Renault 5 GT Turbo (Hatch), 1985-1991
The Renault 5 GT Turbo was in production from 1985 until 1991. Styled by Marcello Gandini, it is a front-engine, front wheel drive hatchback range seating five adults.
The Renault 5 GT Turbo was a performance derivative of the Supercinq, introduced one year after the Supercinq's 1984 launch. It married the five's body to the same 1.4-litre turbocharged engine found in the larger Renault 9 and 11 Turbos, an old-school alternative to the lines of Peugeot's fuel injected 205GTi. Weighing just 850kg and producing 115bhp, it was far faster than most of its rivals - 0-60 in 7.5 seconds was astounding for the mid 80s. The facelifted Phase II of 1987 also gained water cooling for the turbo, a new ignition system and a revised bodykit to lower its drag coefficient. It survived until 1991, when its place as Renault's hot hatch was usurped by the Clio 16v and subsequent Clio Williams models.
The Renault 5 GT Turbo is quick, make no mistake. It doesn't just feel it, it is. But the size and the low seating position make you feel like you're going even faster than you really are. Below 4000rpm it feels reasonably brisk, but then when the turbo spools up you realise you were so wrong. This is a car which belongs in the top half of its rev band. The gearbox is slick, though sometimes the car feels almost difficult to keep in the zone - in part because its motorway cruising rev point is right where the engine comes on boost, and in part because sometimes it feels like the carb can't quite keep pace with the demand for fuel. It's old school. You sit wedged into a deep bucket seat with firm bolsters - all the better for keeping you supported as you hurl the little 5 into bends fast enough to cock a wheel. Simply put, the Renault 5 GT Turbo is a riot.
The basic engine in the 5 GT Turbo is the same Cleon that you'll find in pretty much every small and mid sized Renault right into the 1990s - to say nothing of the Volvo 300-series. In this instance it's fed by a Garrett turbocharger, but basic service items are common to the naturally aspirated models and still readily available. You're better off worrying about the shell. Plenty of these have been parked inside other cars or ditches, so inspect the panel gaps carefully to make sure the car's pointing in one single direction. Check carefully for rust too - few 5s survive today, and a large part of that is their propensity to rust. Interior trim can be hard to source, though the basic plastics and carpets are shared with the wider range and there are still cars being broken.
The most desirable GT Turbo is the special edition Raider model; launched in 1990, only available in dark blue, with special trim and its own design of alloy wheels. But a GT Turbo is a rare beast, and most enthusiasts looking for a car will take either a standard car of Raider, Phase 1 or Phase 2, depending upon what they can find. The Phase 2 attracts a small premium, while the Raider can add as much as 20% for a concours example.
The Ford Escort RS Turbo was a similar proposal - small car, turbocharger, lots of fun. Alternatively, the 1980s offered injection as well as turbocharging; the Peugeot 205GTi and Volkswagen Golf GTi were similarly legendary hot hatches which achieved things in a different manner. The MG Metro Turbo wasn't as quick, but was just as fun - while if the idea of small yet mental hatches appeals, you could save hard and source a Lancia Delta Integrale.
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