high-end outdoor furniture and the typical French quirks that ever so often get past the committees and we get to see them too.
Power is provided by the firm’s dCi 130 engine, which displaces 1.6 liters and as its name suggests makes 130 PS. Its torque output has been enhanced, though, and it offers 400 Nm – the kind of pulling power reserved for large V6 diesels but a decade ago… This is achieved through the use of a twin-turbo setup, common for other automakers, but rarely (never?) used on engines that have this small a capacity.
The gearbox is Renault’s new EDC dual-clutch, and it too has been enhanced with the inclusion of Shift-by-Wire control, a system which is said to have been borrowed from the glitzy world of F1 – it “enhances the precision and smoothness of the controls through better-controlled effort,” though we’re afraid we don’t exactly know what that one means.
By Andrei Nedelea