The Renault 5 Turbo conjours up so many memories for me growing up as a car obsessed kid, as mentioned in a previous post, it was my go to Scalextric brother beater. On a recent snowboarding trip to France – hazy eyed and sleep deprived after an early start, much to my amazement there was a Renault 5 Turbo Rally in the famous white, yellow and black ELF livery burbling away in a service station. It got me thinking – where did this car come from, it was important to me as child but I didn’t know much about it’s history.
Renault 5 Turbo – True French Flair
Let’s be honest the French get a pretty raw deal when it comes to automotive banter and compared with the German super giants or the flamboyant Italians their latest creations fall flat on automotive nuts. Contrary to modern belief our French cousins do in fact have a past laced with flair, innovation and motorsport heritage…the case in point – The Renault 5 Turbo.
Renault 5 Turbo – Rally Hooligan
Launched in 1980 at the Brussels motor show, the R5 Turbo was to combat the success the Lancia Stratos and the likes were enjoying on the world rally stage.
Renault’s VP of production Jean Terramorsi tasked Bertone the job of taking a Renault 5 Alpine and giving it an injection of go faster juice in a bid to topple the rally beaters at the time. What they did was radical – shifting drive from front to rear, slapping the engine right behind the driver creating a mid-engined rip snarler and adding a widened body to beef up the road presence making sure no-one made the mistake of thinking the Renault 5 Turbo was a granny van. The R5 Turbo meant business.
The first 400 Renualt 5 Turbo’s were made in the Alpine factory just across the Channel in Dieppe and were built to comply with Group 4 homologation allowing the car to run and compete in International Rallies.
In 1981 on its first outing the R5 Turbo took the win at the Monte Carlo Rally, however Group B 4WD cars quickly came along and the R5 simply couldn’t keep up on dirt. Renualt however persisted and continuously developed the Turbo, by 1984 350bhp had been squeezed from the engine, doubling its output – the Renault 5 Maxi Turbo was born.
The Renault 5 Turbo 2
The Turbo 2 came about to reduce manufacturing costs and swapped out some of the expensive race bred parts for cheaper mass produced pieces. Dubbed as a softer version of the original Turbo, performance would still make the bums twitch of today’s hot hatches…0-60 in 6.9secs and 145bhp is still not to be sniffed at.
So aside from cheese, flan and frogs legs the French sure knew how to add grunt to hatch backs and create a Rally stage beating brute. Take a bow Renault 5 Turbo…