Meeting a french Rally Legend: The Renault 5 Turbo 2

Some cars get close to the myth, in automotive history. The Turbo and Turbo 2 versions of the popular Renault 5 are definitely among them. We could drive a Renault 5 Turbo 2, and enjoy it on the roads of Normandy.

Quick history of the 5 Turbo

After the successful launch of the Renault 5 in 1972, Jean Terramorsi and Henry Lherm convince the board of the Régie of starting the development of a new version, intended to FIA homologation. This car would represent the brand all around Europe.

This is how is started the development of a mid-engine Renault 5. They chose the “Cléon fonte” that featured the 5 Alpine and fitted a Garrett T3 turbocharger on it. Power was given to the wheels thanks to a Renault 30 gearbox, with a shortened final drive ratio.

In order to have the engine fit in the car, and most of all being able to send power to the ground, the body was enlarged at the rear, hiding suspensions derived from the Alpine A310.

The development needs time since Renault has no organisation dedicated to small series before the creation of the BEREX (Bureau d’Etudes et de Recherches Exploratoires – Exploratory R&D Bureau) in 1979, helped by Alpine. The car reached streets in 1981 (Turbo), evolving in 1983 (Turbo 2).

Driving a Renault 5 Turbo 2, a stressful experience

Our test car was built in 1984. It features a “Cévennes” exhaust (coming from the rally version), 16-inch Gotti alloys instead of the original TRX and an upgraded cooling system, since the mid-engine generates a few thermal issues.

The passenger compartment is identical to what you can find in a Renault 5 Alpine (the specific Bertone designed interior of the first series has disappeared, dut to budget issues, and goes for the aluminum doors and roof). It is simple and quite clear, but it offers no creativity.

Let’s start the engine, I need some time to get used to the clutch. It has a really high biting point and it is quite hazy. The 5-speed gearbox has a really long lever. It is quite hard to engage 5th gear without a crack.

I drive at a slow pace for the first kilometers. I have to admit the “boom-boom” reputation of the engine scares me a bit, and it’s not the acknowledgement of the owner that helps me ! The steering is really accurate, but it feels surprisingly heavy for a mid-engine car. The engine, usually intrusive, is completely overwhelming, due to the Cévennes exhaust.

After a while, it is time to raise the tempo. Definitely, the kick in the butt is here, at 4,000 rpm, when you almost don’t expect it anymore. The Renault 5 Turbo 2 is then settled on its rear axle. The front end becomes lighter and easier to direct in the winding roads of the Suisse Normande. However, their narrowness brings apprehension. The car is compact on the front side, but the rear definitely is not! I spend my time looking in the side mirrors, just to be sure I will not hit something.

We are joined by a few friends of the owner, making a small convoy. I end up alone in the Renault 5 Turbo 2, scared. We enjoy the roads and the wonderful sights of the area. Over time, i begin to understand how the car works. I often end up really close to the turbocharger start rpm level in a corner, in order to blast out, avoiding spinning. However, the sheer brutality of the acceleration reminds me to stay humble, i am not Jean Ragnotti!

Getting a Renault 5 Turbo 2

If you feel able to tame such a beast, you might encounter another issue : its price tag.

The price of the Renault 5 Turbo 2 is skyrocketing! You should plan between €50,000 and €70,000 to access to such a masochistic toy.

Rating:

4 etoiles

Pros

Cons

– Brutal look Access to the enigne –
– Performances Not for a novice –
– Handling  Bad quality –

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