The Story Of The Renault 5

Back To The Start:

Renault introduced the 5, the first model of what we would now refer to as a supermini, more than 50 years ago. Now, the company has shown the 5,'s replacement. There will be great expectations that this newcomer will surpass the accomplishments of the original, which was created for two generations and approximately 25 years. The Renault 5 was a straightforward yet elegant little hatchback in its most basic configuration, but it could also be a tremendously thrilling rally car that could, on its best day, outperform the greatest in the world.

The Problem:

Renault experienced an issue with its tiny automobiles in the middle to late 1960s. Despite being a huge seller, several people found the 4 to be too simple. The soon-to-be-launched 6 (pictured) wasn't going to help much, and the rear-engine8 was beginning to feel dated. Frenchman Bernard Hanon, who had been employed by Renault in the US, believed that the firm required a stylish new model that would appeal to a younger demographic.

Design Thoughts:

Michel Boué, who passed away in his late 30s not long before the car was put up for sale, designed the shape of the 5. The actual model is not very similar to the design drawing that is displayed above. When it was created in April 1967, Boué didn't seem to have moved past the notion of metal bumpers and was presumably considering a fastback body design. Nonetheless, the general proportions are familiar, and it's obvious Boué had already determined the 5 should have rectangular headlights.

Closer To Production:

Anyone who has seen a first-generation 5 will be able to recognise this later drawing right away. The final shape has been decided upon; the bumpers will now be made of plastic, and the taillights are vertical, just like they would be on the production automobile. There has also been confirmation of another distinguishing design aspect. Because the doorhandles are installed inside the door and accessible through a tiny indentation at the very front of the rear wing, they are not visible.

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The 5 was the initial compact Renault hatchback to feature a unibody design. The 4 of 1961 was the company's first hatchback (though the term hadn't been coined yet), but like the later 6, it featured a separate body and chassis. Launched in 1965 and dubbed a "limousine," the highly acclaimed 16 was a unibody hatchback that was one size larger than the 5.


The 5 featured a mid-front engine configuration, with the gearbox forward of the engine and the engine positioned longitudinally behind the front axle, in keeping with the norm of Renault at the time. Similar to the 4 and 6, this presented an issue: if the entire engine was blocking the route, how could the gear lever and the transmission be connected? Renault found a solution for that by having the lever protrude from the dashboard and running the linkage over the top of the engine.

That meant the lever was in line with the steering wheel, just like in a single-seat race vehicle. Later, manufacturers would not have done so for technological reasons, but rather for driver convenience, similarly positioning their gear levers.

On Sale:

There were just two models available when the 5 first hit the market in early 1972. Both were three-door hatchbacks; Renault did not add an additional two doors for almost a decade. The base L was equipped with a 782cc version of the antiquated Billan court engine, which debuted shortly after World War II and generated a meagre 36 horsepower.

The TL:

Renault 5 E-Tech: the electric car will arrive in 2024, priced at 25,000  euros - The News Department

The TL, which was the more costly of the two original R5s, had a 956cc Cléon-Fonte engine, which was marginally more recent (although still ten years old at the time). This one was equipped with two-speed windshield wipers, armrests, a rear parcel shelf, and 47 horsepower.

The Compact Car:

The fact that the 5 was compact enough to drive on city streets was one of its main advantages. It measured 3.50 meters from bumper to bumper and 1.52 meters from side to side, making it significantly bigger than the progressively antiquated Mini, but it was also narrower and shorter than the 4. It was also about the same width and shorter than the Fiat 127, its most obvious competition in continental Europe.

The Alpine/Gordini:

In most markets, the original R5, which was essentially a hot hatch, was referred to as the Alpine; but, in the UK, where Chrysler had the rights to use the Alpine name, it was known as the Gordini. It had a 1397cc engine that produced 93 horsepower when it was first introduced in 1976. When Renault added a Garrett turbocharger to the engine in 1982, the engine's power was increased to 110 horsepower, resulting in the Alpine/Gordini Turbo (seen above).