at 50, the pop car becomes a tech show car

R5, the return. We’ve been waiting for it for months, but this time it’s official. This Thursday, September 22, the small sedan, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, will be resurrected in a version of our time, under the name Renault 5 Turbo 3E, Renault has just announced. We will discover it at the Mondial de l’Auto, from October 17 to 23, Porte de Versailles in Paris. It is a show car (demonstration car that will not be produced) rest mode (the silhouette is original) and retrofitting (electrified) which the manufacturer describes as “100% electric reinterpretation inspired by the world of video games”. Connoisseurs will note the turbo and electric oxymoron, only thermal propulsion can be equipped with a turbocharger. What’s the use! When we talk about the R5, it’s not about technology, it’s about mythology.

Renault Turbo 3E show car unveiled on September 22, 2022 (RENAULT)

Like a blockbuster character, Terminator style, but smaller and friendlier, the R5 is actually much more than a car. It is an era, a style, a small revolution in everyday life on the eve of the first oil shock (1973). Any comparison with our uncertain times is not accidental

The sequel after the ad

In the late 1960s, cars were still black, masculine, serious. Mechanical power is no joke. Since the post-war period, the Dauphine, 2 CV, 4L and abroad the Fiat 500 and VW Beetle have allowed the working class to get on the road and women behind the wheel. But these economy cars were still rooted in aesthetics and use dictated by traditional lifestyles. May 68, student uprisings, workers’ demands, and then the feminist movements shake these chains and flow the lifestyle.

Renault 5 Classic customized as advertised, at a classic and vintage car show in Reims
Renault 5 Classic customized as advertised at a classic and vintage car show in Reims (DENIS MEUNIER)

The R5 is the first French multi-purpose car. Work, leisure, shopping, short or long trips… it can do it all and for everyone. Among those over forty, who doesn’t have memories in an R5, with their mother, grandfather or a lucky friend behind the wheel?

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Its pop colors (apple green, orange, tomato red, etc.) anchor it in its era, as does its reduced fuel consumption (4.5 liters per 100 km advertised) at a time of soaring fuel prices. If necessary, the tailgate and folding bench transform the small sedan into a utility vehicle. In short, the R5 is the progenitor of small SUVs, without the faults of its latest (heavy, anti-ergonomic, dangerous for pedestrians, etc.).

Romy Schneider in an R5, in Claude Sautet's film
Romy Schneider in an R5, in Claude Sautet’s 1976 film ‘A Simple Story’ (with Eva Darlan at the wheel) (SCREEN CAPTURE)

Finally, it is spacious enough in the back to accommodate children, like Romy Schneider in the film. “A Simple Story” in 1976 by Claude Sautet. If necessary, the R5, the second car in the household, can take the place of the first. And for most households it’s the only car, but it doesn’t work as a second choice. A total of 5,580 million R5s will be produced between 1972 and 1984.

The sequel after the ad

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A fault line

The R5’s silhouette is slim, but it doesn’t look like a minivan like the 4L. It’s beautiful with its understated grille, square headlights like two eyes, a thermoplastic front and rear bumper rather than plate bumpers, side protection on the GTL and an ergonomic dashboard.

A Renault 5 Turbo
A Renault 5 Turbo (ALLAIN SERPAGGI)

In 1972, Renault bought the manufacturer Alpine. From this union of know-how, will be born four years later, the R5 Alpine, a bombinette that does not escape sports car enthusiasts, at an affordable price. It’s a grab for the Golf GTI and the start of a new era for the berlinetta. A turbocharger, an old invention but new on a small engine, fitted the R5 in 1980 and then the R5 Alpine the following year.

The little car in pop colors will be the queen of rallies. And forever a princess on four wheels.

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