Renault 5 Turbo

Jimmy’s Renault hot hatches

Sometimes, you just get lucky. I just was going to test a Renault 5 Turbo 2 for News d’Anciennes, the french website where it all began, and once at Jimmy’s place, I found a real treasure.

Jimmy has always been fond of Renault hot hatches, partly because his uncle was racing with Renaults, and partly just because he enjoys them.

Naturally he bought one, then another… Now he has four cars. The 5 Turbo 2, obviously, but also a 5 Alpine Turbo Coupe (which was built for Renault promotional races in the 70s), a 5 GT Turbo (the french contender for the 205 GTi) and a Clio Williams.

They all are in great shape, and really close to what they were when they got out of the plant, modifications are limited to a lowered suspension and a slightly freed exhaust.

I will skip the 5 Turbo and the Williams stories, since you can find them on the site. But let’s have a look at the stories of the other two cars.

Genesis of the Renault 5 Alpine Turbo Coupe

In 1976, Renault introduced a sport version of the 5, the 5 Alpine (5 Gordini for the English market, due to name rights). It featured an Alpine-tuned “Cléon fonte” engine, a 16 TX gearbox and Renault 12 brakes. However, since the introduction of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, it suffered a real lack of performance. To make up for that issue, Renault engineers decided to put a turbocharger on the engine, a technology they mastered in competition. Far more affordable than the 5 Turbo, it offered 110 hp instead of 92 in the NA version. It should be noted that the intake layout is quite particular, the carburetor  is mounted upstream, allowing the use of a regular carburetor.

In France, in order to promote their cars, Renault had the Coupe de France Renault-Elf where drivers where drivers competed with modified 5 Alpine (then 5 Alpine Turbo). They featured a stiffened body, bigger torsion bars, vented discs on the front wheels (from the 12 Gordini), rear discs, an electric fuel pump and a more direct steer. 706 cars were made, and most of them were crashed during the races, or forgotten in barns.

Let’s get into the 80s with the 5 GT Turbo

With the new generation of 5, Renault had to replace the old Alpine/Gordini. Due to the competition in the hot hatch sector (Golf and 205 GTi), the “Cléon-fonte” engine was once more upgraded. It featured a Garrett T2 turbocharger (air cooled in the first series, water cooled in the second) placed upstream this time. This new engine delivered 115 (Phase One, like Jimmy’s) then 120 hp (Phase Two). The GT Turbo featured a full body kit including bumpers, sideskirts, rear spoiler, etc to differentiate it from a regular 5.

In 1990, a limited edition called Raider (Alain Oreille in France) was produced to celebrate the victory of Alain Oreille in the 1989 Rallye de Côte d’Ivoire. This is the only overall WRC victory for a Group N car.

We hope you will enjoy them like we did.

Posted by Pierre in Non classé, Private collections, 0 comments

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.


4 etoiles



– Brutal look Access to the enigne –
– Performances Not for a novice –
– Handling  Bad quality –
Posted by Pierre in Cars, Non classé, 1 comment