The debut of the sixth-generation Renault Espace is just around the corner. The French company has announced the family hauler will arrive on March 28 and we have one last batch of spy photos to share with you, showing a pre-production prototype before the big debut. It depicts the new Espace wearing bolt-on wheel arch extenders that look weird but probably hint at some unseen before design tweaks.

Those white plastic plates look totally out of place on this trial vehicle and we see two possible scenarios here. In the first one, Renault is simply trying to trick the untrained eye into believing this isn’t an Espace prototype but something else. More likely, however, we think there might be some small revisions to the wheel arches that the French company wants to keep hidden before the debut later this month. In any case, those large and fancy wheels look very good, though.

Gallery: Renault Espace new spy photos

The new Espace isn’t exactly a brand-new model. Instead, it is just a stretched version of the Austral SUV with a length of 4.72 metres (185.8 inches), making it some 14 cm (5.5 in) shorter than the MPV it replaces. Despite that, thanks to clever packaging, Renault says the interior width of 2.48 m (97.6 in) will be larger. The new Espace will be sold in both five- and seven-seat versions and will effectively become Renault’s largest model on sale in Europe.

What will be under the bonnet? Well, as shocking as it may sound, an earlier teaser image of the new Espace showed the MPV-replacing SUV could borrow the hybridised 1.2-litre petrol mill of the Austral where the output is either 160 or 200 bhp thanks to electric motor support. Alternatively, the Austral’s 1.3-litre mild-hybrid gasoline engine with 140 bhp and 160 bhp should also be available, while a diesel option seems highly unlikely considering there’s no such engine available for the smaller SUV.

While the new Espace won't have much in common with its predecessors, which were all traditional MPVs, we are excited to see the diamond logo brand launching a three-row model. With the slow and painful demise of the MPV segment in Europe, it doesn’t really come as a surprise that Renault has decided to ditch the once-popular single-volume shape for something more modern. All will be unveiled on March 28 this year.