The SUV craze continues in Europe, making left and right offerings among other body styles. For example, Renault has discontinued the midsize talisman in both sedan and wagon flavors while the latest Megane is an electric crossover. The EV joins the traditional ICE-powered models, which may not have a bright future either seeing how they’ve been removed from the UK lineup.
Another long-running nameplate, the Espace, can be reused for high-riding models if we rely on recent reports. Launched in 1984, the once wildly popular minivan is on its way out. More than two years ago, Reuters citing sources inside Renault about the movers of people living on his deathbed, along with Talisman. Production of the latter ended a few months ago, and Espace is likely not far behind.
However, the Espace name could live on. That brings us to today’s Austral spy photo, but with a larger body to accommodate the third row. Completely camouflaged, the boxy SUV was caught on a lunch break in Spain, unable to hide its longer rear overhang to create a more spacious interior for people or extra cargo.
It’s unclear how different the Espace will be compared to the Austral or whether Renault will use the same strategy that Peugeot adopted for the 3008 and 5008, which are nearly identical except for the size difference. Austral Espace or simply Espace, this seven-seater SUV is expected to target the same people who will buy the minivan.
Mechanically linked to the compact crossover that replaced the Kadjar, the larger version is also believed to come without a diesel engine. Mild-hybrid and full-hybrid petrol engines may be planned for more practical models, with up to 200 horsepower and a choice between a six-speed manual transmission or the same X-Tronic automatic transmission. The Austral’s four-wheel steering will be more useful for the Espace given the longer wheelbase, reduced turning circles.
The more spacious SUV looks like it already has a full production body. That said, it’s unclear when the official reveal is scheduled to take place. If Renault has accelerated the launch of the model, we might see it as early as next month on its home turf at the Paris Motor Show. Otherwise, Austral Espace/Espace will premiere in 2023.