The Renault 5 Turbo is hot-hatch fire. Imagine if today’s hot-hatches were capable of accelerating faster than a Ferrari and were able to leave them for dust on a winding stretch of road. It’s almost unthinkable yet that’s how things were back in 1980, when the original 5 Turbo burst onto the scene.
The 5 Turbo gave the contemporary Ferrari 308 a seriously hard time — as well as every other supercar — by moving its turbocharged engine to the back, where the back seats used to be.
Compare that to hot hatchbacks like today’s Volkswagen Golf R, which is merely a GTI+. VW, too, built a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive GTI, the W12-650. But the Germans built one as a PR stunt. The French put their Le Supercar into production and sold thousands of them to the lucky so-and-so drivers of Europe. America’s petrolheads could only look on with envy.
Today, believe it or not, it’s the Renault that’s worth more money, with concours Turbo 1 cars fetching as much as £110,000, whereas the 308 is valued at £75,000.
In this first film from the new Revelations series, Jason Cammisa, a motoring journalist and presenter, tells the turbocharged story of the Renault 5 Turbo. The car featured is a 2 Evolution, owned by Randy Nonnenberg, cofounder of Bring-a-Trailer. The Evo model reinstated the exotic aluminium components lost in the switch from Turbo to Turbo 2, and had a bespoke engine with a fractionally larger displacement. For homologation purposes, of course – because the 5 Turbo was created to put Renault on the top step of podium in international rallying.
However, the timing proved to be its undoing, as the Audi Quattro took to rallying at the same time. But that’s a story for another episode of Revelations…