Promotional events aren’t typically as audacious as this. Of course, there’s no practical reason to sticking a Formula One engine in the back of a Renault Espace, but when you’ve got a team of highly-skilled engineers and Le Professeur behind the wheel, why not?
Designed as a commemoration to the 10th anniversary of the Espace minivan, Renault took a 3.5-liter, 40-valve V10 as used in the Williams FW15C, and had Matra huck it in the middle of what appears to be a sportier, more menacing version of a grocery getter. Though a minivan on the outside, the car was fundamentally a Grand Prix racer, with a carbon fiber chassis and chunkier, wider body panels made from the same material. Doused in a garish layer of gold paint, there’s very little about this ludicrous machine that is suited to picking up the kids from soccer practice.
The screaming engine made somewhere in the vicinity of 800 horsepower, which was enough to chuck the van and four occupants to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds, and 124 in 6.9. As this car isn’t merely a demonstration of engine power, the overfenders are filled with thick, chunky slicks, and a massive wing sprouting off the rear hatch gives the car the necessary downforce to remain stable at high speed. The ceramic brakes and downforce allowed the big van to reach a stop from 168 mph in a hardly-believable 1,969 feet.
As seen from the footage, the car is capable of outrageous cornering speeds and poise more akin to a racing car than a family van. With the stylishly smooth Alain Prost behind the wheel, it’s safe to assume that all of this oddity’s performance is being put to use, and while it doesn’t have the classic lines of a sports car, chances are it will give just about anything sleek and swift a run for its money.