Although we’d naturally rather not dwell on the consequences of what might be, safety is an important factor when picking a car.
These days, a new car not getting the full five stars from Euro NCAP is headline-worthy news. Back in the early 2000s, such a rating was the exception. Renault made full use of this and the safety sells mantra by quickly building itself a reputation for making safe cars after the arrival of the Laguna in 2001, and the 2002 Espace was something of a flagship.
The fourth iteration of the MPV was an in-house design, following 22 years with Matra. It featured all sorts of cutting-edge passive safety tech to earn it one of the best scores awarded.
Every second- and third-row seat had an integrated seatbelt with Isofix mounts, plus there were dual-stage driver and passenger airbags that inflated at varying pressures depending on the size of the person, anti-whiplash headrests for all seats and a curtain airbag that covered all three rows – this no doubt being the major reason why the Espace didn’t lose any points in the side impact test.
So far so good, if not particularly exciting. Interest is found under the stubby bonnet, because you can find a Nissan-derived 3.5-litre V6 making 245bhp. No, it doesn’t give Nissan 350Z-like performance, given the Espace’s bulk and dozy auto ’box, but it sounds good on kickdown and won’t suffer all the EGR issues of the diesels or blow a turbo like the 2.0 petrol.
Our 2003 V6 Initiale car is up for £2999. That’s strong for an Espace, but it has done only 73,000 miles and doesn’t appear to have been trashed like most. It even still has the remote controller for the sat-nav.