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When we found out we were pregnant I saw it as the perfect opportunity to go into childminding and with this idea planted firmly in my brain we decided to look into MPV s(Multi Person Vehicles).
After having looked at several different models on the internet we decided to go over to Available Car in Castle Donnington to compare them 'in the flesh' so to speak.
Going up and down the rows of vehicles we started to get blurry eyed as we looked at one similar MPV after another then WHAM!
Out of the darkness came light!!!
Ok that might sound a little OTT but there were only two Renault Espace's there and both my partner and I fell in love.
The Renault Espace 2.0ltre Expression was so very different from all the other MPVs that were lined up.
The outside shape with its clean lines and smooth contours os a joy to behold - somehow oozing confidence in what was inside.
The inside was a revelation.
Many of the MPVs we had looked at were squashed and offered very little leg room. They also allowed very little manouverability with seating with the rows rather than the seats acting as a unit.
The Renault Espace has 7 individual seats which can all be moved or removed seperately from each other. The driver and front passenger seats are comfortable and offer plenty of legroom with the driver's seat having an adjustable lumbar support to afford more comfort whilst driving. Embedded into the back of these seats are 'airline' table trays for the two outer middle row seats.
Moving back through the vehicle to the middle and rear seats you will find 5 seats which are very comfortable. Each seat can be moved forward or backwards, turned to face either rearward or forward, have headrests and three point ISOFIX seatbelts. The back supports can be reclined for more comfort or can be fully adjusted forward to give a 'table'.
Each of these seats can be removed from the vehicle totally.
There is plenty of storage in the vehicle with cubby holes across the dash area and a 'secret' hideaway section under the floor mats (although I may have just given the game away!) and these cubby holes are present throughout the vehicle.
There are 12v adapters available for all three rows and the air conditioning is freely available to all rows via 'aircraft-like' vents which can be closed or adjusted accordingly.
The dashboard no longer exists in it's traditional format of dials and guages in front of the driver. Everything you need to know now appears in a digital strip giving a clear, legible reading. There is an awful lot of information available to you at the push of a button ranging from how many miles per gallon the vehicle is currently doing to how many miles left before your tank is empty.
There is a multi change CD player in the vehicle and all the controls for this are on the steering wheel or via the remote control that is supplied.
Our particular model is an automatic with cruise control and takes unleaded fuel. The cruise control is excellent - if you have never used it before - and can ensure that you never get caught by speed cameras again - simply set it to the speed you need to be travelling at and hey presto - no more speeding by accident.
What else can I emote about? hmm - so many good things to think of......
Oh yes - the safety element is very high with Airbags around the vehicle and a child lock button that negates the need for fiddling with the doors like we had to do in the good ol' days.
We paid £11,000 for our 03 plate car and have been extremely happy with it ever since although I bellieve that they retail at slightly more than that normally as used vehicles.
We have added a roof box which allows us the space for several buggies (we had 4 adults and 3 children needing car seats and prams in it recently) and that has been the only drawback - we now struggle to park in city centres but as we don't go into them that often we don't really mind that much. *Addition and amendment of recommendations...
I have actually now had my opinion of the Espace greatly reduced following one technical difficulty after another.
Within less than 3 months of getting the car the turbo went whilst my husband was driving it. It was still under the sellers warranty so I took it to Renault for them to deal with. They stated that the reason the turbo had gone was because it was oil starved however we had had no indication at all that the oil levels were low. They then changed their story and advised me that it was a low grade oil that had been used. The car then spent 6 weeks on Renault's ramp whilst we argued who was responsible for its repair. Eventually Renault and my dealer agreed to go halves on the cost of the repair.
Another time I made the mistake of running out of petrol one dark night and whilst waiting for help to arrive I sat in my car with the hazards on. This then prioceeded to flatten the battery (as it does and I know I was thinking how daft I had been as it happened). On adding the petrol I hoped the car would restart - it didn't do anything so I called out the breakdown services who promptly jump started my car.....only to default the entire display unit back to French. Worse still it zeroed the milegage that the car had done! I obviously took the car directly to Renault to get everything corrected and they eventually found the fault and reset the dashboard however they could not reset the mileage so we started again from zero. If you are looking at an Espace with seemingly too good to be true mileage then the possibility is that it is too good to be true and something similar may have happened.
The childlock for the back seats is in the armrest of the drivers door. Not really a good place for it to be as I found out one day whilst waiting at a roundabout and the rear door flew open with some help from my 2 year old daughter as I had inadvertantly pressed the button to off.
We kept the car for about 18 months and decided to part exchange it for another MPV after we seemed to be paying out month after month for technical problems which our local garage was unable to deal with as they were Renault only repairs and the service we got from Renault was attrocious.
All in all the whole experience has put me off buying from Renault in any form ever again and when we did swap the car we had lost £8000 in the 18 months we'd owned it.