This Espace doesn't look very different – what's new?
The Espace gets revised diesel engines for 2007, ensuring all now meet the Euro4 emissions standard. Quality takes a step forward, and there are new features such as a redesigned steering wheel. Otherwise, the Espace sticks to its brief, of carrying up to seven people and their luggage in comfort.
Any exterior changes?
You'll have to be an Espace addict to spot the funkier rear lamp graphics and new alloy wheel designs. Plump for the top-selling Dynamique trim and you'll get 17-inch alloys, chrome door handles and roof rails, and a body-coloured windscreen base.
Is it still as good at shifting the family?
Absolutely. It still has all the big storage compartments and cubbyholes of the old car. All the seats can be positioned every way you'd like them to - you can even turn the middle row around to create an office-type circle-of-friends space. You’ll be fine for room in the front and middle row of seats, but if you've been a bit lax on the family planning front, you'll need to work out which family members can fit best in the rear perches. Both legroom and headroom are reduced back there. The airy, spacious feeling makes the Espace a nice place to be.
What's it like on the road?
The Espace is relatively good around the bendy bits, especially considering its size. Sure the suspension is primed for comfort not cornering, but there's plenty of feedback letting you know when to back off, and the steering is very direct. At higher speeds, wind and road noise are quite noticeable. And there's a boom in the car that sounds like you've accidentally left a window open.
Talk me through the engines...
We tested the 175bhp 2.0-litre diesel. It's pretty refined and offers a nice turn of mid-range speed. There must be a diesel for everyone in the new Espace range, with 130, 140 and 150bhp fours, as well as the 3.0-litre V6 dCi. Three petrol engines are also offered: the 140bhp 2.0-litre, 170bhp 2.0 turbo and the 245bhp 3.5-litre V6.
Does the French build quality stereotype apply?
All the buttons and controls have a positive feel to them, more Audi than Renault. The plastic in the flimsy front glovebox has a thicker, sturdier feel to it, and everything seems better placed to survive attack from your little 'rascals'.
The tweaks should help keep punters interested in the Espace, even with the tough challenge of the new Ford Galaxy. It's a sensible, quality MPV with a broad engine line up including an impressive 175bhp diesel. But the wind and road noise will put some off, and if you're an enthusiast, the Galaxy is a sharper drive.