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Author Topic: Why didn't the Espace have 3 across seating?  (Read 5431 times)
macaroni
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Murena and Multipla - I like it 3 abreast!


« on: November 13, 2006, 12:51:25 pm »

In addition to my Murena, we have a Fiat Multipla in the household, bought primarily because of its 3 abreast seating.

It can accomodate 6 big adults and lots of luggage, but in a very short wheelbase.

Now, given Matras experience in seating 3 abreast, I wonder why the Espace didn't have such seating?

Did it need to be a 7 seater? Was there ever a 3 abreast prototype?

Just thoughts...
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Anders Dinsen
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2006, 01:02:11 pm »

The Espace was concieved as a comfortable, but extremely flexible vehicle. Flexibility was achieved by the flat floor and removable seating. I don't think it was concieved as a people carrier as such, this was only an added feature. Inspiration for the Espace came from the Rancho and the minivans that were beginning to appear in the US.

I don't think the three seats in the front would have fitted in the minds of the potential buyers Wink

The opposite question can be asked: Why was Murena (or rather Bagheera) fitted with three seats and not just two like other coupés? Cool

PS: I also think the Multipla is a great car. We considered it back in 1999 but settled on a Scénic which I suppose felt nicer somehow, but it was a great drive in corners Wink Most people seem to hate the Multipla Huh
« Last Edit: November 13, 2006, 01:05:18 pm by Anders Dinsen » Logged

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Lennart Sorth
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2006, 07:09:20 pm »

I think I have read that the Bagheera was given 3 seats abreast for two reasons - practicality and the fact that it would stand out and be special. Sort of the same mission as the Matra V12, if not 100% compettitive, then at least designed to have its characteristic screaming exhaust note. ("Musique")

I too have wondered why they abandonned the 3-abreast seating in the Espace. As it turned out, they could use the space for svivel-seats etc, and also the conservative layout would probably tempt more ordinary customers.

But being French, those sort of arguments don't normally constrain design - so it is still strange.

/Lennart
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Lennart.Sorth@matrasport.dk
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Anders Dinsen
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2006, 09:14:02 am »

It occurred to me while I was driving in this morning in my Espace J11 (phase 1 Espace) that when the switch happened to Renault, the engine was also turned around 90 degrees from a transversal setup to a longitudally mounted engine with the gearbox sticking out in the space that would have had to be used for the footwell for the middle seat - not to mention the fact that they would have had to move the gearlinkage.

That said, though - the early prototypes had the same middle console styling as the final model, showing that they didn't see it as a three-abreast-setup - but the Renault drivetrain would later have killed the idea had it popped up at a later stage. This setup was used in Espace all until 1996. 1997 model had a different design that would have enabled a three abreast setup, but that was never made.
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macaroni
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Murena and Multipla - I like it 3 abreast!


« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2006, 09:58:17 am »

I thought the idea for the Bagheera 3 seats was to enable a central driving position?
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Anders Dinsen
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2006, 10:46:35 am »

I thought the idea for the Bagheera 3 seats was to enable a central driving position?

Yes, I've heard that too but also that it was too expensive to realise. Or was it Murena that was concieved like that?

Frist generation Bagheeras actually have a bench seat to the right of the driver - only late in the models history was it changed to three individual seats.
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Martin Tyas
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2006, 02:28:24 pm »

Apart from "Espacetiplas" with 3 front seats just think of other things that would have been great if only they'd made them..... if only they'd offered the option of an Avantime using the chassis from the Grand Espace and made a 4 door version instead of just the 2 door coupe using a derivative of the standard Espace chassis.... now that would have REALLY been something.

Martin
« Last Edit: November 16, 2006, 02:31:45 pm by Martin Tyas » Logged

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Lennart Sorth
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2006, 10:17:35 pm »

Avantime using the chassis from the Grand Espace and made a 4 door version

They did - in fact.

well - at least a 4-door prototype, - however I don't think it was a Grand Espace chassis, but rather an elongated Avantime chassis.

I thought the idea for the Bagheera 3 seats was to enable a central driving position?
Certainly also one of the reasons, but the idea was dropped early on, as it would require a uniqe and thus expensive steeringrack, compared to simply using an existing one. Matra always had the affordability high on their agenda.
Well maybe that got slightly lost with the Espace and Avantime, but that was much later, and "under the influence" (Renault influence, I mean :-) )

/Lennart
« Last Edit: November 19, 2006, 10:21:28 pm by Lennart Sorth » Logged

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roy4matra
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2006, 02:44:36 pm »

I thought the idea for the Bagheera 3 seats was to enable a central driving position?

No, Matra never considered a central driving position, and if you really think about it, it is the worst position for road driving - it is difficult and more dangerous to see past either left or right to overtake.  Even McLaren F1 driviers have complained of that, and look how much power they have!

The real reason for the three seats was to continue their idea of a sports car with more than two seats i.e. for the young family man, not just a couple.  When most young couples have their first child the sports car has to go.  The idea started with the M530 which was a rare 2+2 mid-engined car.  Since the Bagheera had to use a Simca power unit and the only feasible one was not very powerful, the idea was born to have three seats across instead of the 2+2 arrangement.  It was considered popular enough that they continued it with the Murena.

However, in the case of the multi-arrangeable Espace, one of the ideas was to have swivelling front seats, so that with folded down centre seats and two rear seats, you could have 'four people around a table'.  Also the drivers seat was lockable in the reverse position.  A good anti-theft idea since how do you drive away a car with the drivers seat facing the wrong way!  The swivelling seats and normal centre floor mounted gear selector prohibits the third seat.

When they put the auto selector in the dash on the Espace III to give a clear floor and improve across vehicle access, customers complained so much, they reverted to a floor mounted selector!  I liked the dash selector and it reminded me of column changes from the fifties and sixties (which were often accompanied by the front bench seat for three people) but few of todays generations have ever driven with column changes or selectors.  It surprises me that it is accepted in the Multipla.  However, the whole design of the Fiat is much more 'wacky' compared to a 'conventional' Espace, so I suppose those that are prepared for something that unconventional, can accept the odd gear change too.
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michaltalbot
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2007, 06:40:45 pm »

roy4matra: You are right! Philippe Guédon was charged to construct the successor of M530 with middle engine conception and which must be more than two-seater! So he made really smart resolution: three-seater!
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