Flying under the radar in an era where the crossover is king, the Renault Espace nevertheless remains an attractive people carrier in its fifth generation. Now, five years into its lifecycle, this svelte MPV has received a facelift to increase its visual appeal still further, as well as a few choice technical updates.

The aesthetic tweaks are subtle, with the Espace maintaining the use of black body cladding and silver skid plates for a curious quasi-SUV look. At the front, the car is now offered with brighter adaptive matrix LED headlights with C-shaped daytime running lights, and while the basic bumper shape hasn’t changed, the inserts have been redesigned with a new chrome strip that stretches across the entire width.

At the rear, you now get a beefier skid plate to emphasise the rugged look, and come equipped with integrated twin exhaust outlets. New options include Vintage Red paint for the luxury Initiale Paris trim, along with redesigned wheels such as these massive 20-inch wheels for the aforementioned range-topping variant.

Inside, the modest changes continue on the centre console, with the climate controls (which feature discrete digital displays within the knobs) now separated from the 9.3-inch portrait touchscreen, as well as a larger storage compartment and a button for the new auto brake hold. The upholstery and trim options (including Nappa leather on the Initiale Paris) have also been updated, and there’s a new black colour scheme.

The facelifted Espace also gets the latest Easy Link infotainment system, which gets a more user-friendly customisable interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a navigation system with Google address search and fuel price and traffic information, automatic updates and the MY Renault smartphone app that allows the car to be controlled remotely. There’s also a new 10.2-inch digital instrument display.

Elsewhere, the optional Bose sound system has been updated with 12 more powerful speakers and five new modes to adjust the acoustic environment. Safety-wise, the Espace is now offered with the Highway & Traffic Jam Companion that incorporates the adaptive cruise control and lane centring to provide Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capability, plus pedestrian detection for autonomous emergency braking.

Under the bonnet, the Espace gets the latest petrol and diesel engines that meet WLTP standards, including the 1.8 litre TCe turbo petrol four-cylinder lifted from the Mégane RS and Alpine A110. It produces 225 PS and is paired to a seven-speed Efficient Dual Clutch transmission. On the oil-burning side, the 2.0 litre Blue DCi mill produces either 160 PS and 350 Nm or 200 PS and 400 Nm and is mated to a six-speed EDC.

The car continues to be available with 4Control rear-wheel steering and the Multi-Sense drive mode selector, but the adaptive dampers are now more efficient and deliver better stability when manoeuvring around obstacles. As before, the Espace is left-hand drive only, so it will remain a forbidden fruit for us Malaysians.