The big daddy Grand Espace is a bus of an MPV, it looks like it crashed to earth in a meteor, not only that but it shifts and I mean REALLY shifts. The 7 seater Grand Espace is a great luxury people carrier, however in the 6 seater formation I tested, it takes on a totally different slant and has somewhat of an upmarket limo-esque quality.
Inside its cavernous, it's the road going equivalent of G-A-Y but with leather seats and fewer crop-tops. The interior really is top quality and everything throughout all three rows of 2 seats is outstandingly well laid out, everything is where you would expect it to be. In the 6 seater layout there is also enough room for you and the boys to move around between the rows and it has to be said with the option extra entertainment pack putting TV and DVD players in the front headrests, you feel more like the captain of an airbus than the driver of an MPV.
Yes my press car was blinged up to the nines and had more kit than an S&M queen on his way to a "party". However most of the toys weren't optional extras but in fact standard spec, Bi-Xenon lights that steer round corners with you (op ex), Bluetooth, voice recognition Nav-Com system (voice activated Sat Nav to you or I), blinds, TV's, privacy glass, A/C throughout the entire car, leather, front / rear parking sensors, CD stacker / MP3 player complete with remote controller, I mean the list just goes on and on.
So it's got great spec and it looks good, which is always an added bonus, however the Grand Espace's secret weapon is hidden out of sight and out of mind. Describing it as a "sleeper" would be an understatement! Nobody you stop next to at lights will ever expect you to leave them standing, jaw open, but that's just what happens if you put your foot down into the thick carpet under the accelerator.
The 3L turbo diesel unit in my test car was phenomenally good, almost breathtaking with its unexpected speed at times. What's more the Espace is no longer a barge which rolls round corners, actually pushing the car through bends it feels firm and controllable. Yes of course there's some body roll, its 37ft tall, 4 miles wide and longer than a 'I'm deep and just misunderstood' emo queens Gaydar profile for gay gods sake. But never the less it still handles very well for its size and new six-speed auto gearbox in the top of the range Initiale I tested was superb, giving smooth gear changes up and down the range and plenty of power at pretty much any speed.
It's worth pointing out that you do have the driving position of a long distance trucker and being cosseted behind all that glass means you can also see clearly (now the rain has gone dum de dum..) for miles around in any direction. This of course makes the car much easier to drive as black-spots from the drivers view are pretty non-existent.
Overall I think the Espace is probably the best big MPV on the market, it is pricey especially when you start really going mad with the non-essential optional extra's, but I think it offers a truly different slant on the 'I need a bus' MVP's and is well worth looking at if you need a 6/7 seater or even a 5 seater with a massive boot.