Likeable reliable versatility, but no sports car
Almost nothing beyond normal service items.
Renault PLIP alarm was rubbish. Failed at 9m old. Replaced under warranty. That failed at 9m too.
Original clutch pedal broke at 30,000 miles. Replaced with an improved design, which broke at 60,0000. Replaced with a redesigned Mk3, which broke at 90,000 miles. Replaced with a redesigned Mk4, which should last, much stronger.
Ignition failure at 45,000 miles due to burned connector block on the steering column. Fixed with chocolate strip and still fine.
Timing belt (kit) at 70,000 miles (do not neglect, you will lose your engine).
Clutch replaced at 80,000 miles.
Brake master cylinder replaced at 90,000 miles.
1 rear brake slave cylinder replaced, 1 engine mount, and alternator replaced at 90,000 miles.
ECU temp sensor replaced at 103,000 miles.
Aside from service replacement of various bits and pieces, very little has gone wrong in the 20+ years I've owned this car.
No major component issues at all, and no rust thanks to the plastic over galvanised structure & hefty proper chassis. It's not perfect:
The electrics can be a bit flaky (usually connectors).
Driving position is a weird offset crouch; the interior is comfortable but lower quality than it should be, and wears badly, aside from the seats.
Handling soggy when fully loaded, but surprisingly decent when not. Just don't expect rapid response; you have to think ahead more than with a normal car.
Will cruise happily at 80-90 mph, and 115 (on the clock - 105 mph in real life) is fine, but stay under 80 for best fuel consumption thanks to aerodynamics of a shed - 30 mpg is about as good as it gets, 22 mpg round town.
Lacks all modern passive safety features. Probably not a good car to have an accident in.
The worst aspect of all is that paint: lacquer peel is inevitable with the metallic colours, and resprays only buy you another 5 years.
The second worst aspect is Renault service. Huge bills, and the car became vastly more reliable once I reverted to DIY servicing.
Others have noted the unreliability of the rear wiper motor. Renault would just fit a new one, but really, take it apart and use some good waterproof grease in the gearbox and spindle, and it will give no more trouble. I did mine about 15 years ago...
The same goes for window actuator tracks, 20p of good grease or £120 Renault bits.
The radiator fan motor is another example. It's not designed to come apart, but a bit of ingenuity and a few drops of oil on the bearings and tack weld it back together = good as new.
The Espace is an incredibly versatile and useful car. I bought it when I had 3 small kids, and they are all grown up now. Fantastic for family travel with all the necessary junk, and room for grandma + dog too. With the rear seats removed, I've also had everything from bricks, furniture, dismembered trees to motorcycles in the back, and I'd struggle to live with any car that can't do all that.
Mine is shabby outside, the interior is so-so, but it uses no oil and starts whatever the weather. I am just about to replace a CV joint, its first, as the OE boot has cracked enough to get an advisory on MOT, and the front shocks are a bit tired.
Would I buy another Renault? Not after my experience of the dealer service. Nor would I buy a later Espace; they became more troublesome, more complex and shorter life.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 1st May, 2012