The third generation Espace arrived in 1997, with the long-wheelbase Grand Espace coming to market the following year. The most notable feature of the Espace III was the radically futuristic interior (including an elongated and centrally-mounted dashboard, digital speedometer and radio/CD display). The Espace III featured a plastic (GRP) body over a galvanised independent steel chassis. The Espace III shared much of its running gear with the Laguna of the same era. As stated elsewhere, although Renault-badged, the Espace III was Matra built. A number of third generation Espaces were used as bases for NGV and taxi conversions for the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Kuala Lumpur Sentral transportation hub in Malaysia, rebranded as Enviro 2000s.
The third-generation Espace was the last to be built by Matra and indeed the last automobile. Following an end to production of the Espace III for Renault, Matra and MG Rover discussed a possible deal for the latter to build and market Espaces but it failed to happen.
Espace III J66/JE
2.0 (122 cui)
Performance 84 kW (114 PS) . Torque 177 Nm (131 ft/lb) . Max speed 176 km/h. Acceleration 14.0 s ~ 0-100 km/h. Weight 1 565 kg. Fuel gasoline. 5-speed Manual transmission. Engine 1 998 ccm (122 cui), 4-cylinder, In-Line, 8-valves, 851.