1988 Renault Espace TXE Injection 2.2i from Bulgaria


A dreamy spaceship, FULL of character and brio


Engine mounts broken. Cause: probably the oil leak from valve cover, leaking down to the engine mount. When the mount gave-up, it was on a traffic lights when getting going - result: engine hit the firewall, and the distributor cap (hidden at the very back of engine) smashed! Tow-service saved.

Clutch worn out. A really difficult task to change it, but fortunately dealer service was not that expensive.

Exhaust rear box fell off. Caused by previously broken engine mounts - the whole exhaust then moved forwards and caused the rear suspension to break the exhaust at the rear when going over a big pothole. Watch for engine mounts!

Driver seat fitting points cracked for no obvious reason. Welded for good :)

Rear wiper motor. No reasonable solution to date.

Head gasket replaced due to an oil leak. Always use original gasket!

Bypass valve (idle controller valve) suddenly caused HUGE problems. The engine juddered, caughed and the car became completely undriveable. A second-hand bypass valve off a VW GOLF cured the problem (they are all basically the same, except pipe fitting angle).

Switchgear for the electric windows. One of the switches was replaced with the one from the left-hand door (swapped places), and now it is fine. Weird???

All 4 switches on the dashboard are scalding hot every time you touch them. Have to look at it still.

Steering column bearings failed. A common ESPACE fault I assume. Causes a really unpleasant wobbling of the steering wheel in your hands. Cost peanuts to change. A DIY job.

Water temperature sensor died. The car started to run on choke-mode and consumed LOTS of fuel. Bought a new one from original RENAULT dealer and problem cured. Cost me a relatively reasonable 55 EUR.

Front discs. A normal thing at 190,000kms.

Rubber bellows for the front CV joints are about to crack. Changing them soon.

Rather expected things (most of them) for a 12 year, 190.000km car, but now it is almost completely ready for a new life.

Repair costs relatively acceptable here in Bulgaria. I would not buy this car if I lived in West. Europe. Except if I had space to perform Do-It-Yourself jobs.

General Comments:

Fantastic to drive! Quiet, roomy, predictable and safe.

Ergonomics could be better - especially drivers' foot placement.

Handling & steering marvelous - almost a real sports car hidden underneath. Little wonder, having that F-1 like front double wishbone suspension design, (a MATRA unique design)

Brakes could be better - especially that the rear discs & calipers seem to be seized on my car. ABS working perfectly.

Heating & ventilation really effective.

Gearbox & command perfect.

Front seats are rotational and that makes a huge fun when resting inside car.

Fiberglass body completely rust proof, and the hot galvanised chassis underneath proves to be rust-free even after 12 years spent on German roads, salty in winter (I bought this car from Germany).

My car has a special factory-fitted front spoiler for high autobahn speeds (it is a German-spec car) which makes 190-200 kph an easy & safe speed. A very fast car this is. With the 2.150cc, 109 HP engine, it can outperform some warm hatches from 0-100 kph acceleration!!

I have been wanting an Espace all my life and now it is a dream come true.

It is rather complicated and potentially expensive to maintain (especially if you do not do DIY, but its charm & effectiveness make it a real pleasure to own/drive.

I would buy another one definitely, but only a well-chosen second-hand bargain - I think it does not deserve to pay 40000 EUR for a new one (unless you are a company executive). My next ESPACE will be a well-chosen Generation II.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th October, 2002