Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The bulk of Espace models are chosen with a four-cylinder diesel engine. Choices when this generation was launched included a 120bhp 1.9 dCi or a 150bhp 2.2 dCi, and the 2.2-litre is the more satisfying drive, offering smooth performance and a decent turn of speed when needed. All four-cylinder models come with six-speed manual gearboxes. Automatic transmission is also offered on the 2.2 dCi, and both petrol and diesel V6 models are auto-only.

Petrol engines comprise both normally aspirated and turbo-charged 2.0-litre units, as well as a 245bhp 3.5-litre V6 - a detuned version of the engine used in the Nissan 350Z. Changes for 2006 include a new 2.0-litre dCi available in 150bhp and 175bhp versions. The higher power version feels almost as quick as the V6 diesel while the 2.2 dCi remains in the line-up fitted with an automatic transmission.

The V6 diesel is also upgraded for 2006 with a slight increase in power and torque plus a six-speed automatic transmission.

Although the Espace excels on the motorway, it is not as unwieldy on twisty roads as you might expect. The comfort-biased ride soaks up bumps on all but the worst roads and the light steering makes it easy to keep the Espace on its set course. There isn't much to delight the driving enthusiast, but it is safe and composed.