Renault has presented the Initiale Paris concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Its design gives us a preview of the next-generation Espace’s design. However, it won’t be offered in the UK because of the poor sales of large MPVs in this market. The concept is believed to be very similar to the final Espace production design.
The concept’s roofline is lower. Its dimensions are slimmer and its ride height is slightly raised. The goal of Renault is to be more competitive against SUVs, which have taken some of the market share away from the large MPVs.
In an Autocar interview, Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker said that the silhouette has been redesigned to offer a “more premium expression” and to raise the status of the range-topping model’s design. Renault designed the outgoing Espace to be spacious and have a light interior with a lot of headroom and a big glasshouse.
Since the third-gen Espace was launched in 2002, the market has leaned towards the more rugged image of the SUVs, with cabins that are more “technical” and that have the features of a cockpit. Van den Acker said that Renault has totally refreshed its design identity and that its concepts showcase its future.
He added that the concept’s roof is built from a piece of aluminium and pays a homage to Paris. The Initiale Paris name will be used as a luxury trim for certain models from 2014. The concept is a predecessor to the new Espace. The Initiale Paris concept is built on something similar to the current Espace’s extended-wheelbase. However, it’s considerably lower by about 90mm.
The main proportions of the upper body have been modified, pushing the base of the windscreen towards the rear to form separate windscreen and bonnet lines. This is a major change from the revolutionary one-box look that the Espace debuted in Europe in 1984. For about 10 years, it was the dominant car industry design trend.
The concept has just four seats but the production car will likely be available with a seven-seat option. Considering its tapering roofline and raised floor level, it seems that it won’t be a genuine seven-seater and is just a 5+2.
The driver will be seated in a sportier cockpit, with a cosier fascia and center tunnel. The Initiale Paris treatment will be seen throughout the Renault line-up in a series of special editions that use the same name, beginning with the Clio and Espace. It will also be offered on the Mégane. [source: Renault]