A Good photo for Friday: 1997-2002 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V

Before going on with this, I have to confess I have doctored the photo. As I took the photo there cycled past a man in fluorescent orange. He was right over the roof of the car in the un-altered image.

1993-1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V (modified)
1993-1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V (modified)

Twenty seconds later he was gone and the road reverted to the desolate, unpopulated and grimly suburban stillness that prevailed. If I had been more alert, I could have waited a few seconds and then taken a genuine photo of a desolate, unpopulated and grimly suburban street. For that reason I don’t have a very bad consciousness about removing the cyclist who I could have avoided having in the first place merely by waiting.

This level of photographic massage is a long way off removing the population of Russia from a group photo with Stalin because he has had them all executed for falling out of favour. And I am admitting it as well. Mostly I only crop photos and seldom mess with any parameters like saturation or contrast.

1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V
1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V

Actually, I did once also remove a daft warning sign that poked out of a lake over the roof of a Citroen Cactus I once drove. That really was cheating. Sorry.

1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V
1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V

I find most photography is unrealistic and I don’t want to be on the saturation and contrast bandwagon. Now and again “tonal” helps if light levels are poor. That’s as much editing as I want to do.

Getting back to the Renault. I took this car for granted at the time it arrived. What I find to be worth reflecting on now is that Renault took a lot inspiration from Fiat with their use of fabric in the interior: the Mutipla paved the way and maybe the Ypsilon did too. The dashboard is incredibly curvaceous, swoopy and daring yet avoids the bland formlessness that set-designers for Star Trek usually reach for. This is super French design, classless modernism – as classless as a 3.0 V6 car ever can be.

Curvy and elaborate: 1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V
Curvy and elaborate: 1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V

You often hear people expressing admiration for the thirty-year old Merc (that’s a W-123) as a vehicle for travelling in discrete opulence. To some extent that’s true yet to move things up to date, a car like this Espace is a perfect way to enjoy sufficient power, masses of space and the high-riding position that lures so many to the world of CUVs. You’d really want this car for its interior though, more than the exterior. Overall I quite like it despite the way it doesn’t quite hang together.

Like the Opel Omega estate, that boot to body shutline is messing with the C-pillar. I tried to remove it to see how it would look and discovered I needed to extend the side glass a bit. So, the C-pillar is a bit weak. And the droopy line of the grille aperture is also unsuccessful. I did not like it in 1997 and I like it less now. Still: these were great load luggers, worthy successors to the likes of the CX Safari and Volvo 940 estate.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

9 thoughts on “A Good photo for Friday: 1997-2002 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V”

  1. I like that car’s colour. They don’t make anything like this any more.

    There are many examples for great Renault interiors. I knew this Espace’s successor, which was very airy and spacious inside, with a distinctly modern design language. The only downside was the high-mounted floor (or too low placed seats) in the passenger area that led to a somewhat uncomfortable seating position with very bent knees. I don’t know if the Espace generation you photographed was better in this respect.

    1. Truth is leaving the image unmolested, for me. I don’t like fiddling with saturation, levels or contrast. Anything really. I will crop and compose but the remaining image is still as it was when part of the original whole.

    2. I see your point, but what is the “original whole”? Is there really anything like it? There are bits and bytes. And there is always conversion and alteration, either automatic (what is a JPEG other than an altered RAW?) or manually.

      So for me the question of truthfulness in photography isn’t answered with a hands-off approach.
      Maybe we need to turn to Gestalt theory for an answer… (again)

  2. Will I get banned for stating that I’m no big fan of PLQ’s flirtation with organic/soft design in the mid-90s? I liked its predecessor and love its successor, but that particular Espace doesn’t do anything for me. And neither does the Mégane Mk I, I’m afraid. The Laguna Mk I was okay and the Twingo, obviously, a triumph, but back in the day I really felt as though they’d messed up the Espace.

  3. I liked all the Espaces, and am also OK with what they have done (had to do!? – given market trends) with the latest version. My favourites were the original and the car that followed the one depicted. I do very much like the interior on this version, though.

  4. The series 3 was the last Matra made Espace featuring GRP panels over a galvanised structure. The series 4 was conventional in structure. In theory the original Espace structure offered interesting possibilities for simple rebodying – there was even talk at one time I seem to remember of being able to remanufacture the Espace on its old bodyshell. Of course none of this came to anything, neither did another of the Phoenix Consortium’s schemes to reskin the outgoing Series 3 Espace in order to give Rover an MPV on the cheap. Actually, that sounds like one of their better ideas, preferable to a crude rebodied Tata or their vanity sports car. And another parallel existence for the Espace was the natural gas powered Malaysian “Enviro 2000” taxi

    The Espace driving position was never that great. Although the whole vehicle had a great feeling of space and airiness, my Series 1 caused me to drive with my knees bent more that was comfortable for a long distance. A compromise from basing an MPV on a saloon platform I guess. The Toyota Previa with its underseat engine installation was a more ambitious solution, albeit for a larger vehicle that was more ponderous than the Espace..

  5. Kris: Some applications of PLQ´s organic theme worked quite well. The first Megane had a fascinating interplay of geometrical graphics and soft sculpting. It was wonderfully French in that it was rational and rich with character. The theme went wrong on the Safrane where there was not enough definition. I think most of his organic designs worked well, and the Espace shown here is perhaps the weakest of them after the Safrane. The interior more than makes up for it though.

    1. Richard. Only my respect for your opinions has caused me to try (again and again) to re-assess my antipathy to Megane 1. But, even if I can now see some good in it, I still don’t really get it. Actually, at the time, I assumed that it had originated before PLQ’s arrival and I was surprised (shocked) to realise later that he had instigated it. Possibly it, and Espace 3, show that his heart wasn’t really in his attempts to comply with the organic look of the early/mid 90s.

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